Harckham Has Earned Chance to Continue Serving in 40th Senate District
With much of the election year suspense revolving around Washington, D.C., it might be easy to forget some of the races closer to home.
It is obvious why most of the thousands of people standing outside polling places throughout the area are willing to spend three to four hours waiting to exercise their right to vote.
But for those who live in the 40th Senate District, the Peter Harckham-Rob Astorino Battle Royale is also of supreme importance.
Both candidates have become recognizable and respected figures in Westchester political circles, even if their television attack ads and mailers in this campaign fail to enlighten anyone about a single thing either one hopes to do in the next two years.
Harckham’s vanquishing of former state senator Terrence Murphy two years ago was something of a historic day, the first time since World War I that a Democrat has represented northern Westchester and Putnam County in the state Senate.
For Republicans, it’s a seat they desperately want to recover with hopes of someday soon reclaiming control of the state Senate. They likely have the strongest candidate they could find in Astorino.
Each candidate has a record of accomplishment in offices they held, and had some missteps along the way.
But after a bit of a rollercoaster ride during his two years in the Senate, capped by a once-in-a-century crisis, Harckham is the choice to continue representing the district. Agree or disagree with him, he was a steady hand for seven-plus years on the Westchester County Board of Legislators and has been similarly reliable in his first term in Albany.
It may be easy to point fingers and blame Harckham, or any Democrat for that matter, for the state’s fiscal woes, but every state in the union has a projected revenue decline for 2021 as of Oct. 5, according to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. New York has an estimated 15 percent decline, with its heavy reliance on tourism. Similarly, Florida, California, Nevada and Hawaii are all projected to have double-figure percentage revenue declines.
Beyond that, Harckham has gotten results, sometimes under the radar. He’s worked with other state lawmakers to help bolster the state’s Electric Generation Facility Cessation Mitigation Program, which will help ease the burden on the communities around Indian Point as the nuclear power plant gets set to go off line next spring.
His efforts helped bring a combined $10 million in extra aid for the Brewster, Peekskill and Ossining school districts, a major accomplishment to help high-needs school systems.
Harckham has also served municipalities in his district well, whether it was pushing legislation to complete a land swap in Southeast for them to build a ball field or securing funds for lights and other improvements at Millwood Park in New Castle.
And, no, he didn’t write the bail reform legislation, which admittedly went too far in its initial rollout in 2019. That was included in the Fiscal Year 2020 state budget.
Astorino, who started his public service as a member of the Mount Pleasant Board of Education while still in college, has a long career of service. He spent 12 years on the Mount Pleasant Town Board, one term on the Board of Legislators before winning the first of two terms as county executive.
He kept his promise of holding taxes in check, reducing the rate by 2 percent his first year in office.
For the most part, Astorino governed capably in his eight years, although his picking fights with the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the affordable housing settlement was at times unnecessary.
In terms of knowledge of the issues, communication skills, drive and passion, Astorino has it all.
But what New York State and the 40th Senate District need at this time is someone who isn’t flashy but can roll up his sleeves and get the job done. For this year, that candidate is Peter Harckham.