The Putnam Examiner

Mahopac Resident Enters Assembly Race to Replace Katz

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Another Mahopac resident is seeking the legislative seat being vacanted by outspoken incumbent New York State Assemblyman Steve Katz, who is not seeking a fourth term in office.

Kevin Byrne, a Republican, is the latest candidate to announce his intention to run for the 94th assembly seat in what could be a packed GOP primary. Byrne held his kickoff event last Saturday in front of family, friends and supporters including Katz, former congresswoman Nan Hayworth, and state Senator Kieran Lalor.

In an interview, Byrne described a time in the recent past where he actually considered taking a step back from politics. Securing a new job, getting married and completing a Masters Degree, Byrne had so much already on his plate. But because of the rampant corruption in state government, including the arrests and convictions of former Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and former Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Byrne felt compelled to enter the race.

“I think we have to do a lot more on ethics reform to tackle this problem because of the corrupt politicians in Albany,” Byrne said. “It’s becoming the new norm and that shouldn’t be acceptable.”

Byrne also stressed how young folks specifically struggle to live and raise a family in New York. Many of Byrne’s high school classmates have either moved away, are still living at home, or renting substandard living spaces. Good paying jobs aren’t in the state and many are leaving out of economic necessity, he noted.

“That’s what really bugs me,” Byrne said. “The failed policies in Albany are making us lose a generation. People are leaving the state of New York.”

Senior citizens on fixed incomes are also struggling to remain in New York, Byrne added.

Byrne has been involved in politics and local government for many years. He was a former aide to Hayworth when she was in office and served on the Putnam Valley Planning Board. Additionally, he is currently the vice-chairman of the Putnam County Republican Committee.

Growing up in Putnam Valley, Byrne graduated from Carmel High School. He’s also been part of the Boy Scouts for America and Kent Fire Department, having a leadership role in both organizations. Currently, he is the regional director for the American Heart Association.

Byrne is just one candidate in a potentially crowded field. Mahopac resident Suzi McDonough announced her intention to run months ago and there are at least three or four other candidates that could pursue the seat.

As the race kicks into another gear, Byrne plans to canvass the district to meet voters and get to as many events as possible. Byrne stressed he’s a strong believer in learning by meeting people and asking questions.

When asked if he would partake in a primary if he didn’t receive the party’s endorsement, Byrne was conflicted. On one hand, as vice-chairman of the Putnam GOP committee he’s always been someone to support the endorsed candidate. But on the other hand, Byrne said he’s heard regardless of which candidate is endorsed, there will be a primary fight and he would make a final decision after the party’s convention a couple months from now.

“It’s something I’m going to think long and hard about,” Byrne said. “I’m just going to leave that option open and I’m going to work to earn the support of the committee and earn the nomination.”

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