As we move toward summer, the warmer weather, our Democratic primary season, and lower numbers in this deadly pandemic, I have been spending a little time thinking about the last year. What a time it has been for all of us here in Mount Vernon, in Westchester, and throughout New York. What comes through for me are two things: the resilience and toughness of our community.
And the vital importance of an empathetic, competent, respectful government.
Last year, Trump and his gang were busily ignoring the tragedy of Covid-19, spreading deadly disinformation, attacking our election system, and costing way too many Americans their lives and their financial futures. Here in New York, we fought back – at the state and county levels, and through cooperation we managed to bring in desperately needed resources to our neighbors. I was part of the team that worked at the Federal level to win vital appropriations for Mount Vernon.
Then I was honored by your vote in November to succeed Lyndon Williams as the County Legislator for the 13th District, which includes most of Mount Vernon – the same day we elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to lead the nation on a better, fairer path. Working with my colleagues in White Plains, I’ve seen firsthand the difference that a competent government can make in the lives of citizens. Working with Chairman Boykin and our friends in the executive branch, led by County Executive George Latimer and Deputy CE Ken Jenkins, we’ve been bringing needed resources to our City.
- Memorial Field – Over 20M invested to complete the long awaited project by late 2021.
- 4th Street Park – $2Million secured in the county capital budget to revitalize and restore this vital south side recreational facility.
- Community Based Orgs/Non-Profit Funding – $800,000 for non-profits in MV, while increasing funding for organizations like The Boys & Girls Club, The Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, Y-COP, The Mount Vernon Public Library, and many others.
- During the unfortunate spring fuel crisis, I worked with my Legislative colleagues, County Executive Latimer, the Mayor and commissioners to secure fuel for Fire trucks, Police vehicles and DPW vehicles.
- Improvement to Shelter Facility – $1.7M secured for the improvement of Vernon Plaza Shelter.
- I support the Governor and State Legislature for implementing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, and will work closely with my colleagues on the Board of Legislators to ensure sales taxes from legalized marijuana products are delivered back to the local community.
These resources matter; a budget process that includes a competent and caring executive, working with committed financial experts, and a unified legislative team can bring major change to our communities. Frankly, that’s exactly the formula we need here in Mount Vernon. Over these last months, I’ve worked closely with Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard to step in quickly when Mount Vernon needs it (thanks, unfortunately, to our problem with the Comptroller’s office). A close working partnership brought us additional vehicles for public safety, and fuel for our police, fire and DPW trucks.
The Republicans will try to tell you that government doesn’t matter, that it should be much smaller, that tax breaks for the wealthy will make the economy better. Meanwhile, real Democrats keep working together for a better future.
It’s an imperfect and sometimes messy process. There’s some horse trading. But this is the real work of legislators, and it’s why Democrats believe in the power of government to improve lives. Serving as your legislator means that my job is not to attack political opponents, sponsor disgraceful robocalls, or come up with fancy slogans. No – it’s about working each and every day to deliver. It’s about cooperating with our allies in Washington, in Albany, and in White Plains. It’s about making sure our phone calls are returned – and that our budget requests are taken seriously. That’s how you get things done.
I will admit that we have a long way to go in Mount Vernon. But President Biden will tell you we have a long way to go in America as well. And you know what? He’s right. We do have many mountains to climb, still. But we are getting there. Hard work, cooperation and a commitment to working together as Democrats will get us there.
Tyrae Woodson-Samuels in the County Legislator for the 13th District, which comprises most of Mount Vernon.