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State of the County Address - 2016

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Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro presented his 2016 State of the County Address, Wednesday, January 27 at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in the City of Poughkeepsie.

 



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Think Differently. Act Boldly
Healthier. Safer. Stronger. Together
Marcus J. Molinaro
January 27, 2016

 

Think Differently.

Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro

This is a call to action, a genuine challenge to determine if we have it within ourselves to look past our differences and treat others the way we would hope to be treated.  Too often, too many with special needs are overlooked and their unique abilities ignored.  Instead, we seek to lift each other up and embrace all residents of all abilities.

I am fortunate, as the parent of a child with special needs, to have two amazing children and a supportive family.  My wife, Corinne, reminds me we must allow Abigail to overcome her challenges and achieve independence, and we must always be advocates for her and Jack.

There are, however, too many left to fend for themselves, navigating a system and confronting obstacles that seem insurmountable.  And while many in county government and throughout a broad network of service providers try to assist – and do amazing work – we can do better.  That’s why this year we will appoint an advocate; our Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs may be the only such position in the State.  The responsibilities are broad and will require just the right skills.  But the goal is an important one: We boldly seek to change minds, open hearts and inspire a county to celebrate and support the unique abilities of every resident.

In the weeks ahead, our efforts and the undeniable talents of these special individuals will be on full display as we welcome the Special Olympics New York State Winter Games.  These Games and the over 1,000 competitors from across the state will inspire us, as each demonstrates how hard work and dedication help them boldly overcome obstacles, achieving success.

In June, we will continue our partnership and bring the successful Walkway Marathon and Expo back to the Hudson River Valley, this year featuring the inaugural “Think Differently Dash.” We are so proud to host this one-mile run for those with special abilities on right here Market Street in Poughkeepsie.

Today, businesses are seeking new ways to make facilities and services more accessible, training staff to welcome and support special-needs customers and co-workers. And communities are building new parks and playgrounds for kids with physical and cognitive disabilities.  With so many taking up our challenge, later this year we will honor the best efforts of community agencies, municipalities, businesses and individuals with our first-ever “Think Differently Awards.”

And, just as we expand opportunities for Dutchess County residents, in 2016 we will work with Dutchess Tourism and the Anderson Center for Autism to establish Dutchess County and its amazing sites and attractions as an “Autism Supportive Tourist Destination,” where special-needs families feel welcome and are encouraged to visit.

Yes, “Think Differently” is a call to arms – a reminder of what we can achieve when we look past our differences, challenge ourselves and determine to let no obstacle stand in our way.

And, so, while the State of our County is strong, if we Think Differently and Act Boldly, we can make it even stronger.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy, before a joint session of Congress, issued a dramatic and ambitious goal to, within the decade, land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth.

Just eight years later, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong walked on the moon…

Now, I didn’t see Kennedy’s speech and I didn’t witness the Apollo moon landing – mainly because I wasn’t alive – but I have seen the taped clips of those historic moments.  It is still inspiring to ponder the magnitude of the accomplishment and how it all began with a bold, undeniable declaration.

While not on the same scale as rallying a nation, and I am not President Kennedy, tonight I am setting ambitious goals for us to achieve within the next 10 years, and making three bold declarations of my own – to help us define who we are and how we hope to live.

FIRST GOAL:     
To be the Healthiest County in the State of New York

To achieve this we must focus on our public health system, identifying shortcomings and adopting a more holistic approach.  Population Health is a new way of thinking and moves us beyond the traditional view of Public Health and its bureaucratic functions, instead looking closely at a multitude of factors that influence health outcomes.  It is also the logic behind merging public, physical and mental health services.

This is why we selected Dr. Henry Kurban to lead our newly combined Department of Behavioral and Community Health.  It is why we are collaborating with Marist College. Their innovative graduate Physician Assistant Program, with specialization in population health, will cultivate a new generation of providers well versed on how to keep a community healthy.  IBM’s Watson technology is being employed to develop a population health analytic platform.  This bold, new initiative will integrate multidisciplinary healthcare teams, supported by a robust information technology infrastructure all focused on improving overall community health.

Dutchess County ranks ninth in New York for health outcomes and tenth for health factors in the annual County Health Rankings.   Within ten years, we will be No. 1 in New York.

If we are to be the healthiest county in New York, we must lead by example and be the healthiest county government in New York.   This year, we will launch a multi-year employee wellness initiative, encouraging employees to be more conscious of their health to improve morale, productivity and their overall quality of life.

We will strengthen our partnerships to reduce obesity by encouraging physical activity and providing greater access to healthy food options.

By again partnering with Walkway Over the Hudson to present the Walkway Marathon, we highlight how committing to exercise and good nutrition can lead to overall improvements in one’s life.  Training for and completing a run of any distance requires discipline and provides great personal satisfaction.   In this, too, I believe we must lead by example. Having last year run my first half marathon, an experience I will never forget, this year I encourage you to run with me.  I ask my colleagues in government, to join me this year.  If you’ve never tried, make 2016 the year you run or walk the “Think Differently Dash,” 5K run, half or full marathon.

Access to quality food is essential to improving one’s health.  Sadly, affordable and accessible options remain out of reach for far too many.  Among the tasks of a new Agricultural Navigator and the Legislature’s Farm Fresh initiative will be to work with Poughkeepsie Plenty, Hudson Valley Fresh, local farmers and others to identify new outlets and expand access to the wide variety of locally grown foods.  Thank you, Legislators Joel Tyner, Gregg Pulver and Angela Flesland, for initiating this effort.

Dutchess County has the dubious distinction of being the nation’s epicenter for Lyme Disease.   Residents continue to identify Lyme as their greatest environmental concern. We will continue to support the efforts of our local Tick Task Force and partner with New York State Senator Sue Serino, her Senate Task Force and the Cary Institute to provide advocacy, assistance, education, awareness and prevention measures.

We recognize our veterans have unique health needs, too often fighting personal battles with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injury following their service to our country.     Thanks to funding secured by Senator Sue Serino, Dutchess County is able to establish the Joseph Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Veterans Support Program, a highly successful program for veterans to get the help and support they need to successfully reintegrate into their lives and community.

Dutchess County is fortunate to be home to world-class health facilities.  Healthcare options continue to broaden with new investments at MidHudson Regional Hospital, and with HealthQuest now undertaking more than a half-billion dollars in new construction at Northern Dutchess Hospital and Vassar Medical Center.

To ensure residents have ready access to this outstanding care, we must have trained personnel to transport and care for them in an emergency.  We are blessed with amazing volunteer and career emergency responders, but I dare say: This State and our County is on the verge of a crisis.

Too many of our communities are struggling to maintain reliable ambulance service in the face of declining volunteers and rising costs. With support from State Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, I have directed Emergency Response Commissioner Dana Smith to create an ambulance service taskforce – with representatives from Fire and Emergency Medical Services, municipalities, Dutchess Community College and citizens from throughout the county – to assess the myriad issues and develop a county coordinated solution so no one is left without this critical emergency care.

This nation faces a substance abuse epidemic and thanks to efforts by former Health Commissioner Kari Reiber, Deputy DBCH Commissioner Margaret Hirst, retiring Office for the Aging Director Mary Kaye Dolan and Legislator Angela Flesland this county government is on the front line. With our shift to the health of the whole person, we are employing strategies to educate and prevent abuse, address the behavioral factors that lead to abuse and help individuals deal with addiction.

CAPE’s application to create a peer-to-peer Support Center in southern Dutchess County can be a model worth replicating. Their Youth Clubhouse and Lexington Center for Recovery’s proposal of the “Seven Challenges” satellite clinic, both in eastern Dutchess County, also show great promise.  Our community forums, outreach and coalition-building will continue, and we will strengthen programming with CAPE, MARC, Drug Crisis in our Backyard and Friends of Recovery.  Continued coverage by the Poughkeepsie Journal and the courageous testimony from their own Nina Schutzman are necessary if we are to expose the demons of addiction.  A new documentary by Casey Silvestri and the personal pleas from parents who have lost loved ones, accounts from teens scared for their friends, and personal stories of those living with addiction give voice to this devastating struggle.

To address substance abuse and addiction, we will continue to mobilize all our resources – from peer mediation, to law enforcement, from our 24/7 professional HELPLINE to digital applications and access to Narcan – every tool will be used.   And Senator Sue Serino and Assemblywoman Didi Barrett are to be commended for securing the funds that are making this County’s comprehensive approach to behavioral health a model for America’s counties.

As we advance our efforts to become the healthiest county in New York State, we also seek to be the safest.


SECOND GOAL:
To create the Most Comprehensive System of Justice of any county in America 

Dutchess County has worked to develop a criminal justice system that focuses on long-term public safety, is fiscally prudent and delivers effective outcomes.   We have advanced a Dutchess County model for restorative justice focused on law enforcement, victim support, restitution, rehabilitation and redemption.  The Dutchess model falls within four service areas: prevention, intervention, diversion and transition.

This County has long been an innovator in criminal justice practices: County Executive Lucille Pattison recommended and Bill Steinhaus employed one of the first system-wide Criminal Justice Councils in the nation.  There is, however, room to improve the safety of our residents and holes in our system that, once addressed, can ensure justice for all.

Along with the tremendous work they already commit in service to our county, and in light of the horrific tragedies we have witnessed around the country, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office will coordinate Active Shooter Training for our deputies and local law enforcement. Thank you, Sheriff Butch Anderson and Undersheriff Kirk Imperati, for your leadership.

Too many in our community live in abusive relationships.  Dutchess County, will join Family Services, Inc. in boldly declaring that if we “Start by Believing,” we can end assault and abuse.

The challenge to empower and advocate for victims, prevent abuse and prosecute abusers remains our priority. We will continue our work with Grace Smith House, Family Services, House of Hope and the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse – helping teens navigate relationships, supporting shelter services and adding a new Assistant District Attorney to help prosecute child abuse and human trafficking. Thank you, District Attorney Bill Grady, Department of Community and Family Services, Commissioner Sabrina Marzouka, Kathleen Murphy from the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and all our partners in these efforts.

Thanks to Legislator Barbara Jeter-Jackson, the NAACP’s Eloise Maxey, and Human Resources Commissioner Steve Rector, we worked over the last six months to re-establish our Human Rights Commission and appoint our new Equal Opportunity/Human Rights Officer, Jody Miller.

Dutchess County has led the State in protecting the constitutional rights of low-income residents. Public Defender Tom Angell and his talented team of lawyers now provide public defense at the time of arraignment, and are working with community agencies to ensure 24-hour-a-day services that safely divert individuals from the county jail.

We are reshaping mental health services and transforming the criminal justice system to protect the public and advocate for victims, while preventing mental health crisis, and treating mental illness as a disease – not a crime.  Last year, the County Legislature authorized the creation of our new Stabilization Center to divert those in crisis due to substance abuse and/or mental illness away from the county jail and toward the help they need.

There are so many to thank for our efforts – from our county legislators to the many county employees and community agencies engaged in this overhaul – but a special thank you goes to Steve Miccio of PEOPLe, Inc. and Andrew O’Grady of Mental Health America for enlightening us and setting us on a path toward providing a model for counties across the nation.

The Stabilization Center, opening later this year, is part of a progression of steps following the creation of our Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) in 2012 – which last year assisted over 3,700 individuals.

Resources and professionals are available immediately, 24 hours a day seven days a week to support law enforcement responding to behavioral health emergencies, assist those in crisis avoid waiting in an emergency room or unnecessarily going to a jail cell, and helping to prevent an individual in crisis from committing a crime, taking a life or ending their own.

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for local law enforcement, corrections officers and first responders is providing incredible benefit.  Dutchess County is educating them on how to effectively interact with individuals in crisis, creating a partnership between law enforcement, advocacy groups and mental health providers.  Thanks to our work, every law enforcement officer on patrol is being trained in CIT or Mental Health First Aid.  We are grateful to the County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and local law enforcement for embracing this effort and the work you do in our community.

To further our efforts, we call on the State’s Office of Court Administration to fully fund Drug Courts and help us establish a Mental Health Court in Dutchess County – again we are prepared to be a model for New York.

As we divert those with mental health issues away from the jail, we are intervening with others to provide Alternatives to Incarceration, helping individuals change their behavior rather than simply locking them up.  By design and default, we have developed among the broadest range of Alternatives to Incarceration in New York.    The Women’s Reporting Center, a joint effort with our partner Project More, provides case management, behavior therapy, and transitional housing for women. In 2015, 80 women, who would otherwise have been incarcerated, completed the program and earned a tremendous opportunity to turn their lives around.

For those incarcerated by court order, we continue to provide a full spectrum of transitional programs designed to prepare individuals currently in jail to successfully and productively return to our community, reducing the potential for re-offense.

RESTART is the newest program offered at the jail.   High-risk offenders are provided cognitive therapies, linked with critical aftercare, ensuring they are connected with community providers when they return home; and nearly 90% of Dutchess County inmates return to Dutchess County homes. We are expanding services to offer case management, mentoring and job opportunities like those in our Exodus re-entry program for those leaving prison.

Assistant County Executive Ron Hicks, the Workforce Investment Board and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce will work to establish even more job training and employment opportunities for these individuals, and we have “banned the box” from civil service employment applications because those who have repaid their debt to society should at least be given a chance to interview for a job.

Currently, 45 men and 19 women voluntarily participate in the RESTART program, but due to space limitations at the jail, we are already at capacity.  With strong demand and measurable success, lack of space at the current county jail undermines our extensive work.

Our restorative justice approach can be a model for America, but the current county jail is inhumane: It’s too old, too small, too inefficient, too expensive and too unsafe.  With as many as 520 inmates before the temporary units and room for only 257, our jail presents safety risks to inmates and our dedicated corrections officers.  It stifles our restoration and rehabilitation efforts.  And, because of its antiquated design, we spend more tax money to staff this facility for the number of inmates than any county in New York.

In order to properly prevent crime and treat those with mental illness as patients and not prisoners, in order to stop warehousing human beings and instead help break the cycle of criminal behavior, in order to empower individuals to become self-sustaining within their families, neighborhoods and community, the time has come to tear down that jail – demolish much of it and in its place build the most effective and efficient Transition Center of its kind.

For over 20 years, we have debated what to do about our county jail. We have allowed the callous practice of housing massive numbers of inmates in other county jails to annually consume over $8 million of your tax dollars.   Since 2005, we have been under direct order from Albany to build adequate space, and with bi-partisan support these last four years, we engaged in a comprehensive analysis of our entire criminal justice system.

Now is time to solve this problem.

On February 4th, we will present a comprehensive proposal for the design and construction of a Dutchess County Justice and Transition Center.  As we continue our diversion and intervention programs, we will further refine our proposal. But as we will show, financing, constructing and operating a modern facility will be less costly while helping complete the comprehensive system of justice we believe will be a model for counties across the nation.

My submission to the Legislature will also include a $500,000 request to truly break the cycle and reduce the number of young people who enter our criminal justice system.   With so many opportunities to empower our kids and prevent crime, we will conduct the most extensive analysis of youth services and crime prevention ever undertaken.  We will identify strengths, weaknesses, gaps in service and opportunities to improve; and we will create a comprehensive action plan for the most integrated and successful crime prevention and youth empowerment program of any county in New York State.

Further, I am recommending adding $500,000 to the $1 million we have already committed to partnering with the City of Poughkeepsie and others to build a Youth Services Center.   That’s an additional $2 million investment in crime prevention and youth services.

Legislature Chairman Dale Borchert has committed to an open and engaged process to consider these proposals, and all documentation will be provided to the Legislature and public for careful consideration.  Public forums, town hall sessions and several legislative meetings are scheduled for full presentation.  As we have since we began this process, we will gladly answer questions, provide details and welcome suggestions.

THIRD GOAL:
To ignite a Revitalization Revolution

Dutchess County is fortunate.  We have many tools in our planning and development toolbox.  By integrating our tourism, arts and economic development efforts, we have assembled a brilliant team of professionals, as well as business and community leaders, to help grow our economy, promote our county and attract and retain jobs.

Our Distinctly Dutchess tourism campaign has reaped great benefits.  Mary Kay Vrba’s tireless efforts and our  $1 million commitment to Dutchess Tourism has led to a 6% increase in tourist spending - now at over a half a billion dollars – 6% growth in tourism-related sales tax and over 10,000 tourism and agriculture-related jobs.

In order to retain jobs and attract new investment and new jobs, our Th!nk Dutchess Alliance for Business, under  the direction of Assistant County Executive Ron Hicks, is set to aggressively promote Dutchess County to targeted industry clusters and change perceptions inside and outside our community. This week, our economic development team moves into their new, centrally located, one-stop shop for business.

Led by Commissioner Eoin Wrafter, our planning and development team is more engaged and better prepared to assist our communities to foster sustainable growth and ensure appropriate review. Our exclusive program with the Pace Land Use Law Center, a new Urban Planning Coordinator, matched with a new Agricultural Navigator hired later this year, along with our professional staff are ready to assist.

A thriving local private sector is necessary for economic growth to benefit every citizen. Job insecurity, wage stagnancy and growth in poverty erode families and keeps financial stability out of reach for too many. In order for us to maintain a durable and dynamic economy, New York must be more business-friendly and less costly.

And for the nearly $3 billion in projects that are in the planning and development stages throughout the County to move forward, we must reduce the amount of time it takes to get projects from application to approval.  Time is money – tax money spent, new assessed valuation lost and private investment that can easily go somewhere else.

Every community must have a defined vision for preservation and growth.  Each must clearly articulate expectations for developers and businesses.  And all must streamline their reviews, provide appropriate oversight and eliminate redundancies and confrontation.

As we do this, Dutchess County will continue partnering with communities to make good use of those planning and development tools.  Our work together is ongoing and includes all regions within the county:

We welcome Hudson Valley Lighting’s new headquarters to the Airport Industrial Park, demonstrating how our future water connection to the airport is already spurring new investment – our thanks to Wappinger town leaders and Legislator Joe Incoronato. Efforts by Mayor Matt Alexander and village leaders are transforming the Wappingers Falls business district.  Our exclusive program with the Pace Land Use Law Center has been helping us conduct a market analysis for the area around the Routes 9D and Interstate 84 interchange and will suggest strategies to attract development opportunities.  By activating this important corridor, we can connect a sports dome in East Fishkill to hotel development underway in Fishkill, Main Street revitalization in the Village of Fishkill with Dutchess Stadium and that shining city on the Hudson – Beacon, NY.  Supervisor Bob Lacolla, Legislator Jim Miccio and Mayor Randy Casale have shown how partnership builds success.

Supervisor Alan Bell, Legislators Dale Borchert and Donna Bolner have been leading efforts to bring about the LaGrange town center, while Supervisor Barbara Zulauf, with town officials and Legislator Marc Coviello, are initiating a new development plan for the Town of Beekman, assisted by our Pace program this year.

Supervisor Dave Kelly, Mayor Rob Liffland and Pawling business leaders are seeing our Route 22 Corridor plan to fruition, with the Castagna Commerce Park moving forward. Town of Dover leaders are helping progress come to the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center and the Town of Amenia will see Silo Ridge built soon.  Gregg Pulver and our new Agricultural Advisory Committee are implementing our farm plan, and we are advocating for state and federal funding to complete the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.  From Millerton to Wingdale, Wassaic to Pawling, we are working with local leaders to support small business development and grow community centers throughout eastern Dutchess.

Bard College and County Planning are working with Village Mayors Ed Blundell and Joel Griffith, new Supervisor Robert McKeon and Legislator Micki Strawinski to develop a Route 9G Corridor Plan to address pedestrian safety along this northern Dutchess gateway. We continue to support efforts to maintain the vibrant village centers of Red Hook and Rhinebeck, assist Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia and Mayor Heath Tortarella improve infrastructure and expand park space.  And, with Milan, Clinton, Pleasant Valley and Scenic Hudson, we continue our opposition to intrusive power lines that threaten farmlands and our scenic landscapes.  With Supervisor Brian Coons, we created the Pine Plains Center Revitalization Plan; and in Hyde Park, we are doing all we can to assist in building on its rich history, creating connections to emerging business centers and making gateway improvements along Route 9G.  Development at the Culinary Institute of America and the realization of the Bellefield project remain priorities for our team.

And to help Hyde Park leverage public and private dollars to develop critical wastewater enhancements, tonight we are proud to announce our first Partnership for Manageable Growth infrastructure grant of $500,000 to enhance the Hyde Park commercial corridor.    We are grateful to Supervisor Aileen Rohr and new Legislators Hannah Black and Will Truitt.

Our largest municipality, the Town of Poughkeepsie has provided the dynamic leadership needed to move many exciting projects.  Supervisor Todd Tancredi and local business leaders are working with us to complete the Arlington Business District Pedestrian Plan.  Marist College, thanks to Dr. Dennis Murray’s vision and leadership, has emerged as among the most beautiful campuses in the world. IBM Poughkeepsie is home to the world’s most advanced computer system and is the global capital for mainframe technology.  The town’s professional team moved Fox Run at Fulton toward completion and is now shepherding Hudson Heritage at the former Hudson River Psychatric Center through the review process.  These provide new commercial and residential development, open space and opportunities to connect to the Walkway over the Hudson, Marist College, Quiet Cove Riverfront Park and even College Hill to the Fallkill Creek and Hudson River.

In every case, despite the challenge of doing business in New York, growth and progress have come because private investors saw the potential and local officials provided the leadership.  With that said, the fate of Dutchess County to successfully emerge from this great recession, and the future of all our communities depends on the rebirth of the City of Poughkeepsie.  Nowhere in our county is the challenge greater – and when Poughkeepsie rises again so will the future and fortune of our county and all who call it home.

Leadership and confidence are essential.

With over $700 million in pending development projects, 500 proposed market rate housing units, with One Dutchess Avenue, Queen City Lofts, and Joe Bonura’s new Water Club project inching forward; with the former underwear factory seeing new life and gardens growing inside old factory space; with a civic center and historic Opera House, new housing planned, and Vassar Medical Center ready to transform healthcare; with Rossi’s and Artist Palette, Mill House, Schatzie’s and Blue Collar Brewery; with the Poughkeepsie Journal Building, homes restored on Hamilton and churches invested in the community; with names like Baxter, Page, Redl and Tinkelman; with all the right plans for Middle, Upper and Lower Main; with tireless businesses in Mt. Carmel Place, a Chamber of Commerce, Poughkeepsie Alliance and vibrant arts community; with a direct and constant connection to New York City and Walkway stoically standing astride the shores of a majestic river;  with a rich history, dedicated employees and resilient people – and, yes, with a new mayor and devoted city council, the buzz is back.

Poughkeepsie has all the right ingredients and it has the right leadership at the right time to bring about a revitalization revolution.  We cannot allow this opportunity to pass nor allow ourselves to become prisoners to the status quo.

Mayor Rolison, Chairman Petsas, City Councilmembers, residents of Poughkeepsie, this county is your partner.  We have already dedicated significant resources to assist in your government transition and are glad to welcome Paul Hesse as Development Coordinator.  He and our planning and development team are ready to expand on successes and help move projects and plans forward.  This year, we launched dedicated bus routes connecting college campuses with main street businesses, the train station and river.  We are committed to helping you weave together development plans so all neighborhoods benefit. We have made a bold commitment to the youth of the city and last year, dedicated law enforcement resources and training assistance to address issues of public safety and support your dedicated police officers.

As we begin this year, knowing how important the north side of Poughkeepsie is we will plan with you and the Dyson Foundation to connect the Dutchess Rail Trail to College Hill Park and the Fallkill Creek.  And we will partner with you to implement the Market Street traffic and pedestrian plan while bringing together stakeholders to revitalize this shared corridor.  In the coming weeks, together we will facilitate the next steps of the Waterfront Redevelopment Strategy to move forward with transit and pedestrian oriented development at the train station to act as a catalyst for revitalizing this magnificent riverfront – welcoming young professionals, families and seniors to new housing, shops and park space.

Dutchess County and the City of Poughkeepsie have a relationship unlike any other in New York, and we have every reason to see great success. If we are relentless in our efforts and confident in our cause we can bring about a revitalization revolution that returns the Queen City to her place of prominence.

Video clip of John F. Kennedy speaking: “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Many have debated the meaning of that memorable statement.  It was, however, an undeniably inspirational call to service.  Whether Republican or Democrat, whether John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan, I think we can agree that our future as a community of people is defined by looking out toward the horizon, acting boldy and working together.

We seek, together, to address the challenges and solve the problems facing our government, our community and our residents.  With conservative fiscal management and prudent use of your tax dollars we have strengthened our fiscal condition and produced four budgets under the tax cap and two consecutive years of tax cuts.  Through partnership and collaboration, we have consolidated government – making it smaller, smarter and more effective. And by listening to those we serve and molding consensus, we created a government that is more open, more engaged and more transparent – one that strives to be as great as the people it serves.

When I left the State Assembly to return to county service, I joked that the best part of going to Albany was coming home again.  The truth is, no matter where I travel in and around this county, the best part is always the ride home again.  Yes, I return to a family I love. But along the many miles travelled and the countless people I serve with and work for I see their struggle, I feel their dedication and I hear the love they have for the place they call home.  Throughout the grass fields, in the bustle of traffic coming to and from work, on a tiny sailboat in the mighty river, throughout this great county and valley of ours – I see our potential and feel the hope.  And though I know the state of our county is strong, I know we can make it healthier, safer and stronger together.

May God bless you, and may He continue to bless Dutchess County and the United States of America.

 


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