Westchester County Legislator William Ryan (D/White Plains) is wasting no time to let Westchester residents know he plans to run for County Executive in 2013. The former chairman of the County Board of Legislators confirmed rumors of his intention to run three weeks ago when he was questioned by members of the local press.
In an interview with The White Plains Examiner on Sunday, Ryan said he felt energized. In a tour of Democratic city and town committees Ryan is receiving positive reaction and support. The overwhelming affirmation of the Democratic agenda during the recent election doesn’t hurt either.
The decision to go ahead and make a bid for the executive position came last spring when Ryan returned from Washington D.C. and a board of directors meeting of the National Association of Counties.
“I’ve spent time talking with people about the challenges facing Westchester. Many have asked whether county government has the capacity and political will to take on those challenges and achieve positive outcomes. I’ve had to tell them I seriously doubt it given [the current County Executive’s] reactionary approach to governing. Astorino’s austerity agenda is gutting county operations,” Ryan said.
Calling Astorino’s Tea Party approach too extreme and his behavior toward the Board of Legislators obstructionist, Ryan believes Astorino’s view of the role of county government is not adequate.
“One of the first things I’d like to do is fully examine county operations,” Ryan maintained. “I want to know how the different departments have been changed and find out why they cannot perform their functions.” For example, Ryan wants to know why the capital work of the county is not moving forward. “Bridge and road work is dragging,” he claims.
Ryan also is disturbed by the fact that county commissioners are not permitted to talk freely with the Board of Legislators. “I would dissolve that restriction immediately,” Ryan said. “We need to be able to communicate.”
Ryan would like to see a return to economic development in the county. Acknowledging that we have suffered through a recession and prolonged recovery, Ryan feels things are picking up and the county should be more aggressively pursuing opportunities. He agrees that relationships between government and the public sector are necessary and wants to see more of them. Regarding the recent Playland proposal put forward by Astorino, Ryan says if it works for the county it’s a good thing, but this “my way or no way” approach of the county executive is not in the best interests of the county.
Ryan is also concerned about child care funding cuts. “The increase in the parental share of child care costs reverses years of progress made by the county to provide needed financial relief to qualifying working parents. I would reverse this policy and budgetary decisions,” Ryan said.
Similarly, Ryan contends that community-based, non-profit agencies have helped the county provide needed programs and services for residents, especially women, children and the elderly and says Astorino has disregarded these agencies, starving them of county financial assistance, delaying the signing of contracts and ultimately devastating their budgets.