County Executive George Latimer outlined a challenging but undeniably bright future during the Westchester County Association’s annual breakfast yesterday morning at the Westchester Marriot in Tarrytown. During his 40-minute speech — his first public address to the business community since taking office earlier this month — Latimer compared the current climate of uncertainly in the county to America in 1968, when the Vietnam War raged and students overtook college campuses. “We can look back and say we survived these difficult times,” he said, “and that should give us some sense of optimism.”
In exclusive comments to 914INC. at the event, Latimer pointed to a number of bright spots and potential difficulties that the county may face in 2018. “Some of the things that [the WCA] is advancing, such as the Gigabit program and workforce program, are initiatives that we can support, rather than [having to] create a distinct and separate set of things aside from that,” said Latimer.
“But we are going into difficult times, let’s not kid ourselves,” he added. “We are going to be dealing not only with taxation pressures, but with organizations and entities that are going to look into relocating to other parts of the country because they offer a completely different structure of taxation. We are going to have to be as aggressive and as creative as we can be, not only to hold on to where we are, but to advance.”
During his speech, Latimer expressed a desire to work with politicians of all stripes to address the county’s pressing issues. “The challenges we face going forward do not give us the luxury of partisanship,” Latimer told the crowd. “I hold, as a Democrat, certain philosophic beliefs, but I can’t let those beliefs be the only thing that drives public policy. We have to work across the aisle out of necessity, or we will not succeed in this county facing the problems that we face.”
To perhaps emphasize this new era of cooperation, Latimer sent several long-held contracts for Westchester Community College employees to the Board of Legislators for review earlier this week. The commitment was among promises Latimer made during his 2017 campaign.
Prior to the speech, New Rochelle Mayor Tom Roach applauded Latimer’s recent ascension to County Executive. “George is actually the person who got me involved in politics in the first place,” Mayor Roach told us. “He has always been someone I can confer with on issues and he has been an amazingly active senator… I think he is going to be a wonderful County Executive.”
Chairman of the WCA Bill Harrington as well as WCA CEO and President Bill Mooney also discussed Latimer’s recent inauguration at the event, as well as the need for cooperation and innovation among the county government and local business leaders in responding the recently passed national tax bill.
Latimer, in turn, expressed a mutual desire to strengthen the relationship between his office and such groups as the WCA. “The economic engine of Westchester has always been the human capital of intelligent people who are schooled in a variety of different areas,” said Latimer in his comments to 914INC. “So I think rather than looking at government as this entity that is going to structure and lead the parade, we are going to be a partner working side-by-side on strategies.”