WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2021. News & Comment By John F. Bailey. April 25, 2021:
She will be the first woman to run for Westchester County Executive.
She could be a challenging opponent to incumbent County Executive George Latimer.
She is Christine Sculti, former assistant to County Executive Robert Astorino. Her biography from the Saint Pio Foundation where she currently serves the non-profit philanthropic organization that raises funds for health organizatons presents the potential for her delivering compelling arguments. Here is the Saint Pio profile of Ms. Schulti:
Christine Sculti is a highly skilled professional with extensive experience in government and the private sector.
As Chief Advisor to the County Executive, Christine was the highest-ranking woman in County Executive Robert P. Astorino’s administration, which cut taxes and kept spending flat for eight years. She has also served as Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Westchester County Taxi & Limousine Commission, as Assistant to the Mayor of Yonkers, spearheading a 1.5 billion dollar redevelopment project, and in economic development for New York State as Mid-Hudson Regional Director. She currently works as Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of the Westchester County Board of Elections.
As Vice President of a family-owned business and a corporate business development manager for an international business, Christine knows the importance of business-friendly policies that reduce regulations and keep taxes low in order that businesses can thrive and create jobs. She faced adversity when she was present for the bombing of the family’s satellite office at the World Trade Center in 1993. Her experience during that traumatic terrorist attack led her to embrace public service.
A Westchester resident since the age four when her family moved to Hartsdale, Christine graduated from Fordham University. Dedicated to community service, she served on the Hudson River Valley Greenway Board, Harrison Board of Assessors, Rye City Rotary Club, Yonkers Downtown W aterfront Development Corp. and the Mamaroneck Village Tree Committee.Currently, she is the Vice Chair of the Saint Pio Foundation.
Her wealth of experience appears to demonstrate a background of community-government interaction that could match Mr. Latimer.
He is a tough seasoned campaigner. He’s a skilled debater with a gift for rational, avuncular gravitas who has decimated previous opponents he defeated by skillful demonstrations in debates that brought out opponents’ lack of knowledge of county and state procedures.
Mr. Latimer’s “inside baseball” knowledge he uncannily remembers adlib in debates across his 30 years in government elective office impresses . He has used “inside baseball” to great success using facts and situational awareness to portray skillfully opponents’ experience, or lack of experience, as the wrong choice. and he– the right choice with facts, facts, facts which put opponents in the very defensive position of “not knowing” the facts.
Latimer has faced women before in previous challenges, but not as County Executive where he has been the man who charts policy and makes decisions. He is also been highly promotive of women’s issues. He cannot attack Ms. Sculti viciously. He cannot mock her as he did with Mr. Astorino, or attack her lack of government experience because she appears to have it.
However, Ms. Sculti is left with little issues to attack Latimer on in view of the bailout the American Recovery Act has supplied to eliminate losses from Covid and previous Democratic Legislators’ inability to count and multiply when they do county budgets, let alone forecast responsibly.
Whether the Astorino policy of not raising taxes which was Mr. Astorino’s only issue, still resonates is doubtful. People want their Westchester back better than before.
Ms. Sculti should not follow the advice of Republican experts as to what are the issues. Republicans in Westchester do not want to win elections. They do not fund their candidates enough. They cooperate with the Democrats by nominating weak candidates. Worst is that no Republican leaders elected or political pundits speakout regularly on issues before the county or decisions and policies with any kind of criticism or alternative solutions to what the county has decided. You never hear any positive solutions for the future from Republican policy people, because there appears to be no county Republican policy enthusiasts who care.
Ms. Sculti should not be seduced by Republican election experts who banked on Mr. Astorino’s tax holding the line policy as solely enough to defeat Latimer who exploited Astorino’s lawsuit against HUD as a Quixote-like policy which it was.
Mr. Latimer also had a way of selling Westchester on increasing funds for non-profits that it was time. It was a kindly message of compassion during first year of the Trump Terror of creating new regressive policies that hurt, never healed, hated, never loved, and killed and did not save, and enriched the few and impoverished the many. This should be instructive to Ms. Sculti.
Ms. Sculti should focus on a campaign that even if she is not elected will give Mr. Latimer a road map for the next four years, not a return to the “do nothing because we cannot afford it” Spano-Astorino County Executiving.
Ms. Sculti should challenge Mr. Latimer on how to use the excess funds that will be generated the rest of this year by Covid relief and new economic activity in the county. (Sales Tax receipts for the county were up 18% in March and 3 and a half per cent in the city of White Plains).
She needs to challenge Mr. Latimer on bringing in new businesses to the county. Getting the airport more convenient to business, despite Greenwich blocking every effort to expand air traffc. An aggressive air traffic pattern shifting approaches to the airport from the West has been suggested by experienced pilots as the way to handle more traffic without disturbing the gentry from Greenwich living near the airport.
Ms. Sculti should aim to target issues that hurt women: sex trafficking, sex harrassment in organizations, illegal, unsafe housing. With the new Westchester District Attorney , Mimi Rocah that is a natural issue.
Ms. Sculti’s tax focus should be on property taxes in local communities and how they can be equitable and I do not mean revaluing–a disaster–just ask The Town of Greenburgh.
One avenue I would not attack is the Latimer response to the Corona Virus.
In the last three days we continue to see Covid infections decline–1.9% infection rate Thursday, and 2% on Friday — and Saturday a 1.5% infection rate on 10,000 persons tested. The spread of corona virus vaccines is turning back the covid tied for the last 24 days. with just 150 infections Saturday.
There is no guarantee strict enforcement of covid masking, social distrancing and restaurant restrictions would have stopped the spread since enforcement it was not done by county or municipalities. Criticizing past performance can be easily deflected by Mr. Latimer. It cannot be redone. Handing health coordination better in the future is definitely an issue and more explicit information on health issues however that people can understand is;
Ms. Sculti should self-fund. She cannot depend on the Republican Party to spend in the dollars necessary to mount an awareness grassroots funding and media campaign and an interactive media presence as strong as the County Executive has. She has to look big and just as smart as Latimer in the ability to organize and persuade
Ms. Sculti needs to build on the public desire to come back to what Westchester once was.
She needs to create a sloganary vision to crystallize and speak to that fervent desire of her electorate—I suggest a slogan like
” Sculti — “What Westchester Wants”
HEALTH HAPPINESS RESPECT: A FUTURE NOT THE PAST.
Mr. Latimer is a formidable adversary.
Mr. Latimer is riding a wave where he appears to do no wrong in the eyes of the electorate,. Even when matters he supports did not work out, he rationalizes the unintended results as still positive for the county. This self-deprecating talent is very effective when matters do not work out to his administration satisfaction.
But he does accept responsibility for it and does not throw colleagues under the bus for the mistakes. This is very acceptable to the Westchester public. He has also cultivated strong support from the minority communities in Westchester.
Attacking past performance on Mr. Latimer does not work you have to attack with a different future. The Spano slogan of “Government that works for Westchester Families” promises more of the same.
The Latimer ability to portray confidence, thoughtfulness, and concern for people, that he “cares” more, delivered in a folksy, conversational patter of a trusted oldtime sportscaster is compelling. He charms male and female voter alike, inspires confidence and trust.
His daily dominance in the year of the coronavirus, and even before covid the first two years of his administration, made him a daily talk show second only to Governor Cuomo in the unofficial ratings.
It is not just broadcast and cable tv news outlets he dominated. He expanded the reach of the Westchester County website with full rebroadcasts on the county website; he used social media outlets, Facebook for example with daily videocasts of his counted-on news conferences on events around the county, covid briefings and Latimer Chats with county and local officials and experts.
Those are the skill sets Mr. Latimer has that Ms. Sculti will have to demonstrate that she also has, but can do better.
He is literally the “Latimer News Network..”
Ms. Sculti needs to be the “Sculti Westchester Network”