by Ed Day, Rockland County Legislator
On Tues, Rockland County Legislator Ed Day (R-New City/Pomona) announced his intention to run for Rockland County Executive next Fall at a campaign event at the Nyack Seaport. Day, a full time security consultant with a NYC security systems firm, was first elected to the legislature in 2006. He served as minority leader in 2008-2009 and deputy minority leader in 2010. During his law enforcement career, Day was Chief of Detectives in the Baltimore Police Department and Commander of Detectives in the NYPD. Here is an edited version of his remarks on Tues night.
During my 30 years in Rockland, this community provided my family a wonderful place to grow. We have met so many great people who have become lifetime friends. I love this county. This is a county I chose to adopt and raise a family in. It is a county I am proud of. It is home.
There always has been that ‘€œgreat promise’€ handed from one generation to the next – being able to look our children square in the eye and make that same promise our parents made to us – that your living conditions will be better than ours as ours was better than your grandparents.
That ‘€œgreat promise’€ has now been pushed aside here in Rockland. Folks not just speaking of moving; they are actually making plans to do so. Fear in the eyes of many of our seniors as the cost of living overtakes their budgets. A detached government talking about creating so called affordable housing, when the reality is that while our young people may be able to afford the monthly mortgage payment, but the killer is a tax bill that unbelievably often exceeds that amount.
People are angry and frustrated at a government they feel does not hear them. Many conveyed a belief that I could have a positive effect on their lives by seeking the position of county executive. I see that as an honor, and recognize the responsibility for a simple reason ‘€¦ I have served in similar leadership roles in my life.
I have spent a number of months visiting many places across this great county, and taking advantage of the fact that god gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason ‘€¦ I listened to what the folks in many towns, villages and hamlet centers had to say.
Their frustrations are a shared one. For nearly five years now, I have been consistently speaking to the folly that often has become policy when proposed by the administration, only to be adopted by the legislative leadership and majority. I tried to alter the path we were on by getting the state comptroller to do a full audit of county government. This year, and while many in government remained silent, I freely cooperated with the effort of the rba to reveal the path that has brought us to the crisis we face, while laying out a course to fiscal health. I looked at the effort as an ally in my endeavor, and a rallying cry for the community of Rockland that would hopefully result in true change in county government.
Sadly, nothing is changing. This year, another significant tax increase slammed this community. And as I weighed my decision, I must acknowledge one person for sharing words with me that crystallized the matter. A young man who is part of that true 1% of our country, one of those who put their lives on the line to defend our way of life. True American heroes all, and I speak of one of them, my son Christopher. He fought 2 wars for this country, thankfully came home safely, and is trying to make a go of it here in Rockland, with our grandson C.J. in tow.
As I was weighing this, he said simply that he had seen much of what I am and what I have done in my life, and should really seek this because he was confident, based on my life experiences, that I could bring real change to Rockland. He spoke of seeing the belief and trust people place in me, and simply said ‘€œdad, you must do this’€ adding ‘€œwith ability comes responsibility.’€ When I asked him where he got that from, he said simply ‘€œyou told me that years ago’€. He said ‘€œi want to stay here, I love this county, I was born and raised here, I don’t want to be forced away.’€ His dilemma is the same one facing our youth, our seniors, and increasingly the middle class backbone of our county.
Chris was right. In the final analysis, it simply comes down to giving of yourself, having an effect, bringing a positive impact, and conducting yourself in such a way that you can walk away knowing that you did some good things in life. I can say that without equivocation about my career in law enforcement, my time as a part time legislator, and my current work in the private sector.
This truly should be the focus for anyone who is looking to lead this county through the dark times we are experiencing. And that person should have the proven skills to move us forward into the light.
And in speaking to many people across the county, organizations, our business community, unions, citizen groups, law enforcement, our town, village, and state officials, not for profits,
I am heartened by the words they share with me, and am buoyed by the belief and trust they have in me.
This is how I got here tonight, and it is for these reasons, and more that I will detail, I am formally announcing that I will be seeking the nomination of my party for Rockland county executive and with that being successful, I will be offering myself as a candidate to the people of Rockland as their choice to lead our county.
To ask to be honored with that trust, you here this evening and the 300,000 plus people in this county deserve to hear some of the precepts and plans you would see as part of my administration:
- We will immediately implement a complete zero based budget initiative where there will be a presumption of zero dollars in each county departments budget, and a detailed rationale for every penny needed as part of my first budget plan.
- We will formulate an immediate plan of action designed to recreate county government, one that will be supported and implemented by our greatest resource; the people found within our own county workforce, the business community; town and state officials; and interested professionals within the community at large.
All options are included in this initiative, including strategies of tapping into the expertise of a corporate turnaround specialist.
I believe very strongly in ‘€œpartnerships’€ not ‘€œone-upmanships’€. We must take a holistic approach to governance and work together, and I can assure all that one of the first things I will do as county executive is have an outreach with state, town, and village levels of government with the goal of charting out a unified approach to governance.
A recent example of this was where I joined with officials from various levels of government to actually permanently eliminate the tax burden of community college chargebacks as opposed to the typical, political answer of kicking the can down the road and passing them along onto town tax bills. Approaches such as that will be the hallmark of my administration.
- Increasing taxes is not the answer. That is a job killer and a people chaser. The answer lies within increasing wealth and the tax base, and to that end we will chart out an aggressive course of action for economic development. My administration will be front and center of that effort, and will be a primary focus as your county executive.
- Fiscal responsibility and a balanced approach to government will be a core value of my administration. We must recognize that we cannot spend what we do not have, and prioritizing expenditures of the people’s money is a basic responsibility of government. While many services that government must provide are not profit items in the ledger, that does not mean government should abdicate its responsibility to be exacting caretakers of the funds we collect from people to do those good things. We cannot be betrayed by inefficiency, waste, lack of forward thinking, or an attitude that the more we spend, the better everything will magically be.
- Common sense priorities will prevail going forward. I will not countenance having important functions such as services for public safety, public health, our roads, a basic animal care and control function, and services to our returning war heroes and be politicized and compromised. We will fund the basics and solve issues such as these instead of finding reasons not to.
- In my administration, every employee will be expected to effectively deliver needed services to our community, and the people’s priorities will always trump ‘€œsometimes show’€ or ‘€œlittle work’€ patronage jobs.
- We must heed einstein’s words that we cannot do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We must look to create a different model for county government, as it is not working efficiently within the structure of government we operate in. We will create new service models both within county government and through effective consolidations across government boundaries, using partnerships that will enhance services and save money in areas such as law enforcement and highway. Unlike others who talk about consolidation, I have the knowledge, unique experience, and executive law enforcement background to do that. Instead of focusing on which level of government is budgeting the service, the goal will be to reduce the total cost of each and every citizens tax bill.
- It is an unfortunate reality that there are those who will play the social services system. Look, we are a good and helping community, and while those in need will continue to be helped by their neighbor as part of my administration, I will engage in an immediate assessment to ensure that those who look to game the system in any way will not have that opportunity.
- Accountability in government will become the mantra of my administration, and concepts such as customer service and efficiency will become the new normal. I learned long ago that the strength of any organization is found within the dedicated individuals who are part of it, not within the one who leads. These are the people who have many of the solutions, but in order to have an atmosphere where they will bring that forward, you need to provide leadership, organization, accountability, and direction.
- I pledge to you tonight to always be the leader who will stay out in front of our problems, whether they be natural disasters; projected financial difficulties; or anything in between. I am used to be woken up at 2 o’clock in the morning and being told there is an emergency. That does not bother me; in point of fact, I know belong there. I understand the importance of that not only to the people, but also to those workers who are dealing with the crisis at hand. People need to see their leaders; the need to know that there is somebody in charge; they need to have a belief that there is direction; and they will derive the comfort they deserve that comes with knowing that their government is watching out for them.
- Communication during a crisis is vital. Our local radio station, wrcr , goes above and beyond in that regard and cleary filled a gap. Tonight I publicly acknowledge and thank them. The fact is we need to do better, and I will develop a plan to do that. My administration will revisit utilizing ‘€œ211’€, social media, apps, texts, and a comprehensive partnership with WRCR radio so as to ensure the people are not feeling abandoned during times of crisis. As a former law enforcement executive experienced in emergency planning and response, I fully understand this priority.
- As the first elected official in Rockland to introduce term limit legislation each year for the past three years as a legislator, I will re-introduce that legislation once again as your county executive. Further, know now that should I have the confidence of the voters to be re-elected to a second term, I will self impose a term limit on my tenure as county executive to two terms. Quite frankly, if I do not have this fixed after 8 years, someone else should take the helm. Seriously though, I believe it to be important that the tree of government be refreshed from time to time. I also believe that this will remove any doubt that my sole and only goal ‘€“ focused and direct ‘€“ is to put our train back on the tracks and to get us on a direction to again becoming the great county that we know we are. Once accomplished, the time will be at hand for me to move on.
- As I promised when I became a county legislator, I will not look to enlist or re-enter into the pension system to gain another pension, commonly referred to as double dipping. I believe that to be wrong, and there is a simple notion in my mind – when something is wrong, you just don’t do it.
- Contract agencies will be fully re-assessed and funded as they should; in a manner that augments necessary or mandated services that government should, but cannot efficiently, provide. Organizations that are inefficient, have top heavy administrative expenses, or high salary costs will not be funded by our taxpayer dollars
- And we will continue to address significant matters that affect all Rocklanders, issues that I have been front and center on for many years including the Tappan Zee Bridge, the MTA, public safety, and property and sales tax relief.
We cannot continue an insular approach to government and governance that prevents us from seeing the big picture. We have captains of industry, people in other levels of government and education, our unions, civic associations, our volunteers. There is such a vast amount of talent here in Rockland, and we have to bring them to government’s table to find the solutions to the problems. Regardless of who we are and where we are, we are all in this together. If we do not understand and act upon that simple notion, we are all destined to continue on the same downward path we are on now.
That is unacceptable. We need to change the direction of our county, and the same old political answers that got us here will not do that. If I did not truly believe that we could turn the corner, I certainly would not be looking to take on this responsibility. I probably would be looking to retire and become a snowbird. But I refuse to be chased out of my county by forces that can be altered. One thing I can say to you here tonight ‘€“ by the grace of god I will expend every ounce of my energy to do exactly that.
I will use every experience I have had in my lifetime. Commanding in the NYPD. Being the chief of detectives and having executive authority over a detective division of a 3200 member police department; as a corporate security director for a major property management firm affecting thousands of people and hundreds of businesses and guiding them through the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
I will use all of that and more; trust, integrity, and ethics, all that will be hallmarks of my administration.
Yes, our financial challenges are front and center here in Rockland, and how we confront that is critical. That is not news, as I had spoken to that very fact years back.
But recognize that is just one part of running government. Much else is involved, and know that in order to even begin solving a crisis of this magnitude, proven leadership and organizational skills are required.
Talk is cheap. Political platitudes and slick notions may sound good but our problems demand true leadership supported by real life, non-political experience. Not some masquerade or promotion within the political system and certainly not someone who tells you that they will ‘€œchange the system’€ when they are, by and large, part of that very system. One even speaks about getting rid of patronage when he had a patronage job with the county. The fact is that in order to continue their political careers and gain their political pension credits, they will have to go along to get along. The result is predictable ‘€¦ the same political approach that has brought us to the precipice.
Compare and weigh that against one who has no skin in the political system; but has had command and executive experience in the private and public sector. Someone you can trust and believe in because he has led in crisis; faced pressure; temptation, and has never, ever broken. I would like to believe that the choice is very clear.
Let others try to sell the citizens with platitudes, double speak, or some shallow and vague notion of ‘€œchange’€ or ‘€œvision.’€
Here you will get straight and direct talk. We will talk real time vision, supported by a consistent record of speaking to the challenges we face now for the past 5 years, only to be overruled or ignored time and time again by those entrenched within that very same political system.
While my wife will tell you that deep down inside I can be a softie, I have a reputation for being pretty blunt and direct. When you factor my being in government part time while a working a full time job and having no relatives on a government payroll, well that kind of enforces a direct and independent attitude. Seems to me that is exactly what we need right now.
In its simplest terms; your vote on election day is a selection, a hiring if you will, of the person you entrust to make decisions affecting, you, your family; your finances; and your future. I welcome having my resume compared and assessed by the citizens of our county.
Lastly, and this will not be a surprising to those of you who know me, I will govern with a passion. I truly believe that the county executive should be in the lead when it comes to any kind of issue that affects this county, a tireless advocate for the good of the people. It is a 24/7 kind of job that certainly I have been used to and look forward to.
I want to thank those citizens from all walks of life and various political persuasions who have already stepped up, and welcome those who will swell those ranks going forward. You have created a powerful, community based, election effort that already encompasses a county and five town committees numbering well over 200 people ‘€¦ and growing.
Our greatest resource is the people of this great county. I truly believe that, working together, we can solve our problems. I tell you here tonight ‘€¦. I have absolute faith that we will prevail. And I look forward to that moment in time when we will again look our children in the eye knowing that we have brought that great promise back to them, and I ask all to join me in that very special endeavor.
- Legislator Ed Day’s Website
- Schoenberger: Wants The County Exec Job He Helped Create, 01/18/13
- Former Legislator & Judge David Fried Runs For Rock Co Exec, 12/21/2012
- Suffern Mayor Says ‘He’s Ready’ to Be Rockland County Executive, 12/15/2012