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Questions with the Candidates: Catherine Borgia

OSSINING, N.Y. – The Daily Cortlandt sat down with Town of Ossining Supervisor, and candidate for Westchester County Board of Legislators District 9, Democrat Catherine Borgia . Borgia was a trustee for the Village of Ossining, and the chief of staff for State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, and is a mother of two. Borgia is running against Republican Susan Konig to replace retiring county legislator Bill Burton. District 9 covers parts of Peekskill, Ossining, Croton, Cortlandt and Briarcliff.

The Daily Cortlandt: What do you think the biggest problem facing Westchester residents today?

Borgia: Well, I think basically the biggest problem facing every level of government and every household today is limited resources, and what is the proper allocation of limited resources. So, in Westchester we’re really fortunate that we have a lot of advantages, but we’re the same as many areas, we don’t have the amount of resources that we once had. So it’s very important for us to allocate properly, to make sure that we are spending our money wisely, to set the groundwork for future success.

In fact, I had an over eight percent tax decrease in my area last year. How we did that was finding a way to operate our police services a little differently, finding a way to work with the county, to save us money without costing the county any additional money.

We have a contract for services with Westchester County, our police officers were all hired by Westchester County, they had some vacancies in their force. That was really a win-win because we wanted to make sure the officers who had served in Ossining had a clear career path, for wherever they went next.

What has being Ossining Town Supervisor and watching tax revenue decline taught you about running government?

It’s an interesting thing, I never thought I would say this in 2011, but I’m happy that Ossining faced the economic crisis a little bit earlier than other municipalities in Westchester. In August of 2009, the town had passed, basically an unsustainable budget. The board knew it was an unsustainable budget, they knew there was going to have to be some cuts made. New York State law requires that towns have their budget by December 20, so I took office knowing that there was a challenge ahead.

It was the opportunity of a crisis to really work collaboratively with the managers in the Town of Ossining. And there were some hard choices made, it happened with everyone pitching in.

Give me an example of a hard choice you made as Ossining Town Supervisor.

We did have a lay off, and we had some attrition staffing, that was a very hard choice, the hardest obviously. Even in terms of how we cut our expenses. We had to cut our Saturday tax collection for example.

So we had to reduce our level of service to a certain extent. We had to ask our managers to cut their operating budgets, so to do what they needed to do with less money.

That involved simple things, like delaying the purchase of needed equipment, making things last longer, even things like making double sided copies. All sorts of expense control things that became very critical. And it also required managers to look at their budget as a kind of whole of the Town of Ossining operations.

Some people have suggested that county government may not be a necessity, what is your opinion about eliminating county government?

County is a conduit for much of the state and federal resources that come into the counties; this is New York State wide. So, who would do that? Is that something you would push down to the local, municipal level? In which case, you would have a huge growth of municipal.

If you have to provide, for example, social services, or if everyone had to do their own recycling for example. I don’t think it could be handled as efficiently as it could at a higher level of government that can use economies of scale and regionality of planning.

What’s your position on the relicensing of Indian Point?

I think that Indian Point provides a great deal of electricity to the metropolitan area, so I believe that we need to carefully think about how that could be phased out.

But you do think we should phase it out?

I don’t think a nuclear plant would be built here, at this present time. It’s an old facility, and we do need to think about the future without Indian Point.

What kind of time frame do you mean by, “future”?

It’s a good question, and honestly I don’t really have the concrete answer to that, because I think more needs to happen. This is an advocacy thing that the county should desperately be working on, and we have a good partner in the governor since he’s a Westchester County resident and has called for the closing of Indian Point, for the creation of alternate sources of energy, and I think the sooner the better with respect to that.

But, I think you really have to have a plan, and that’s something I would advocate for as a county legislator, in pulling in more resources to create other energy, and other energy sources. Alternate energy or even conventional energy.

What do you think of your opponent?

I’ve read her books, they are amusing. I think I have more government experience, I have a proven record for success, I have lowered taxes, and I think I’m a stronger candidate for the position.

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