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Latimer Looks Ahead In First Speech As Westchester County Exec-Elect

Joseph Markey of Key Bank, at left, with Westchester County Executive-elect George Latimer, Business Council of Westchester President/CEO Marsha Gordon and BCW Board Chairman Anthony Justic before Latimer's speech to a Tuesday breakfast. Photo Credit: Contributed/John Vecchiola
Westchester County Executive-elect George Latimer mingles with guests on Tuesday before a breakfast speech to the Business Council of Westchester. Marsha Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the BCW introduced the Rye Democrat. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

Westchester County Executive-elect George Latimer detailed his visions, goals and gut feelings on Tuesday during his first major public speech since being elected on Nov. 7.

Latimer defeated incumbent Republican Rob Astorino of Mount Pleasant by 57 to 43 percent.

The Rye Democrat told more than 300 breakfast guests of the Business Council of Westchester that he has never pretended to have all the answers. He invited longtime colleagues in the audience to remind him when he's wrong.

Westchester was built by brave people whose names we may no longer remember, Latimer said, just as no one will remember his name decades from now. "This county was built (by people) with guts and vision."

As one of his first actions, Latimer said his name will not be posted on county signs -- a longstanding tradition by former county executives at parks like Playland. He also won't appear in TV ads promoting tourism.

At 64, Latimer is the oldest politician elected to the office. He promised he has no aspirations beyond doing great deeds for the county today and throughout his four-year term.

The county's credit ratings rate high on Latimer's priority list, he said, and he'll work in a bipartisan fashion with all 17 county legislators to maintain a balanced budget without gimmicks and while keeping property taxes down.

Latimer said he'd work to find jobs for the county's unemployed and develop every piece of vacant or underused property in Westchester.

The third generation resident of Westchester said his early career experience as a corporate marketing executive keeps him sensitive to the needs of the  business community. But he conceded his expertise preceded the Social Media generation and that he'll need to hire 25-year-old staffers to bring his communications up-to-date.

Likewise, Latimer said he'll rely on the brains and wisdom of the real estate experts, bankers and developers in the room to offer him guidance rather than presuming he's the wisest one riding the white horse of leadership.

Latimer said he's building a team approach to solving problems. "The success that we have or don't have is all of us,'' he said. "You need to adjust to realities."

Latimer said he's witnessed an unwillingness to adjust to realities in Washington, D.C., and New York's state capital in Albany.

"That's hard truth to have with your eggs this morning,'' he said. "There's a lot of 'I'm right and you're wrong.'"

All levels of government have been "kicking the can down the road,'' Latimer said, promising to be decisive: "As tough as a decision is, we're going to make it."

Latimer offered several words of wisdom from his late father, Stan. One of the crowd favorites was why his dad preferred living in Westchester: "It's near New York City. It's not New York City."

Latimer, known as an optimist, said that as the incoming county executive "ignorance is bliss. Everything is possible."

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