Westchester County legislators Margaret Cunzio (C-Mount Pleasant) and Vedat Gashi (D-Yorktown) will be running for re-election later this year, joining a growing list of elected officials and candidates who are finalizing their plans for this year’s election cycle.
Cunzio, who represents the towns of North Castle, Mount Pleasant and part of Greenburgh in District 3, will be seeking her fourth term on the Board of Legislators, while Gashi is going for a second term after replacing longtime legislator Michael Kaplowitz for the District 4 seat. District 4 includes Yorktown, New Castle and part of Somers.
Despite being the board’s only non-Democrat, Cunzio has sought to remain non-partisan as the minority caucus has dwindled to just herself during her time on the board. She said her colleagues, facing multiple of a pandemic and fiscal pressures, haven’t been distracted by politics and have remained professional and collegial.
“The Board of Legislators never took a hiatus. We’ve continued to work and I think everyone is extremely busy and I think we have the same goal in mind, which is really to help the county,” Cunzio said. “This is not a year where people have been talking about politics. They’re trying to get things going and moving in the right direction.”
Cunzio, a 22-year Thornwood resident, said she hopes to continue to work on projects to help volunteer emergency responders and safety issues such as the improvement of the intersection of Commerce Street and Elwood Avenue in Hawthorne.
Late last year, Cunzio helped forge an agreement with Westchester County Health Care Corporation, the owner of Westchester Medical Center, to provide ambulance services for five facilities on the county’s Grasslands property, alleviating the burden on the Valhalla Volunteer Ambulance Corps. After Medicaid reimbursement, the contract has no net cost to Westchester taxpayers.
She said she’s also proud of having supported five balanced budgets that once again reduced the county’s tax levy for 2021.
The legislator said she hopes to help bring more affordable senior housing to the area and work to get eligible local residents, particularly veterans and retirees, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished since then,” said Cunzio who has represented the district since 2016. “We have truly made government work for the people of Westchester County. More work remains as we recover from the effects of the pandemic in the months and years to come. I look forward to always providing a voice to the residents of our community.”
Gaashi, who will officially kick off his candidacy for re-election on Feb. 18, said his first year in office changed dramatically about two months into 2020 with the onset of the pandemic. He said despite the immense challenges, he felt “incredibly proud and privileged to serve during this time.”
“It feels like things were thrown into disarray, but maybe they always are and different than what you expected exactly, and the benefit of being a public official right now is that this is a time when you really do need the government,” Gashi said. “This is a time when the stuff you’re doing has real meaning for everyone.”
Key measures that were approved during the past year were temporary property tax relief that allowed certain homeowners to delay their payments because of COVID-19, increasing the county’s share of child care contributions and eliminating the need for a referendum when capital projects of more than $10 million need to be bonded, he said.
Gashi said she has enjoyed public service and helping constituents.
“In something like this, you realize the stuff you’re working on today, right now, is necessary and important and has the possibility of improving someone else’s life,” Gashi said. “That’s what you do it for.”
Neither legislator was aware yet of an opponent for November. The petition period for candidates begins late next month and extends into early April.
Last week, District 2 legislator Kitley Covill (D-Katonah) confirmed she wasn’t running for re-election and will leave after serving for four years. All seats on the Board of Legislators are two-year terms.