Latimer Punts on Westchester Economy
October 16th, 2020 • 2 minute read
Breaking story by the Journal News: A former aide to Republican Rob Astorino is looking to unseat Westchester County Executive George…
Breaking story by the Journal News:
A former aide to Republican Rob Astorino is looking to unseat Westchester County Executive George Latimer, the Democrat who knocked Astorino out of office.
Dan Branda, a Somers resident, will kick off his campaign in the coming days to get the GOP nomination to run against Latimer in the 2021 election.
Branda, 40, said he plans to stick out the campaign through a Republican primary if other candidates emerge. The eventual nominee will face a more than 2-to-1 voter disadvantage in the county.
“I wouldn’t be running if I thought this was a 100% losing campaign,” Branda told The Journal News/lohud on Wednesday. “Clearly a Republican candidate in Westchester is going to have a very inclusive message.”
Branda said he decided to confirm his candidacy after reports of a looming deficit for the county government brought on by a massive drop in sales tax income. Most of Westchester saw a 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax last August, but the county is falling well short of its projections due to the coronavirus shutdown.
The county increased its spending in this year's budget, including raises for non-union management and lawmakers based on the expected influx of extra money from the sales tax increase. The county is now planning to offer buyouts to employees to reduce its workforce to combat its deficit.
Branda said Latimer spent money he never had.
"While COVID-19 is a convenient scapegoat for the magnitude and suddenness of today's budget shortfall, George Latimer put Westchester on this path two years ago," he said. "Rather than wait for this year's sales tax increase to be in the bank, Latimer splurged with big raises for his staff and hundreds of needless new government jobs."
Branda grew up in Dutchess County and went to college at Northeastern and received a graduate English degree from Iona College. He spent four years working for former state Assemblyman and state Sen. Greg Ball, then spent five years in the Astorino administration.
He worked as a policy director for Reclaim New York, a watchdog group started by Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire Robert Mercer.
Today, Branda is starting up a web development and digital marketing agency called Branding Company. It recently worked on a website for Astorino, who is running for a New York State Senate seat.
Astorino served as county executive from 2010-17 before he was replaced by Latimer.
Rich Orsillo, a spokesman for Latimer, said elections are a marker of a free and open society.
"We welcome this entry into the race and look forward to engaging the public on George Latimer’s record of cutting taxes, expanding services and working toward a more equitable Westchester," he said in an email. "In the meantime, the County Executive is laser focused on continuing his work with all local governments on keeping residents safe while reopening the economy in the wake of a global pandemic.”