The Town of Mount Pleasant paid tribute to former county legislator Suzanne Swanson on Sunday, one of its most beloved and dedicated public servants, by renaming a street in her honor.
Local and county officials, friends and family members gathered at the intersection of Westchester and Albany avenues in Thornwood, a short walk from where Swanson and her husband Donald lived for more than a half-century and raised their family together, to unveil a street sign that reads Suzanne Swanson Way.
Swanson, who was initially elected to the Westchester County Board of Legislators in November 1991 and served as a Conservative, passed away in October 2020 at 75 years old. She served two separate stints on the board, and finished her service at the close of 2007.
“She was an amazing person,” said County Legislator Margaret Cunzio (C-Mount Pleasant), who currently holds the District 3 seat that Swanson had occupied and whom she credits for convincing her to run for the Board of Legislators. “I mean I’m going to get all teary eyed here because I miss her. I miss her every day. There are times that I want to call her.
“This is the least that we could do. She helped everybody in the Town of Mount Pleasant; she helped everybody in Westchester County.”
Donald Swanson and their grown children, son Devin and daughter Donna, said having the town recognize her contributions and service was a great honor.
“It was a great thing to do for her,” Devin Swanson said. “It was well-deserved, her dedication to the town and the county. It touched me; it touched me a lot, but until I got here today, I didn’t really realize it.”
Donald Swanson said his wife never had any intention of running for public office until there was a controversy with a local quarry. Crews began blasting, causing dust and debris to fly into homes in the area severely impacting residents’ quality of life.
After being elected, she became immersed in the community and her constituents.
“Once she got involved in the town and the county more, it just went on and on, and once she got a hold of something there was no letting go,” Donald Swanson said.
Other officials who either served with her or in local government while she was in office remembered Swanson as someone who would put principles over politics. Former Mount Pleasant supervisor Robert Meehan remembered that he first met her when the United Homeowners of Mount Pleasant was looking for a local attorney to help them.
Swanson was an independent person and her community came first while always striving to do the right thing, Meehan said. But it was her friendship that he valued the most.
“I miss her as a friend more than anything else,” Meehan said. “So I’ll drive by here every once in a while and remind (myself) what a great person she was.”
County Executive George Latimer recalled that he and Swanson were elected to the Board of Legislators the same year and also remembered her independence who would often be able to pull coalitions together. Swanson also never shied away from telling people her views.
“She would tell you what she really thought, and in the business that I’m in and some of you are in, you don’t always get that,” Latimer said. “Guys tell you stuff because they think that’s what you want to hear. You’d go through this stuff and she’d tell you the straight dope, and you knew she was speaking for Thornwood, for Hawthorne, for Valhalla, for North Castle. She understood her communities.”
Current Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said Swanson helped so many residents and officials in the town and throughout the county that it was fitting that she receives a lasting tribute.
“Her efforts will never be forgotten,” Fulgenzi said. “We thank her, we thank her family for letting us honor her in this way.”
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/