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George Latimer defeats Rob Astorino in heated race for Westchester County Executive

By Max Rosenblum, Assistant Politics Editor

Democrat George Latimer emerged victorious this past Tuesday, Nov. 7, after beating out two-term incumbent Republican Rob Astorino in this year’s race for Westchester County Executive.

Although local pollsters showed Latimer up just three points in late October, Westchester’s democratic candidate fared much better in the actual election, winning 57% of the vote. The win is of great significance for Westchester democrats, who, despite outnumbering Republicans 2 to 1, have conceded the position to a Republican for the past two terms.

This specific race was somewhat unusual, with many Westchersterites labeling it as “dirty.” Both candidates did not fail to ignore allegations of financial malfeasance cast on their competitor, instead bringing them up repeatedly throughout the race. Executive-elect George Latimer’s wife has $46,000 in unpaid property taxes dating back to 2012 on a Rye home separate from their own. Latimer explained that the house originally owned by his late mother-in-law is currently part of estate negotiations, and has promised that the taxes will be paid off once the estate deal is finalized. He was also accused of having $2,000 in unpaid parking tickets, along with driving an unregistered car.

Alternatively, at the heart of the Astorino probe, Manhattan businessman Jona Rechnitz recently testified that he and his friend allegedly bought influence with Astorino through the purchase of a Rolex brand watch.

While the Latimer and Astorino scandals garnered much of the local media attention throughout the race, the candidates were still able to express their views on the issues most pertinent to Westchester voters.

Latimer, who previously served in the New York State Senate and as a Rye City Councilman, ran on the platform of altering the status quo and changing Westchester for the better. He has vowed to disallow gun shows from taking place on county property, opposes the privatization of the Westchester County Airport, and does not support the lawsuit Astorino filed against Governor Cuomo surrounding the shutdown of the Indian Point power plant.

Astorino, running for his third term as County Executive, ran on the campaign promise of continuing to keep the property tax levy steady as he claims he has done for the past eight years. He has also taken steps to finalize a privatization deal of the Westchester County Airport, has vetoed bills that would prevent gun shows from taking place on county property, and has displayed his record of prioritizing economic growth through his creation of 44,000 jobs in the county throughout his past two terms.

Critics of Astorino, including Latimer, have used rhetoric likening the current executive to President Trump. Billionaire Robert Mercer, also a supporter of the President and controversial Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon, donated 1 million dollars to a super PAC backing Astorino. This sparked substantial outrage from Democrat and other Latimer supporters in the latter half of the campaign.

Executive-elect George Latimer will serve a 4 year term until 2022, and is optimistic for the coming years as he expressed in his victory speech: “We are going to run this county well, we’re going to run it on progressive values, we’re going to keep your taxes in line…but we’re [also] going to be about jobs!” Latimer will assume office on January 1st, 2018.

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George Latimer defeats Rob Astorino in heated race for Westchester County Executive