New Westchester County Executive George Latimer was sworn in on Monday after which he announced a set of early initiatives that he said focused on increasing the transparency of county government.
Latimer, a Democrat from Rye, defeated incumbent Republican Robert Astorino in November. Latimer was sworn in New Year’s Day by state Supreme Court Justice Gretchen Walsh at the county executive’s office on the ninth floor of the county’s Michaelian Office Building in White Plains.
Upon officially taking office, Latimer signed an executive order which would remove the names and likeness of current county elected officials from directional, informational and promotional signs, such as in parks and at the airport. He also issued a policy titled “Good Neighbor,” which requires the county to present any proposed action on county lands to the local governing bodies.
He also submitted a formal request to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office to perform a “full and open review” of the county’s policies and procedures.
The plans will be evaluated “in light of the priorities that we have, which may or may not differ from the prior administration,” Latimer said. “If we wind up having a change in direction or negotiations, we’ll certainly share that with you. We understand that the airport issue involves quite a bit of money, which was predicated on the budget that was adopted by the Board of Legislators, over the veto of my predecessor. So we understand there’s an economic issue at hand. But there are other factors involved, and so we’ll try to address them, along with many other priorities, as fast as we can.”
Latimer also announced he would form a task force to revisit opportunities for shared services in the county, an initiative pushed statewide by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
In December, Latimer announced several nominations to his leadership team. Retiring county Legislator Ken Jenkins as deputy county executive; John Nonna, a former county legislator and mayor of Pleasantville, as county attorney; and Catherine Cioffi, a former radio news reporter and director of public relations and marketing for Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, as director of communications. Joan McDonald, a former New York State Department of Transportation commissioner, was nominated as director of operations. Latimer also announced in December that seven county department heads from Astorino’s administration would be asked to stay on under his administration.
The new county executive will hold a more formal inauguration ceremony on Jan. 7 at Westchester Community College.
Other day one initiatives announced by Latimer include a #MyWestchester social media campaign to promote the county and a two-week “Tour of Change,” for which Latimer will make a series of announcements throughout the county.