WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Democrat George Latimer was sworn in Sunday as Westchester County Executive with remarks and encouragement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
As WCBS 880’s John Metaxas reported, Cuomo also vowed to fight Washington’s repeal of full deductibility of state and local taxes.
In November, Latimer defeated Republican incumbent Rob Astorino with 57 percent of the vote. He won what was supposed to be a very close race.
“Don’t forget what you accomplished here. It shows what team can do when we put aside the differences and all the pettiness, and we come together and we say we focus on one goal. Because George Latimer’s win was not just a win,” Cuomo said Sunday as he swore in Latimer. “It was a resounding statement by the people of this county. And you made it happen and congratulations.”
But Cuomo also used the opportunity Sunday to take a swipe at Republican lawmakers in Washington and warn that New York is in the midst of dark times.
“They’re making statements about who we are as a people, who we are as a society, what our character consists of, how we treat one another. They’re trying to take decades of process and civil rights and human rights and roll it all back. They want to roll back a woman’s right to choose. They want to roll back the way we treat women with respect and dignity and equality. They want to roll back LGBTQ rights. They want to roll back environmental protections. They want to roll back health care for the poor. They want to roll back our gun safety laws. All across the board,” Cuomo said.
He also accused Republican lawmakers of “assaulting” the state of New York with the federal tax bill.
“What the tax bill did is it targets the Democratic states to serve as a piggy bank to fund the tax cut for the red states,” Cuomo said.
In particular, Cuomo said, the tax bill will “place a tremendous pressure on local governments,” including that of Westchester County. The governor noted that Westchester has among the highest property taxes in the U.S., and the tax bill places a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.
“So, it requires all of us, from the federal officials, to the state officials, to the county executive to deal with this time because this is going to be a crucial and transformative time for the state,” Cuomo said.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was also present for the swearing in, but he had to leave early, Cuomo noted.
“He had to leave because he is suing the federal government for what they’re doing to the State of New York,” Cuomo said.
When it comes to Latimer, Cuomo said he won a “long shot race.” But he said Latimer had the “courage.”
“George knew the odds. But he knew it was important to start to make the statement and to articulate the case. For people to understand what this is all about. And he had the personal courage to do it,” Cuomo said. “And in this occupation, courage is the number one qualification in my opinion.”
Latimer, a 63-year-old, married former marketing executive from Rye, started out as a Rye city councilman. He then served 13 years as a Westchester County legislator and 13 as a New York state senator.
Political analysts say strong voter turnout – especially among anti-Trump Democrats and independents – was to credit for Latimer’s victory in the county executive race.