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Westchester Exec Latimer Challenges Bowman

Westchester County Executive and Congressional Democratic Primary Candidate George Latimer

On June 25, New York voters will select their party candidates for November. One notable Democrat race, NY’s 16th Congressional District, has Westchester County Executive George Latimer looking to upset incumbent Jamaal Bowman.

Latimer takes pride in being County Executive and a legislator for 30 years. “I’m watching Washington run, seeing what I call performance art instead of performance. I see people
saying outrageous things to get them on cable TV, increasing their Twitter likes and Instagram followers, but not addressing any problems that I think people see in society.” Latimer continued, “I have watched Jamaal these couple of years. I’ve watched him embrace The Squad. I see him on TV all the time, talking about his philosophy. I’m watching and think he’s not really articulating the things that I see in everyday people. I don’t feel he is in-sync. He’s generally been hostile to Israel. From October 7 on, some things he has said have just been off the charts.” Latimer continued, “I am a Roman Catholic Irish/Italian, blue-collar kid. I’ve always had good relations with the Jewish community. I’ve always considered myself pro-Israel. Pro-Israel does not mean a blank check for whatever the current government of Israel is doing, but it does mean you believe the state was legitimately created. You believe the state has a right to defensible borders. You understand it’s a democracy. If it’s flawed in some ways, so is our democracy, but it’s not an apartheid government, not an apartheid state.” Latimer added, “I found some of the things he said about Israel objectionable, and of course some of his votes; not voting for the infrastructure bill, not voting for at least one of the continuing resolutions Hakim Jeffries hammered out, I think as good a deal as you could to keep the government going.”

Latimer noted, “I believe in progressive principles, but I don’t think that means you have to be anti-Israel. There is the concept of ‘tikkun olam,’ repair the world, which is central to Judaism.” Latimer believes in applying this concept in government and in private lives. “We ought to be part of efforts to make the world better.” Latimer highlighted issues such as climate change, housing inequality and transportation.

On antisemitism, Latimer has “worked very diligently with the Westchester Jewish Council as a county official to try to deal as best as we can, with the rise in antisemitism. Along with anti-Asian hatred, these two most surprising isms became more prominent in the last few years. I think a person who is Jewish, who has a certain philosophy, might disagree with me on one policy or another, but I think I’ve shown by diligence as a legislator in Albany and County Executive in White Plains that I’m in-sync to the greater extent with Jewish philosophy, even as a person of a different faith tradition.”

As a former State Legislator, Latimer understands that a member of Congress is one of 435. “To be an effective member of Congress is to develop relationships and nurture them, helping get things done; the broadest number of positive relationships in the House with members of my party, and, where possible, developing relationships across the aisle. It is said we shouldn’t deal with the other side. We’re not going to accomplish things unless we reach that relationship. When you work across the aisle, you are not compromising a core position. If we work together to stop flooding, he/she has flooding in their district. I have flooding in my district. We’re not arguing about choice, but a strategy on flood financing remediation as the basis for cooperation.

“I think it’s a mistake to join groups like the Squad, ideologically outside the mainstream Democratic Party; good on rhetoric, not much oriented to results. They articulate anger and frustration primarily of people in the minority population. They don’t offer practical answers.” Latimer’s example is Bowman’s reparations proposal for the Black community, costing $14 trillion annually. The federal budget is $7 trillion annually.” Latimer continued, “The bill doesn’t specify eligibility. Is it for anybody who suffers from racism, as opposed to direct reparation for slavery? There’s no funding mechanism identified. We already have a national debt of $1.6 trillion. He’s just trying to get attention for it, not a serious response to reparations. That’s the problem of performance arts. That’s one of things you look at and say, let’s be responsible grownups when we go to Washington. Let’s try to identify money we could get and actually solve the problem, instead of doing things for show.”

“National stories on this race call Bowman progressive and Latimer the old white establishment guy,” Latimer stated. “When you’ve been around a long time, perception is you’re part of the establishment, out of touch, not a regular person, but cloistered away with other movers and shakers; you aren’t in the streets.”

Per Latimer, “Anybody that knows Westchester politics knows I have a grassroots mindset of the guy who’s 40, even though I’m 70. I have a good, solid record of accomplishments and a team of terrific people around me. I listen to them and try to be a good manager.”

Calling himself a low-key person, easy to talk to, who goes out of his way to be available to people, Latimer wants to be “a friend in Congress representing them and they can talk to; someone they can make progress with.”

Latimer self-describes having a “pretty good singing voice. I know this is going to sound like a politician, but I’m a normal person. I followed the Knicks and Rangers during the playoffs. I actually go out with friends in non-political settings. On karaoke nights, I’ll get up and rip a song out.”

After his youth in Mount Vernon, attending its public schools, Latimer earned his BA from Fordham and a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU.

From Rye City Council to County and State Legislatures and currently Westchester’s County Executive, Latimer has passed smart, effective policies that make a real difference in people’s lives.

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