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Political Leadership Series Meets With New Members of County’s State Delegation

Clockwise, from left, Fernandez, Levenberg, Shimsky and Slater

The BCW welcomed the new members of Westchester County’s state legislative delegation to its Political Leadership Series last week.

The four new members of the county’s legislative delegation are Sen. Nathalia Fernandez; Assembly Member Dana Levenberg; Assembly Member Mary Jane Shimsky; and Assembly Member Matt Slater.

The BCW’s Executive Vice President and COO John Ravitz moderated the one-hour webinar, whose discussion ranged from the legislators’ overall commitment to passing a housing program in the state budget to improving the county’s infrastructure and acknowledging the business community’s concerns.

“We are very excited at the Business Council of Westchester to have a robust advocacy program as the county’s largest business membership organization that really does focus on economic development,” said Ravitz.

Fernandez, whose predominantly Bronx-based district includes the Pelhams and New Rochelle, said that the Assembly removed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to override local zoning from her New York Housing Compact.

“We know that there’s a housing crisis in this state. There’s a lot of ideas to help alleviate it, but we really have to be cautious about the details,” said Fernandez. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re not taking complete power away from our communities.”

Levenberg said that the county needs to build much more housing than what has been built in recent years, and she noted that the housing compact — which she supports—permits flexibility.

“We really need to work with our communities to make sure that it is realistic and that it is doable. I’m committed to making sure that we do that from all sides,” said Levenberg.

Shimsky reminded attendees that during her service with the Westchester County Board of Legislators, her signature issue was infrastructure, a focus that will continue in Albany.

“When we’re trying to compete with other states and the rest of the world, we really do need to have a transportation system that works, power grids that work. We need to have healthy drinking water and wastewater systems. We need to be ready to be resilient to face the consequences of climate change, which are already hitting us,” said Shimsky.

Slater said his first job out of college was in the state Assembly and he praised his colleagues for rejecting the governor’s proposal to increase the MTA payroll tax.

“We all know, especially from the business community, what a killer that is. A tax on jobs doesn’t create a job. And I think it’s important that we finally understand that,” said Slater, adding that his colleagues must be mindful of any proposals that diminish the affordability of living in New York.

Click here to watch an archived version of the webinar.

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