Two seismic events shook Rockland County this week and both have profound impacts on our shared future.
The first I’m sure you’ve heard: The people of this county honored me by overwhelmingly voting to give me a second term as County Executive.
The second might have slipped by without your notice but is equally as crucial: The $138 million deficit – money we owed due to bad decisions made in the past – that I inherited when I took office four years ago is predicted to reach zero by the end of the fiscal year.
On Jan. 1, 2014, my first day as County Executive, Rockland County had only $42,000 in the bank and was on the brink of default.
I promised to turn around our finances – to usher in an era of renewal.
I am proud to say that I kept that promise.
Our deficit is all but wiped out, we have stayed within the state property tax cap, we are attracting new businesses and our unemployment rate is among the lowest in the state.
An impressive record that shows how hard we have worked and how much we have accomplished.
But I’m not one to rest on my laurels. There is still much we need to do – together – to make Rockland County an even better place.
Rockland County is a place of amazing diversity that people from all over the world, of all cultures and religions, are proud to call home.
We all want the same things for our families – safe neighborhoods, good schools, plenty of recreational activities, well-maintained roads and comprehensive transit systems.
It is critical that all of us engage in true outreach that bridges divides so that when tensions do arise we remember that we share the same environment and want the same things for our families.
Rockland Human Rights Commissioner Constance Frazier is already engaged in a renewed plan of action that will include faith-based organizations, community groups from all corners of our county, religious leaders and everyone else interested in promoting understanding and respect.
Ignorance about each other only breeds hate.
I pledge to all that I will meet with anyone or any group to further that mission of enhancing mutual understanding of the many people and groups that call this great county home.
As I map out goals for my second term, I also appeal to my partners in government, the Rockland County Legislature, to join me for the good of the people of this county.
Let’s improve our working relationship.
We have stepped back from the financial precipice. Now’s the time to lay the foundation for the future.
Let’s work together to sell the Sain building. We can put the $4.51 million in proceeds toward settling union contracts for our hardworking employees.
Let’s always remember that we serve the people of Rockland County who put us in office.
And to those people who granted me a second term, I say with great humility “thank you.”
Thank you for your faith and belief.
Thank you for your support and trust.
Thank you for all the kind words that you have sent my way.
And, most of all, thank you for allowing me to continue to serve you.
We now embark on the renaissance of this great county.
I will work every day to make Rockland County better for all.
You have my word.