Citing the need for a new start and stronger leadership, Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins has announced that he will run for Westchester County Executive in 2013.
A member of the Westchester Board of Legislators since 2007, Jenkins (D-Yonkers) joins New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson and White Plains legislator Bill Ryan in what is now a three-man race for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent County Executive Robert Astorino (R) is expected to announce his bid for another term later this year.
"As we start a new year together, our thoughts turn to what the year will bring. It's an opportunity for a new start, for new beginnings - a time to take stock of where we've been, where we stand, and how much needs to be done," Jenkins said to a crowd of supporters at the Crowne Plaza Wednesday in White Plains.
As chairman of the Board of Legislators, Jenkins has sparred with Astorino in the past, most recently with the adoption of the 2013 Westchester County Budget. While announcing his candidacy Wednesday Jenkins emphasized that reckless job and spending cuts are not the ways to get the county out of its recent economic slump. He vowed to restore funding to county programs he called vital and to find creative solutions to the problems the county must face.
"Your property taxes have continued to rise, your fees for county services have gone up, while your quality of life has gone down," Jenkins said. "Our county government is not doing more with less; it is doing less with less and shifting the burden to you in other ways."
Since winning the county executive seat in 2009, Astorino has fought to minimize tax rate increases and cut spending. Jenkins, meanwhile, has led the push from BOL Democrats to fight some of those cuts. The most recent budget debate featured key spending differences between the candidates, specifically childcare costs and funding for several county programs.
"The sky is not falling," Jenkins said. "There is no need to allow our roads and bridges to deteriorate; to reduce funding for parks and recreation and to stop caring for the poor and disabled."
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano (D), 89th District Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D), 90th District Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer (D) and 35th District State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins spoke on Jenkins behalf during the announcement.
"He always knew, as my colleagues have said, when to stand strong, when to pick the battle, when to back up, when to compromise, but you always knew you were going to have an intelligent, pragmatic, frank, honest, intellectual understanding of what the issues are, and at the root of all those issues were the good of the people of Westchester County," Stewart-Cousins said.