Former Gov. George Pataki, who served as Peekskill mayor before winning office in Albany, endorsed Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino for reelection Friday.
The campaign used the event to highlight Astorino’s environmental record, including advocating for mass transit to play a bigger role in the new Tappan Zee bridge.
“From preserving open space to protecting the watershed and our rivers, Rob Astorino has amassed an environmental record of accomplishment and distinction during his four years in office,” Pataki said, according to a statement from the campaign. “When you combine his record with his vision for Westchester County as a regional center for mass-transit and sustainable economic growth, I am confident that Rob Astorino is the right leader with the right ideas, and I’m proud to endorse him for reelection.”
The campaign of Astorino’s Democratic opponent, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, jumped on the characterization of Astorino’s record. Barry Caro, the Bramson campaign spokesman, said Pataki praised Astorino for efforts to clean up Long Island Sound by improving wastewater treatment but the Astorino campaign has criticized the program as the result of the actions of his predecessor and resulting in a large sewer tax increase.
“Rob can’t have it both ways,” Caro said. “He can’t accept credit for a project he didn’t support and actively criticized. Trying to do so only highlights just how thin his environmental record actually is. Westchester does need real environmental leadership on safe drinking water, on climate change, and on transit planning, and Rob Astorino hasn’t provided that leadership.”
Here’s the list of environmental accomplishments provided by the Astorino campaign:
• $25 million dollars in capital improvements for Parks Department in last two budget years to fund trail and park infrastructure projects, and site and historic building restoration.
• Playland Park transformation into a sustainable, open public space.
• New public / private partnership with Jay Heritage Center (Rye).
RIVERS & WATERWAYS
• Launched “River Rescue” – public-private partnership to clean-up and maintain the Bronx River.
• $1 million restoration of the Bronx River Wetlands to revitalize the oldest section of wetlands in lower Westchester.
• Hudson River-Walk – $8.5 million for City of Yonkers, and partnership with New York State to ensure the new Tappan Zee Bridge shared-use path connects with the River-Walk along Hudson.
• New program for marinas to recycle plastic, including shrink wrapping used for boat weatherization.
• $15 million in new capital spending for flood and storm water management.
• $9 million to address chronic flooding along the Bronx River and Sound Shore.
• New Storm Water Management Program and Storm Water Advisory Board to work on long-term solutions to flooding.
• Teatown Reservation (Yorktown) – preserve 59 acres of pristine woodlands known as “The Croft” to unite 2,000 acres of open space within Croton Watershed.
• Signed bi-partisan legislation to prohibit hyrdofracking waste water from entering Westchester County.
• Affordable Energy-Efficient Homes – programs for low-income seniors to make their homes energy efficient
• Solar energy tax exemptions for homeowners who retrofit homes with solar panels.
• Initiative to determine viable locations to implement geothermal and solar power at county facilities.
• Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECB) that provide private sector access to $7 million in tax-free financing for environmental retrofitting of buildings.
SMART BUSINESS GROWTH
• The Westchester Green Business Challenge encourages Westchester businesses to improve the “greenness” of their operations by employing cost-effective, sustainable practices that will allow them to flourish. County environmental expertise is made available to businesses taking the challenge.
• Series of vulnerability studies aimed at identifying risks posed by climate change, especially rising sea levels here along the Hudson and on the Long Island Sound.
MASS TRANSIT & AIR QUALITY
• Astorino’s most significant environmental accomplishment is the inclusion of significant mass transit in the new Tappan-Zee Bridge.
• Plans were rapidly moving forward for a new bridge without a mass transit component until Rob Astorino stepped-in to demand a Bus Rapid Transit System be included in any plans for a new bridge.
• Westchester’s first Food Rescue Program that takes unused, surplus food from restaurants and food stores and gives it to the homeless and hungry.