Astorino’s Themes of Economic Development, Repurposing, and Work. Live. Play., Strongly Echoed the WCA’s BLUEPRINT Agenda
At the start of his second term, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is embracing collaboration as a way to grow Westchester’s economy. “Collaboration pays dividends,” he said during his remarks at the 17th annual Westchester County Association (WCA) County Executive breakfast on January 23. A Reporters’ Roundtable, composed of top Westchester print and electronic journalists, immediately followed...
County Executive Robert Astorino at the WCA event, Jan. 23.
Astorino said collaborating with the private sector leads to economic growth, citing his administration’s outreach to Pepsi, Xylem, and MasterCard, which he said led to those companies remaining and investing in Westchester.
"Government does not create jobs, but we can create a pro-business atmosphere,” he emphasized to a crowd of over 300 business leaders at the breakfast.
The roundtable considered his speech but also his chances in the upcoming gubernatorial race. “His speech seemed to indicate that he is running, particularly with his emphasis on collaboration and bipartisanship—a key selling point of Rob Astorino to the state,”” said Phil Reisman, a columnist at The Journal News.
Westchester journalists offered instant analysis of Astorino's speech at the WCA Reporters Roundtable.
Tara Rosenblum, a News 12 anchor and Reporters’ Roundtable panelist, agreed, noting the county executive’s potential run is “the worst-kept secret in New York politics.” She thought that Astorino was echoing voters’ sentiment when he emphasized the need for collaboration. “Partisan politics is old-school; it’s the politics of yesterday. When people head to the ballot box they are not looking at whether you’re Democrat, Republican, or Conservative. They are looking for people who are going to roll up their sleeves and focus on the issues that matter most to them,” said Rosenblum.
Astorino commended the WCA for “their tremendous leadership” which last year led to the creation of a Local Development Corporation in Westchester, which has already leveraged $313 million in investments to help 5 hospitals and 3 universities to reduce costs and create hundreds of new jobs in the county. He also said he was a “big fan” of the WCA’s vision “Work. Live. Play.” for attracting and retaining young professionals in Westchester.
“This vision speaks to the totality of Westchester and what we can offer,” Astorino noted. “We have a unique set of advantages that allow us to thrive as a place to work, live, and play…[including] the new Tappan Zee Bridge which will be the gateway to Westchester’s future—this bridge will serve as a catalyst for bringing companies and jobs to the county.”
Astorino said, like the WCA, he is an advocate for repurposing the office space on Westchester’s Platinum Mile along the I-287 corridor, and he planned to host a roundtable in February with building owners, business and municipal leaders to work together to promote “smart and sensible development.”
All of the panelists agreed that Astorino would have some major hurdles to overcome, including fundraising and name recognition in other parts of the state. Panelists also pointed out that Astorino’s announcing his candidacy for governor was pretty certain, and that Governor Cuomo was watching carefully how the race was shaping up, even though he has a substantial lead in the polls.
“When George Pataki first ran for governor [in 1994], he was a complete unknown,” noted John Golden, bureau chief at the Westchester County Business Journal. “There’s a conservative base upstate, and in some cases, a 2:1 Republican majority. Astorino’s message will play very well there.”
The Reporters’ Roundtable was comprised of Nancy Cutler, with The Journal News Media Group, who served as moderator; Phil Reisman and David McKay Wilson of The Journal News; John Goff and Tara Rosenblum from News 12 Westchester; and John Golden from Westchester County Business Journal.