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Astorino and Latimer in Dead Heat in County Executive Race

LatimerAstorinoToday, all eyes are on the race between incumbent Republican County Executive Rob Astorino and Democratic challenger George Latimer. According to polls, the race is in a dead heat. Though Democrats outnumber Republicans 2:1 in Westchester, Astorino has held the top job in the county for the past seven years.

Here's an outline of the key issues in the campaign and why Latimer's supporters are urging you to vote for him today. See the candidates views on taxes, guns, women's rights and the fate of the Westchester County Airport below and also note a controversial contribution to the Astorino campaign.

Rob Astorino recently accepted a $1 million campaign contribution from alt-right financier and Breitbart supporter Robert Mercer to enhance his smear tactics against George Latimer. He is hoping his ability to outspend will ensure his re-election.

Taxes:
As state senator, George Latimer voted to give New Yorkers the lowest middle class income tax rates since 1953. Latimer has pledged to fight tooth and nail against Trump's devastating tax plan, which slams Westchester residents by not allowing the deduction of state and local taxes from income.

Rob Astorino broke his election promise to cut Westchester taxes by 20%. Although he claims not to have raised taxes, all you have to do is look at the county and the sewer and refuse portion of your tax bill over the last eight years to see that this is a lie. Astorino has said nothing about defending us from Trump's vindictive tax hike.

Guns:
Astorino called for the repeal of the SAFE Act, which prevents criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying a gun by requiring universal background checks and mandates life in prison for anyone who murders a first responder.

Astorino brought gun shows to the County Center and vetoed legislation that would have banned gun shows on county-owned property. Astorino is a darling of the NRA and holds an "A" rating from them. According to the NRA, Astorino opposes bans on semi-automatic weapons and restrictions on gun magazines.

Latimer has committed to cease hosting gun shows on county property.

Fiscal Management:
Under Astorino's stewardship, the fiscal health of Westchester has plummeted to 53rd out of 57 New York counties, according to the state comptroller. Westchester's credit rating has also been downgraded for the first time in 30 years, raising the cost of borrowing.

Astorino spent 8 years fighting with HUD over requirements to build affordable housing, costing the county $35 million in lost federal aid.

As state senator, Latimer supported increasing the minimum wage, but he's also aware that we need to do more to help small businesses impacted by the wage increase. He pledges to do more for women and minority owned businesses. Latimer is endorsed by the New York AFL-CIO, the Transport Workers Union, firefighter and teachers unions, and many others.

Women's Rights:
George Latimer is endorsed by major women's organizations: Hudson Valley Planned Parenthood, National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, and NOW-Westchester. Latimer is a champion for the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act. He supports pay equity, safe access to healthcare clinics, comprehensive sexual education, and paid family leave.

Astorino stands with Donald Trump, a man who brags about sexual assault, calls women who challenge him "nasty," and opposes funding for women's reproductive health care. Astorino even defended Trump's misogynistic Tweets about a female reporter's bleeding.

When Astorino ran for governor, he declared that "everything [was] on the table" including cutting Medicaid funding of abortion. Astorino vetoed women's safe access to reproductive health care here in Westchester and cut comprehensive teen sex ed programs. Instead of keeping women safe and informed, he honored abstinence-only and fake pregnancy center advocates, using the County building to do so.

According to Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, "At a time when our fundamental rights are under attack at the federal level, Westchester needs and deserves a County Executive that won't play political games with our access to reproductive healthcare."

Environment:
Latimer is endorsed by the Hudson chapter of the Sierra Club and has gained top marks from the Environmental Advocates of NY and the NY League of Conservation Voters for his voting record. A few of his achievements: Latimer successfully fought to secure $300 million for the protection of natural resources through the Environmental Protection Fund, authored legislation to create a $1.5 billion solar incentive program, supported a hydro-fracking ban, and passed legislation requiring schools to test for lead contamination. He has pledged to fight climate change by re-establishing the county Global Warming Task Force.

Under Astorino's watch, Westchester was sued by the federal government for failure to comply with water safety standards since 2012. Astorino caused taxpayers to pay $12 million to settle the lawsuit, including a record $1.1 million fine.

Under Astorino's watch, Westchester County is being sued by Save the Sound for allowing untreated sewage to leak into the Long Island Sound, violating the Clean Water Act and risking public health and harming the environment.

To plug a $15 million budget deficit he created, Astorino has been aggressively pushing for a deal to privatize and expand the county airport, which could have devastating environmental impacts.

After receiving $43,000 in campaign contributions from Spectra Energy and its subcontractors, Astorino bypassed county review processes to grant the company a license to build a pipeline carrying fracked gas through Blue Mountain Preserve, a public park. Today, our Blue Mountain county park stands denuded of trees and vegetation, drains clogged and ditches filled with standing water.

Campaign Funding:
Despite Astorino's $4 million campaign war chest from developers and the NRA, he accepted another $1 million donation from Robert Mercer. Mercer's dark money funds the Steve Bannon Breitbart News and alt-right candidates nationwide. With this funding Astorino has been flooding TV, airwaves and people's mailboxes.

George Latimer's campaign is funded by small grassroots contributions. With less than a tenth of Astorino's funding, he relied on volunteers like you and me to tell the truth.

Community Programs:
Astorino cut all funding to: 1) neighborhood health centers which provide Title X services; 2) food pantries; 3) after-school programs; 4) child abuse prevention and mental health programs. He slashed funds to the eviction prevention foreclosure fund and the Invest in Kids and Youth Bureau. He limited access to County Government help in domestic violence situations.

Latimer believes in building our communities--not bankrupting them. He co-sponsored the DREAM act, voted for numerous affordable housing projects as state senator, supported PLAs for public work projects, voted to upgrade sewers and provide adequate funding for public transportation, and voted to create the Human Rights Commission in Westchester

Albany Politicians:
Rob Astorino is playing on people's frustrations with state politics by labeling Latimer an "Albany" politician. But Latimer has made the choice to leave Albany, represent us here in Westchester as county executive, and clean up the budgetary mess left by Astorino. Astorino is the one who is planning to become an Albany politician by running for governor next year.

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