Democrat Leader Delays Important Vote To Set Special Election, Republican Caucus Urges Colleagues to Follow the Law



At the regular meeting of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) on Monday June, 20, 2016, Democrat Majority Leader Catherine Borgia blocked a vote on the Legislation which would set the date for a special election to fill the Legislative District 14 seat of retired Legislator Bernice Spreckman.

Spreckman retired effective June 7th.  When a Legislator vacates their position during a term, the County Charter requires the BOL to select a date for a special election to take place within 90 days.  The Legislation which was to be voted on set the date for August 2nd.  The BOL will have to convene a special meeting in the coming days to take up the pending legislation again.

Chamber2Legislator Borgia wanted the special election to be held on September 13th, Primary Day, which would be well beyond the ninety day period allowed by law.  BOL Chairman Mike Kaplowitz and the majority of Legislators want to set the special election date within the 90 day time period which would give the Board of Elections sufficient time to prepare and to give both political parties time to identify and announce candidates.

Minority Leader John G. Testa (R) Peekskill is Co-Chair along with Borgia of the BOL’s Rules Committee.  “I’m shocked that Legislator Borgia would act in such a puerile manner simply because she couldn’t get the votes she needed to set the special election for the date she wanted.  We spent a lot of time listening to Legislator Borgia’s arguments in the Rules Committee.  After much discussion it was clear that the will of the Legislature was to follow the law and set the election within the 90 day period as required.”  Testa added, “Legislator Borgia has played fast and loose with election law in the past and it came back to bite her, including getting her candidate kicked off the ballot in the last election cycle.  I would have hoped hope that she was capable of learning from that mistake.  This ‘take my ball and go home’ action that she engaged in during the meeting proves that she would prefer to put politics over the needs of the people of District 14 to be represented at the BOL.”

Minority Whip Legislator Gordon Burrows reacted with disgust to Borgia’s vote blocking.  “I am shocked, frankly, that Legislator Borgia would act unilaterally to prevent a vote because she knew she was on the losing end of an argument.  No Legislator is more important than the BOL and certainly no more important than the needs of the residents of District 14.  The bipartisan coalition and leadership team on the BOL agreed that a special election on August 2nd struck the right balance with respect to the needs of the District’s residents against the time it would take for both parties to field their candidates.”  Burrows said.  “I’ve heard names from both parties bandied about for this seat yet no one has announced or begun campaigning so this is a completely fair contest.  I would encourage Legislator Borgia to help her party by supporting a candidate and discussing the issues that we are facing in Westchester County.  I believe voters have had enough of the political gamesmanship and pettiness that we saw tonight.”

About John G. Testa

Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader. John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility. John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching. John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester. John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters. John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years. John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.” John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill. John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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