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(A majority bipartisan coalition of county legislators held a press conference yesterday announcing their support for Legislator Michael Kaplowitz (Dem) for Chair and Legislator Jim Maisano (Rep) for Vice Chair for the 2014-15 term.  The vote is scheduled for January 6 at 7pm and below is Legislator Maisano’s speech).

I’m very proud to stand with this bipartisan team of county legislators to advocate for new leadership for the next term of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL).

I would be incredibly honored to be Vice Chair. I am thrilled to support my good friend Michael Kaplowitz as the next Chair.  Michael is one of the finest legislators I have served with. He is one of the most knowledgeable legislators on budget issues ever on this Board and a strong advocate for environmental protection. I am always impressed with Michael’s independence. He will be a terrific Chair.

Leg. Kaplowitz and I share 32 years of combined legislative experience – we joined the BOL on the same day.

People ask why I have stayed here for so many years and the answer is very simple – I love public service and this legislature. It has been a wonderful experience for one-third of my life and I know Michael feels the same.

Our love and respect for this institution has led us to this press conference today – we are stepping forward to seek the positions of Chair and Vice Chair because we believe we can do a better job of running this legislature.

Over the years, we have watched leaders of our Board do things both the right way and the wrong way. We have a whole lot of ideas to run this legislature better. And our bipartisan majority team of 9 legislators supports our goals. Michael and I thank them for their confidence and support.

When Michael and I arrived in 1998, we were impressed with the bipartisan and collegial way the BOL was run.

Michael and I quickly learned in our first term that there was a protocol, a decorum, a standard of cooperation that productive legislators observed. You can’t govern in a bipartisan way without respect. Having respect for colleagues and this legislative body is what enables us to work together to improve this county.

We cannot continue down the road of political warfare, gridlock and lawsuits, or we risk losing the faith and confidence of the people we have a duty to serve – our Board’s bipartisan tradition has been deeply eroded in recent years.

But we are optimistic and excited to return this Board to its proud status as the most professional, collegial and bipartisan legislature anywhere.

We will work hard each day to create a process of consensus building and cooperation between all 17 legislators.

We will put governing over politics and involve all legislators in the BOL’s operations.

Today, our coalition includes 9 legislators, but the door is open to any legislator that would like to join us.  We would love to put together a bipartisan coalition of 17 legislators.

And let me make one thing very clear – our team will demonstrate strong legislative oversight of the county executive and his administration, but will do so in less political and less partisan manner – putting the emphasis on working through differences in a serious and productive way.

Today is about the future and today is about ensuring the people of Westchester can again be proud of their county legislature.

I could not be more excited to begin working with my good friend Michael Kaplowitz and our bipartisan coalition to make this legislature the finest in the country.

County Legislator
Jim Maisano