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Questions with the Candidates: Susan Konig

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The Daily Cortlandt sat down with one of District 9’s candidates for Westchester County Board of Legislators, Republican Susan Konig . Konig is a former trustee in the Village of Croton, a mother of four, and a columnist for the National Review and Catholic Digest, and has published two books of her columns on family life. She unsuccessfully ran against retiring county legislator, Democrat Bill Burton in 2009. Konig is running against Town of Ossining Supervisor, Democrat Catherine Borgia . District 9 covers parts of Croton, Cortlandt, Ossining, Peekskill and Briarcliff.

The Daily Cortlandt: Westchester County has the highest taxes in the country, how would you address that?

Konig: It’s still a budget, my household budget is this, Croton is $16 million, the county budget is $1.8 [billion], you can still cut a budget. It’s still different lines asking for different amounts of money. So I think the county just needs to cut the spending, and then taxes will go down.

During the time we were making all these cuts in Croton, you know, I think we hired a police officer or two, we negotiated with the unions for whatever mandated contracts were, we fixed the parking lot, we fixed some water mains in Harmon that had brown water.

So people say, ‘Well, if you cut spending your services go down the tubes,’ but they didn’t. And there’s excess, I mean maybe there somewhere is a budget that doesn’t has excess in it, but I haven’t found it yet.

Tell me some of the programs you would address to start cutting the budget .

One is Playland. Big controversy, what’s going to happen to Playland? Playland should not be run by 17 legislators sitting in White Plains. They know nothing about the entertainment industry, it’s bleeding money every year, and there are amusement parks and entertainment complexes that turn a profit.

Westchester County has some of the highest average paid workers in New York State, what are your thoughts on this?

There’s just something also reported that public sector jobs are much more high paying than private sector jobs, and they keep going up. There’s something wrong there, if a job in the private sector makes one amount, and a job in the public sector makes more than that. There’s some inequity, or some overstaffing, duplication of jobs. I think that you can find a lot of waste in the county budget, in staffing, salaries, constant raises in a recession.

But some raises are contracted, so we can’t change them now. How would you deal with that?

Yes, but going forward contracts have to take this into account.

When I was in Croton, the village board didn’t negotiate with the unions, it was up to our staff, the village manager, and our union contractor guy, and they would work it out. But you have to come to the table ready to negotiate, and I think we always negotiated pretty fairly.

But as you said, some things are mandated in the contract, but going forward, we talk about health insurance. Like, county legislator is a part time job. You get $50,000 a year, and full benefits. I don’t know if that’s right. I don’t know if you and I should be paying for legislator’s benefits. And if I was elected I don’t know how I would feel about taking that, it doesn’t seem right.

I mean I have questions about the whole layer of county government. Now county government takes care of the parks, the airport, the roads, there’s a lot that they do. But I don’t know how necessary they are. We could still have a parks commissioner, we could still have roads department. But do we need as much government as we have?

Are you saying that the county government is unnecessary?

In my opinion. I’d like to get inside it and take a good look at it, I mean I’m running to reform county government, and if I find it’s unnecessary I might be behind a movement to abolish it.

What would Westchester County residents use as a conduit for state aid, and other back office work if there were no county government?

I mean, I’m not exactly sure. I think the state is there, the municipalities are there, and the county’s in the middle. Is it always a helpful conduit, or does it sometimes get in the way? I mean, I would have to study that.

What is your position on the relicensing of Indian Point?

I feel like, the NRC, has been very careful with Indian Point. I’m kind of a ‘safe, vital, secure’ person. If there’s redundancies for safety there, and if they’re held to the highest standard with safety and operations, then I don’t have a problem with it.

So you have faith in our government agencies?

Yes, but I also have faith in the company, Entergy, to hire competent people in their fields. That they’re not going to run it badly. I mean they have a lot at stake, and I think Indian Point, more than a lot of other places, is under the microscope.

What do you think of your opponent?

I’ve met her a couple times, I think she’s a nice person. We really don’t know each other. I have looked at her record in Ossining, and I see a lot of spending and tax increases. I know she is saying she lowered taxes in the town last year, but if you raise taxes every other year, I think it’s easy to have a year where you lower taxes.

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