Good Evening.

Tonight, I am privileged to stand alongside my colleagues in government to mark my seventh State of the County address. Here, in the People’s Chamber, a space where members of the Board of Legislators and the public come together, to witness this event.

Chairman Vedat Gashi and members of the Board, my friends, I extend my sincere gratitude for your leadership and for affording me the opportunity to address you tonight. I also wish to acknowledge and pay homage to those currently serving our County, and those who paved the way before us. My appreciation goes to County Clerk Tim Idoni, District Attorney Mimi Rocah, former Chairman and current Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, former Chairman and current Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Facilities Michael Kaplowitz, former Chairman and current Legislator Ben Boykin, immediate past Chairwoman and Special Advisor on Women and Families Catherine Borgia, and all other elected officials here with us tonight. We are colleagues, we are sometimes in disagreement, but we are always friends. 

To my executive team, including my senior team - Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, Director of Operations Joan McDonald, County Attorney John Nonna, Director of Communications Catherine Cioffi, Director of Intergovernmental Relations Steve Bass, Chief of Staff Andrew Ferris, Director of Research Ellen Hendrickx, Director of Countywide Administrative Services Chris Steers and Deputy Director of Operations Emily Saltzman - I extend my heartfelt appreciation for your exceptional contributions to this great County, and for sitting through my meetings and listening to my stories.

To the County workforce, other people who listen to my stories, I want to say thank you. I see what you do - we all see what you do - and long after I’m gone the next County Executive will see what you do too. You are the backbone of our government, and I applaud each and every one of you. You are my brothers and sisters. 

For those joining us from the comfort of your homes through Facebook Live or following along on the County’s webpage, thank you.  Thank you for being engaged citizens, thank you for calling us and emailing us with your ideas, compliments and sometimes complaints. This is democracy, it’s gritty and raw, but it is the best system in existence and we are all - each and every one of us -  in this together. 

Tonight, there are some new faces in the Chamber. New faces is a phrase that conjures images of change, of fresh perspectives and of promise. But tonight, I want to redefine what new faces mean for us in Westchester County. Yes, it is about a fresh perspective and promise, but it is also about recognizing that these new people have been working hard to better this County long before they walked into this room. It is about recognizing and celebrating the unsung heroes, the dedicated individuals who have always been advocates for our great County, pushing us forward and who now are new faces in a different setting.

  • Legislator Emiljana Ulaj (OO-lie)
  • Legislator Judah Holstein 
  • Legislator Shanae Williams 
  • Westchester County Department of Planning Commissioner Blanca Lopez
  • Westchester County Medical Examiner Dr. Aleksandar Milovanovic (ME- lo-VON-o-VICH)
  • Westchester County Office of Housing Counsel Director George K. Asante 
  • Westchester County Human Rights Deputy Director Julia De Persia, Esq.
  • Westchester County Health Department Director of Clinical Services and Clinic Operations Dr. Reena Agarwal (A-gar-WALL)

In Westchester County, we are fortunate to have a wealth of talent, diversity and expertise. Our strength lies in the collective efforts of our residents, each bringing a unique perspective and skill set to the table. As we move forward, let us commit to fostering an environment where every individual feels valued and appreciated. 

Let us see the value in electing leaders who have no scandals, no hate, no conspiracy theories, leaders who aren’t breaking campaign pledges or becoming a national punchline. 

Together, we can build on the foundation laid by those who have dedicated their lives to Westchester. Let us support our teachers, healthcare workers, first responders and local businesses.

By investing in the talents and potential of our own community, we can ensure a brighter future for all.

The current state of our County is characterized by a sense of newness and vitality. We proudly embody the essence of “new faces,” individuals who bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the forefront. Yet, intertwined with this newness is the richness of experience, and a tapestry of accomplishments that defines the very fabric of our community.

I know the people of Westchester, I see dozens of them every day, people of all demographics, in all corners of the County. We hear everyone’s voices - and we know the wide range of these voices. 

In Westchester County, the State of our County is firmly rooted in strength, while growing and changing for the better.

Video 1: Where we are Today in Westchester

Just a few months ago, I signed the 2024 Westchester County Budget, my sixth, solidifying the County’s fiscal stability, sustainable development and enhanced public services. I didn’t work to accrue more debt for this County. Instead - the 2024 Westchester County Budget, which totals $2.4 billion, maintains the same County property tax levy as 2023, marking the fifth consecutive year without a tax levy increase. The budget passed with bipartisan support from you, the Westchester County Board of Legislators.  

The budget signing came on the heels of Westchester County being recognized by Fitch Ratings with a prestigious “AAA” credit rating. The “AAA” credit rating is the highest designation possible and underscores the County’s commitment to maintaining a solid financial foundation. 

Additionally, S&P Global Ratings recently revised its outlook on Westchester County from stable to positive and affirmed its “AA+” long-term rating on the County’s existing general obligation bonds. 

Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the County’s credit position as “Aa1 stable.” 

And, after another successful year of strong fiscal performance, the New York State Comptroller recently lowered the fiscal stress score for the County to zero. This is the best score a municipality can achieve, indicating outstanding financial stability.

We are focusing on our finances, but we are also focusing on yours.

We were able to ease the burden on our residents’ wallets this past holiday season suspending the Bee-Line Bus fares from December 16 until January 1. The fare suspension also applied to the County’s ParaTransit system. That was the fourth time - and second consecutive holiday season -  we were able to do this. I know, I know, you want to know about the summer….give me a little time.  

In our ongoing commitment to support hard-working parents, we expanded the Child Care Scholarship Program, broadening eligibility to 500% of the Federal Poverty Level. This initiative reflects our dedication to providing access to quality childcare and a productive workforce. 

Westchester Works Child Care Scholarship Program reported that in 2023:

  • 565 children were approved for the scholarship.
  • Most approved families were from Southern Westchester with Yonkers as the most common municipality.
  • The scholarship awards covered an average of 60% of the cost of care, with an average scholarship of $699 per month.

With a dedicated focus on food security, we also allocated $1.3 million in funding to ensuring that every resident that needs them has access to nutritious meals.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are working together with you to pass legislation that I will sign, to provide free home lock changes for survivors of domestic violence within the County, while also providing shelter for survivors while the locks are changed. 

And we also took the time to recognize our past, our legacy, our veterans, specifically Veteran Joseph Frank, and designated a special day just for him. Frank, a Port Chester native, is a distinguished combat Army Infantryman who served his nation overseas during World War II.  He is our County’s oldest living veteran - at the age of 106.

 Video 2: A Tribute to Veteran Joseph Frank 

We express our gratitude to Mr. Frank for his selfless service, and to all our Westchester County veterans. Would all the veterans in the room please stand for our thanks.

In our journey towards a more sustainable Westchester County, we’ve made significant strides. Last October, the Department of Environmental Facilities unveiled the Recycle Coach app, an innovative platform that not only provides essential information on municipal collection schedules and local disposal guidelines, but also features scanning capabilities, empowering individuals to make informed purchasing choices to reduce waste in our communities.

We’ve also expanded the County’s existing textile recycling program by offering curbside collection. Now residents of participating municipalities can register for curbside collection of textiles, making recycling items like shirts, blankets and towels even more convenient.

In 2023, our Household Recycling Day events attracted 3,500 households, resulting in the collection of over 170,000 pounds of waste.

Over 16,000 households utilized the Household-Material Recovery Facility, delivering 850,000 pounds of waste.

Additionally, our Mobile Shredder events served thousands of households, shredding hundreds of tons of documents for recycling.

DEF’s Residential Food Scrap Transportation & Disposal Program collected over 1,100 tons of food scraps for composting. 

Building on this momentum, together with the Board of Legislators we have passed, signed and are implementing the single-use food ware law.

These efforts underscore our commitment to sustainability and community well-being.

We’ve made a substantial investment of $20 million to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure at County parking facilities. We’ve also launched a Grant Program for EV Charging Stations allocating $5 million to support municipal governments to increase the number of EV charging stations.

I also signed several crucial environmental bills that have been crafted by this administration.  These bills represent the County’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life for our community by addressing pressing issues and meeting the evolving needs of our residents. The environmental law package included:


  • The Lead Free Parks Act 
  • The Addressing Asthma in Communities of Color Amendment 
  • The Renewable Energy Database Act 
  • The Equity in Environmental Legislation Act 

Since our administration first took office in 2018, affordable housing - and the availability of affordable housing throughout the County - has remained a top priority.

Video 3: Housing for All

Six years into our tenure, nearly six thousand units of affordable housing have been built, gone under construction, or are in the pipeline for the future. 

Our Affordable Housing Investment Flex Fund – or “HFF” Program – is a new, affordable housing production tool which was created to help increase the number of units across Westchester. Since the official launch of the program in early 2024, the County has already received over 17 applications from developers totaling over $110 million in funding. 

Flooding impacts countless residents and businesses throughout the County – On Call Planning Consultants and the addition of a Director of Flood Mitigation and Resiliency was added to the Planning Department’s budget for 2024. These additions will help our Planning Department support municipalities in developing and managing flood prevention and mitigation projects, as well as look at ways to maximize state and federal funding. 

Peer support from people with similar lived experience is a cornerstone of addiction and mental health recovery. We are proud to announce that new this year, we have launched a program called Lives Forward. It is a collaboration between our departments of Community Mental Health and Correction, training much-needed peers to help those with addiction and mental health needs. Working together, we are filling the shortage of trained para-professionals, while also achieving greater health outcomes and reducing recidivism.

We have witnessed, not just here in Westchester but across our nation, the terrible toll fentanyl has taken on our communities. Last year, through our Opioid Response and Overdose Prevention Initiative, we distributed over $5 million from the County’s opioid settlement funds to local organizations to expand and increase treatment, prevention, recovery and harm reduction programs. 

Another nearly $5 million from the opioid settlements has been utilized to build out Project Alliance and sustain our “Reimagining Policing” efforts, including supporting the “988” Crisis and Suicide Prevention Hotline, and our Mobile Crisis Response Teams.

Through our Department of Community Mental Health, we will expand outpatient clinic capacity to meet the shortfall, and address the waitlists for care in Westchester. With an investment of nearly $1 million in capital funding, we are working to open a clinic that can serve as a center of care providing individuals with initial treatment, and guidance to long term assistance.

Here in Westchester we support infrastructure, always, and we vote and enact legislation to support it.  We just don’t talk about it. Tonight I am proud to sign into law, the $52.8-million-dollar Glen Island Bridge Construction Bond Act that you all passed just a few days ago. The Act is among the most significant construction projects in Westchester County in the past decade.  So, let’s take a look.

Video 4: Restoring the Glen Island Bridge

This project reflects the County’s dedication to addressing critical infrastructure needs. Additionally, the County has successfully finalized the Inter-Municipal Agreement between the County and the City of New Rochelle.  Also, a notable aspect of the project is the incorporation of a Project Labor Agreement, showing our respect and commitment to fair pay for fair work. So, time for a signature!

Vedat to hand you the bill at the podium, and you sign the bill. Hand the bill back to Vedat.

Westchester County has taken a leadership role in developing a lithium ion battery safety program. These batteries are everywhere: phones, laptops, lawn mowers and scooters. While we move forward with clean energy and climate initiatives that rely more on electric vehicles and battery storage, it becomes even more important that we also ensure these technologies are used safely.  My administration, along with the Departments of Emergency Services, Environmental Facilities and Consumer Protection, developed a four-point safety program:

  • Legislation
  • Safe Disposal
  • Firefighter training
  • Public education

Westchester County is proud to lead the way on this important and growing public safety issue. 

Recently I also signed legislation aimed at recognizing and supporting the essential role of volunteer firefighters and ambulance service members. The law creates guidelines for a property tax break for those who serve, have served and their spouse - and lowers the threshold for services from five years to two years. We are proud to stand behind those who protect our community. If you’re a member of a volunteer fire company, you may be eligible for a tax break of up to 10% on your County property taxes. Look into it - tonight!

And, this complements our HERRO Program as well. To date, Westchester County has allocated over $1 million to recipients through its tuition and student loan reimbursement initiative. This initiative aims to support volunteer fire departments and EMS agencies in their efforts to attract and retain community heroes.

In the Department of Public Safety, we are launching a new threat assessment center to prevent targeted violence and provide the public a direct way to report persons or groups they fear may be planning acts of mass violence or domestic terrorism. The Westchester County Threat Assessment Center (WESTAC) utilizes multi-disciplinary teams consisting of law enforcement, mental health professionals, social workers, school officials and other community stakeholders. The Center will receive, assess and manage threats or potential threats of targeted violence and attempt to prevent it from occurring.

Their email is and their phone number is 914-864-7834. BUT as always, anyone who has information about an immediate threat of violence should call 911, not report it through the Assessment Center. 

Expanding on protecting your health, we continue to support the uninsured and underinsured residents of Westchester, bolstering our Federally Qualified Health Centers with $3 million in funding. Priorities of this initiative include expanding community access to primary and preventive health services at Westchester Community Health Center, Open Door Family Medical Center and Sun River Health by increasing patient outreach and encouraging routine exams, dental visits, screenings and vaccinations.

We also set aside more than $1 million for our Black Maternal Child Health Initiative - a three-pronged approach to improve Black maternal and child health outcomes, reduce racial healthcare inequities, and create lasting partnerships with key community groups. 

A $1.5-million-dollar grant has been dedicated to promoting tobacco prevention and cessation programs throughout the County, through partnerships with nine community-based organizations. These programs will seek to prevent the use of cigarettes, vapes and other tobacco products among Westchester’s children, teens and young adults through evidence-based programs that focus on peer-led discussions and engaging activities. 

Recently we conducted a bus tour which brought key industry stakeholders from New York City to Westchester, to educate them on the vibrancy of the Life Sciences in the County. Stops included Regeneron, New York Medical College, Burke Neurological and many others.

We also established a Clean Energy Careers Working Group with Sustainable Westchester, engaging employers and key stakeholders to develop training programs for the sector. Collaborating with Sustainable Westchester, Pace University and New Yorkers for Clean Power, we will be hosting the inaugural Clean Energy Careers Summit this April 3 at Pace University in White Plains.

The Westchester County Biosciences Accelerator added another cohort of 12 startups. To-date, the participants have raised more than $17 million in funding and have created 62 full-time and 62 part-time jobs. 

We also continued Element 46, the County’s startup business accelerator. This year’s cohort aligns with our economic development strategy in that the entire cohort consists of technology startups. Our Launch1000 Program has, to date, over 350 startups working across the County and beyond.

The Office of Economic Development also launched the DIG Program, a competitive program in which five municipalities were selected to undergo a market analysis on improvements to their downtowns.  The County will contribute a match on the implementation of the improvements in 2024.

In 2023 we hosted job fairs for formerly-incarcerated and justice-impacted individuals, and we launched our Diverse Abilities initiative which focuses on employment opportunities for those who are disabled in partnership with Westchester County Office for People with Disabilities.

We hosted the first ever event combining MWBEs and Chambers of Commerce that attracted hundreds of participants, many of whom have never met one another prior to this event. 

When it comes to travel we are seeing results, and we are going after more.  Westchester’s travel and tourism remained a significant driver of the economy with visitor spending reaching $2 billion in 2022. This very County represented 43% of all visitor spending in the Hudson Valley region and we rank fifth in visitor spending in all of New York State. That is why this year we used ARPA funding to dedicate $2.1 million to promoting Westchester County as a tourist destination. As we have said all along this is a great place to live, work and play. 

Our Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors – also known as TIPS – is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. On a weekly basis, metrics including blood pressure, weight, pulse and oxygen are taken from participants in more comfortable settings. 

This Program has led to a reduction in hospital and emergency room visits for our older residents by 30% and 35% respectively. And not only that, the TIPS program has also improved the mental and emotional wellbeing of our older residents, through the face-to-face interactions between the college and university age students who are taking vitals, and our senior citizens.

A $300,000 annual investment in our TIPS program has improved our seniors’ access to telehealth services across the County. This includes site management, equipment, telehealth nurses, incentives and more at our sites in Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Peekskill, New Rochelle, Mount Pleasant, Mount Kisco, Yorktown, Elmsford, Eastchester and right here in White Plains.

Westchester County has always been a place of innovation, progress and compassion. As we embrace the concept of new faces, let us remember that the true strength of our County lies in the collective spirit of its people. Together, we will continue to write the story of Westchester's success - one that honors our past, celebrates our present and looks forward to a future filled with endless possibilities.

Video 5: Strength Through Diversity

Thank you, Westchester, for the privilege of serving you as your County Executive. Let us work hand in hand to build a brighter, stronger and more inclusive future for all.

Good night.