Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino was inaugurated for his second term Wednesday afternoon with renewed hope for greater bipartisanship and a realistic possibility he may run for governor later this year.
Accompanied by his family and a roomful of friends and supporters, Astorino was administered the oath shortly after noon by state Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary in his ninth-floor office at the county building in White Plains. The ceremony was followed by a public reception attended by an estimated 400 people.
Astorino said every day he comes to work he still feels the same sense of awe and responsibility that he felt his first day on the job.
“I thank everybody who put their trust in me,” he said moments after being administered the oath. “The elections are over. So it’s been two months since the election and now we get back to governing and do what we’re supposed to do.”
Astorino, 46, is optimistic that the first year of his second term will be a lot more manageable to govern than his first two years in office and even the past two years when he no longer had to contend with a Democratic supermajority on the Board of Legislators.
At its first meeting of the year on Monday night, the board is scheduled to vote on new bipartisan leadership, which would install veteran legislators Michael Kaplowitz (D-Somers) and Jim Maisano (R-New Rochelle), chairman and vice chairman of the board, respectively. The county executive said that should go a long way toward ending some of the time-wasting antics that have plagued county government since he took over four years ago.
“The circus atmosphere, the charades, hopefully come to an end real soon,” Astorino said in an interview with The Examiner following the inauguration ceremony. “We’ve got work to do. We’ve got differences of opinion and that’s fine and it should happen, but ultimately we have to come to conclusions and move forward. I think what we’ve seen with the bipartisan coalition…we are ready to compromise and nobody gets everything that they want. But ultimately we don’t work for ourselves, we’re working for the people.”
As he enters the next phase of his administration, Astorino acknowledged that he is still actively exploring a gubernatorial run next fall against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Almost immediately following his resounding re-election in November, state Republicans began courting him about the possibility of a match up that would feature the Mount Pleasant resident against Cuomo, who lives in New Castle, for the state’s highest office.
He said he doesn’t want to be a sacrificial lamb and would likely make his decision whether to run or not in the next two months.
“It’s something I have to consider because maybe you get this shot once,” Astorino said. “But I feel very, very strongly about the direction this state is going in and it’s not the right one and that concerns me.”
Astorino maintained that Cuomo has reneged on most of his key promises. He pointed to the failure to enact mandate relief, which has prevented New York from diminishing its grip as the highest taxed state in the nation while severely hampering school districts, municipalities and counties. Also, little has been accomplished in the way of ethics reform, making the state more attractive for business and in preventing the exodus of residents to other parts of the country.
“I do think Gov. Cuomo has a record that’s not worthy of re-election,” Astorino said. “He came in with some bold ideas and didn’t do any of them and we’ve gotten worse as a state.”
Before he started his second term, Astorino reached out to three new neighboring officeholders–Rockland County Executive Ed Day, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio–to impart whatever words of wisdom that he could and to introduce himself.
Four years ago Astorino remembered speaking with the three preceding Westchester county executives. While they all had valuable advice, one thing he heard stood out: the day has to end.
“Go home to your family and that is important because this is an all-consuming job,” he recalled. “You have to realize at some point you have to shut the door, shut the lights off and go home.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/