Oath of Office Address
Marcus J. Molinaro
Dutchess County Executive
December 28, 2015
I am honored, grateful and humbled that you have granted me another four-year term as your County Executive. It is difficult for me to express just how much your overwhelming support means to me; and while I will spend every day working to express that gratitude, let me begin today by simply saying thank you.
You just met the three most important people in my life: Abigail and Jack give meaning and purpose to my very existence; and, Corinne – Corinne makes every day meaningful and provides me peace and encouragement, she challenges me to be better, do more and be the husband, father and man I only hope to be. Thank you.
Thank you too to Neil Pollack and the Anderson Center for Autism. We appreciate your hospitality and service to the community.
The Anderson Center lifts up and supports a segment of our population that too often is overlooked, underappreciated and struggles to have a voice in our shared community.
Last year, I introduced Think Differently as a philosophy to guide us – a call to action for all of us to embrace each other, regardless of ability. Think Differently isn’t a political slogan, it’s not a marketing motto, and it isn’t a hollow statement without definition; it is a challenge. A challenge to all of us to think about how we treat one another and whether we have it within ourselves to look past our differences and embrace the unique abilities and unyielding potential that dwells within every one.
We could learn a lot from the Anderson Center and the amazing individuals who benefit from its work and that of the countless organizations and service providers that seek to give voice and provide support for those with special abilities.
When I took office, my Administration sought to apply core decision-making principles when confronting challenges: Focus, Logic, Inclusion and Fairness.
To these principles, I would add compassion. Compassion and empathy allow us to reach back to lift others up. To understand the perspective, background and experiences of others. To realize that every day is an opportunity for us to make a difference, touch a heart, encourage a mind and inspire a soul.
We have come a long way in four short years and I am excited to see what we can accomplish, working together over these next four years.
During my first term we transformed County Government and with consolidations and mergers we made it smaller and more efficient, saving taxpayer dollars without diminishing services.
Among our priorities must be to strengthen the county’s response to those individuals who struggle with substance abuse, addiction and mental illness. Our goal is to make Dutchess County the healthiest county in New York State and I am confident together we will get there.
Our efforts include reshaping mental health services and overall public health, advancing the work of our Mobile Mental Health Intervention Team, making our Mental Health Helpline and Suicide Prevention App better known and more greatly utilized resources. In 2016, we will continue our Crisis Intervention Training and Mental Health First Aid – and call on all law enforcement agencies to accept the challenge to have all police officers on the roads in our communities trained within the next 24 months – something no other county in America can claim.
We will open our Mental Health Stabilization Center for individuals to be treated, stabilized and placed in an appropriate setting rather than committing a crime, ending up as a statistic in a jail, or taking their own life.
We will seek to strengthen our criminal justice system, applying the concepts of restorative justice as a model for other counties across New York. In the process we will help individuals break the cycle of criminal behavior, while providing for the public safety and dedicating dollars saved into a complete system of prevention, intervention, diversion and transition – unlike any county in the nation.
In Dutchess County, we pledge to stand with victims of abuse and seek to bring abusers to justice while working to prevent incidents of violence in all of its forms.
Our Sexual Assault Response Team, Domestic Abuse Response Team and partnerships with Family Services, Grace Smith House, House of Hope and others will continue and grow stronger.
We will strengthen our response to child neglect, abuse and human trafficking; and we will continue aggressive outreach to seniors and veterans throughout our county.
When I took that oath of office four years ago, New York and this County were enduring a prolonged economic recession where jobs and hope where scarce.
Together, we weathered the “Great Recession” and our fiscal situation is better than it was four years ago. But we need to do more.
We need to do more to improve the “fiscal situation” of working families throughout Dutchess County who aren’t feeling as optimistic about their future as they once did.
While our unemployment rate is trending in the right direction, there are still too many who are underemployed or lack economic security.
That’s why we will work tirelessly – in this not so job-friendly state – to retain and attract jobs and create opportunities for individuals and families to prosper and grow.
Over the next four years our Th!nk Dutchess Alliance for Business will focus on and implement an aggressive pro-jobs agenda.
Together, we have accomplished so much and I owe a debt of gratitude to our countywide elected officials – Sheriff Butch Anderson, District Attorney Bill Grady, County Clerk Brad Kendall, and Comptroller Jim Coughlan.
And to the members of the Dutchess County Legislature, especially outgoing Legislature Chairman and Poughkeepsie’s Mayor-elect Rob Rolison – thank you for your partnership and proving that by working together we can make better decisions, more opportunities and a better future for Dutchess County.
To you all, thank you.
Finally let me take aim at a growing misconception that seems to be infecting our national and state politics.
There has been a lot of talk lately that the best of America, that the best of New York is behind us. That my children, your children and grandchildren won't have the same opportunities. That technology will replace jobs, that wages won't grow – that the gap between the rich and the poor will only widen.
Incidents at Newtown and San Bernardino rightfully have us worrying about both our security at home and individual constitutional rights.
We look to Albany and see corruption and in Washington, gridlock – citizens from all walks of life, every background, race and generation losing faith in their government and those who either hold office or are seeking our trust and vote.
Everywhere they see broken promises.
As a result - too many people are scared.
I won’t pretend that we alone in Dutchess County can set straight the problems we face – nor change the entire landscape, but we can set an example that will make a difference.
In Dutchess County we still believe that holding elected office is a sacred obligation...an obligation that thrives on honesty, diligence and optimism. That's a belief that I know the elected officials who represent this county in Washington and Albany share.
In Dutchess County we seek to keep our promises – not just as elected officials but as family, neighbors and friends.
We know, as it is the very nature of every New Yorker, every American, that our best days must still be before us. That we must leave for our children a better community than the one we inherited.
And it is this optimism, and not the manifestation of our fears, that binds us together.
We know that when we come together, when we put aside our differences and think differently, we can make a difference and solve hard problems. We know it because in Dutchess County that’s what we do.
We have faced crises before and always emerged stronger.
In his first inaugural address to a nation in the grips of the Great Depression, Dutchess County’s own FDR famously said -- "there is nothing to fear, but fear itself."
Ladies and gentlemen, the best vaccine against fear is optimism.
The best antidote to fear is unity.
I have boundless optimism when it comes to the future for our community and know that together we can ensure our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to live and pursue their dreams right here – in this place we call home.
In this beautiful Valley, along this majestic River – we can better define who we are and how we hope to live. We can revitalize our communities, grow our economy, protect our environment. We can provide a government that is more open, more engaging and more transparent – one that is as great as the people it serves.
We can, with compassion, embrace our differences, speak for those too often overlooked, give voice to those who struggle, improve the condition for all those who seek a better future – and give hope that the best is yet to come.
I am honored, grateful and humbled to serve as your County Executive and ask God to bless Dutchess County and the United States of America.