The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York


November 4, 2011

Vote for Peter Harckham in District 2

In the midst of this week’s trick-or-no-treat storm, it became easy to forget that there was an election coming around next Tuesday. There is, and it’s an important one.

Board of Legislators Democratic incumbent Peter Harckham is facing a challenge from Republican Peter Michaelis, the second time these men have battled at the polls. Mr. Harckham, a Katonah resident, has occupied the District 2 Assembly seat since 2008, and in that time has risen to the role of majority leader, representing the Democratic supermajority in White Plains. Mr. Michaelis, a Katonah resident and member of numerous town boards and committees, affiliates himself with County Executive Rob Astorino and his policies.

Mr. Michaelis and Mr. Harckham are in many ways similar. They are both well-liked residents with a strong history of community volunteerism and leadership, passionately committed to a strong environment, positive quality of life, and cost efficiencies in government. There is no question that either candidate would be a vocal proponent for the needs of northern Westchester residents — needs that often get swallowed in the monumental and labyrinthine maw of “south of I-287.”

In his four years in office, Mr. Harckham brought our district to the fore of Westchester’s decision-making process in his role as majority leader. He came to White Plains tethered to the legacy of former County Executive Andrew Spano, who is generally blamed for submerging the county in a potentially disastrous lawsuit for the county and its taxpayers. The suit accused the county of failing to market affordable housing units to minorities, and depending on whom you listen to, could have cost the county from $150 million to $500 million in penalties and additional costs.

Mr. Harckham also stepped in to the county government with the highest overall taxes in the country — state, federal, local and county — and a tax-cutting mood among the populace that bordered on rage.

Despite these handicaps, we believe Mr. Harckham is making the right decisions for northern Westchester. The candidates have intensely debated budget cuts, and which budget — the county board’s or the county executive’s — delivers greater economies. Mr. Harckham said two weeks ago in The Record-Review offices that the county ended 2010 with a $67 million surplus. “We cut spending by $30 million, we cut taxes by 2.2 percent, which was more than twice the tax relief proposed by County Executive Astorino,” Mr. Harckham said. “We reduced the size of the county workforce by nearly 11 percent.”

Mr. Michaelis countered that the board blocked many additional cost-cutting measures by Mr. Astorino, overriding 247 of Mr. Astorino’s 249 vetoes.

The question is, what were those vetoes? Mr. Harckham rightly defends the legislators’ decision to maintain the services threatened by Mr. Astorino’s cuts: mental health services to the neediest, the county’s forensics lab, public safety expenses and child care costs for the poor. Mr. Harckham summed it up this way: “The difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch: The county executive sees it as a spreadsheet.”

Mr. Michaelis said he sees finances in much the same light as Mr. Astorino, urging “smaller, smarter government.” Finding efficiencies by cutting mental health services for the neediest, cutting county forensics labs, public safety or emergency services doesn’t make sense, at least not until mandates passed down from the state can be dealt with, as well as the dozens of other health, welfare, safety and environmental mandates shuffled from one legislative branch to another. Mr. Michaelis even suggested cutting Westchester’s human rights commission, which provides an important safety valve for those discriminated against.

This seems like a willy-nilly approach, when what is really needed are cuts to state mandates that shift costs from the state to the county, including Medicare costs, which are three times higher than other states, environmental mandates, and health and human services costs.

The Westchester County Housing Settlement plan is moving forward. Yes, there remain questions, such as the potential for outside litigation from the Anti-Discrimination Center, which initially brought the case, and memos from some representatives of the federal’s government’s Housing and Urban Development agency, who have indicated possible changes mid-game. But the implementation team in Westchester — including the monitor, James Johnson, and both Mr. Astorino and Mr. Harckham — agree that for now, living up to the terms of the agreement as it has been formally instituted is the best way to proceed. Mr. Michaelis’s proposal to disregard the settlement at this time is reckless and could hold the county liable to far greater costs in the future.

Can Mr. Harckham stand up to union pressure when it comes time to negotiate tough contracts and benefits deals during the next budget session? Can he continue to find cost efficiencies and at the same time provide county services for all residents? Can he and Mr. Astorino come to an accord on a more unified approach to the housing settlement in the future? Can he stand up to increased government mandates piled on at every level?

His record to date inspires confidence. We urge a vote for Mr. Harckham on Tuesday.

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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York



Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Perks – 197 Katonah Avenue    

  4. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  6. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

  2. Connie’s at Northern Westchester Hospital
    400 E. Main Street    

South Salem/Vista

  1. JNR Pharmacy – 222 Oakridge Commons;
    Route 123   

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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