WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Despite facing harsh criticism from high-ranking Westchester Democrats regarding his whereabouts since being re-elected, County Executive Rob Astorino has stood resolute, and appears poised to announce a gubernatorial run next week.
Legislator Ken Jenkins (D-16), Peter Harckham (D-2) and County Clerk Tim Idoni launched whereisrob.com last week, questioning how Astorino has spent his time in office since being re-elected in November, claiming his attention has been divided between the county and his expected run against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
According to the website, Astorino spent 14 of his first 67 business days out of the county – including three out of state trips – since being re-elected. It is believed that he has been hot on the campaign trail, securing donations rubbing elbows with influential members of the GOP.
“It appears as if Rob Astorino has forgotten that his first responsibility is to the people of Westchester,” Harckham said. “Instead of taking care of business in the county, he has been traveling to fundraisers and meeting with political groups around the state and country.”
The County Executive recently launched his own website and fundraising campaign, “Rob Astorino for Governor,” which has been critical of Cuomo and his time in the governor’s office. Astorino bristled at the criticism being levied his way, noting that Jenkins and Harckham have been ousted from leadership positions in the past.
“I’m here today, and doing everything I need to do to run this county,” he said while announcing his jobs initiative in White Plains Monday. “It’s pretty ironic that two Democrats on the county board who were thrown out by their own party in their leadership roles are the ones being the instigators. It’s silly.”
Astorino added that even though his Democratic detractors have dubbed him an absentee county executive, he is constantly in contact with the county, even when he is traveling.
“I’m in the office. And even when I’m not in the county, or I’m on vacation, I stay in touch with the deputy county executive, the chief of staff, our commissioners and make the decisions that need to be made,” he said.
Jenkins said that Astorino needs to be more present, noting that taxpayers elected he, not members of his staff, to office.
“People didn’t elect (chief of staff) George Oros and (Deputy County Executive) Kevin Plunkett to run the county,” he said.
With the imminent announcement of his gubernatorial run, Democrats are claiming that Astorino, who “asked (taxpayers) for another four years, to continue down our path,” isn’t fulfilling campaign promises he made prior to being elected for a second term.
“There are serious challenges here in Westchester that he promised the taxpayers he would be here to engage,” Harckham said. “For the first two months, he has not earned his salary and owes taxpayers an explanation.”