NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – For the first time in two decades, Rockland County has a new executive.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams sat down with C. Scott Vanderhoef, a Republican who was at the helm for five consecutive terms.
Vanderhoef said he is humbled and grateful that Rockland voters continued to re-elect him over all those years.
“Ironically, I proposed about 20 years ago that we have term limits for county executive,” said Vanderhoef.
That proposal never passed. Vanderhoef chose not to seek a sixth term.
Looking back over two decades, he said Rockland now has more people, more cars and is more diverse.
“This isn’t the county of 1950s anymore and it’s one of both the strengths and it’s also a challenge,” Vanderhoef said.
He said a lot has been accomplished in his tenure.
“The saving of 1,200 acres of land and establishing 10 new county parks,” Vanderhoef told Adams.
But the budget proved to be the greatest struggle over his 20 years in office.
“The biggest challenge has got to be the last four years recession. We had a tax certiorari that eliminated our surplus and then we went into the recession and we’ve really struggled trying to keep our sales tax revenues where we thought they would be and taking care of expenditures and we built up a deficit,” Vanderhoef said. “This recession really hit us hard.”
The deficit stands at around $127 million. A state-approved bond and the sale of the county nursing home will help right the ship, Adams reported.
Aside from the budget, Vanderhoef pointed to another dark day.
“Certainly Sept. 11. How do you respond to people who say ‘am I safe?'” he told Adams.
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Looking to the future, Vanderhoef said all eyes must remain on the new Tappen Zee Bridge.
“The original bridge transformed little Rockland County and this new bridge will transform it again,” he told Adams. “It will, undoubtedly, effect not just transportation, congestion. It’ll effect land use.”
Vanderhoef said he is going to take a little time away from the public sector. He’ll teach environmental law at St. Thomas Aquinas College.
He’s already run for congress, lieutenant governor and state senator but said he hasn’t decided whether to seek office again.
“It is unlikely that I would run but I’m not done with it. Once it gets in your blood,” Vanderhoef said.
Republican Ed Day was sworn in as the new Rockland County Executive on New Year’s Day.
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