Rockland County legislators appointed Alden Wolfe as their
chairperson; Jay Hood as their vice chairperson, Aron Wieder as majority party
leader and Cris Carey as minority party leader at Monday’s reorganization
meeting. The legislators unanimously approved the appointment of Barry Kantrowitz of New City to represent District Five for one year.
Wolfe had previously served as vice chairperson and Hood had been the Democratic majority leader. Carey is serving his second year as the Republican minority leader. Kantrowitz is taking over the seat held by County Executive Ed Day and will have to run for election in November.
Wieder of Spring Valley named Toney Earl also of Spring Valley as the deputy majority leader. Carey of Bardonia named Frank Sparaco of Valley Cottage as deputy minority leader.
Legislator Harriet Cornell, who had served as chairperson for nine years, nominated Kantrowitz to fill the vacant seat, saying he has demonstrated his love for Rockland through his community service. She said his legal background; expertise and experience working with the county’s different ethnic groups will make a valuable legislator.
Wolfe, who seconded the nomination, said, “This may be Barry’s first day in public office but not his first day in public service.”
After being sworn in, Kantrowitz said he would work to meet as many District Five residents as possible in the next few months. The graduate of the East Ramapo School District said he realized the problems of that district are not within the legislature’s jurisdiction he will do what he can to improve it. Kantrowitz, an attorney, also said he hopes to work with the other legislators to repair and restore Rockland’s financial stability.
“Together with my partners I’ve been an effective advocate for families, for individuals, for businesses in the judicial branch of government helping them work their way through what is sometimes a very convoluted court process,” said Kantrowitz. “I’m looking forward to using those skills to give my constituents, my friends, my neighbors a voice in a legislature in the legislative branch of our county government.”
Cornell also nominated Wolfe as chairperson stating that she was passing the baton into experienced and capable hands. She noted the Suffern resident is an attorney, who graduated from Leadership Rockland, has volunteered with the Rockland Community College Foundation and Habitat For Humanity and authored many of the county’s laws.
Wolfe said one of his goals was to explore changing the county budgeting process to allow legislators more time to examine the county executive’s budget. He said Rockland has dealt with challenging economic issues in past years.
“But here at the beginning of 2014 I believe that Rockland County has turned the corner,” said Wolfe. “I’m proud that we have a balanced budget for this year that incorporates both the recommendations of our independent auditors and the requirements of the New York State comptroller. We have conservative revenue estimates and a spending plan that sets us up for a year in the black.”
Wolfe said he would continue to oppose the Hudson River desalination plant and plans to introduce water conservation legislation.
“In the coming weeks I’ll also be introducing a non-emergency water conservation law that will maximize conservation and heighten awareness of our most wasteful water use practices,” said Wolfe.
The newly appointed majority and minority leaders said the county’s financial woes are not behind it.
Hood of Haverstraw said as he nominated Wieder that he was passionate and a reasonable voice for his community. Wieder’s outspoken opposition to state mandates and delayed reimbursements was mentioned.
“Rockland County is facing monumental challenges, the likes we haven’t seen in recent history between economic gloom, social strife and everything in the middle,” Wieder said. “It has morphed into a real crisis. Citizens throughout the county are filled with angst and uncertainty.”
Carey said his focus will be on the county’s fiscal crisis. He said he was a pessimist and does not believe Rockland has “turned the corner” toward an improved financial condition.
The county is expected to have a $140 million budget deficit for 2013.
Editor's Note: To hear more of Alden Wolfe's remarks, click here.