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Home Government Rye's Own Inauguration: Latimer Sworn in to Third Term as Assemblyman

Rye’s Own Inauguration: Latimer Sworn in to Third Term as Assemblyman

Over 100 Sound Shore residents were in attendance at Port Chester's Senior Center on Thursday, January 15th as George Latimer took the oath of office as Assemblyman for the 91st Assembly District for his third term. Latimer, 55, a resident of Rye, was re-elected last November with a 71%-29% margin over his challenger, carrying all areas of the L.I. Sound coastal district that reaches from New Rochelle, through Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye, Port Chester and Rye Brook.

Latimer's prior public service includes four years on the Rye City Council and seven terms on the Westchester County Board of Legislators. He outlined his priorities for the new term in a 15-minute inaugural address, which is printed in its entirety below:

"May I begin by thanking all of you for being here today – to the Port Chester Senior Center and its team for opening their room, and their hearts to me, yet one more time…and to the people of this community, and alongside them, today, people from Rye Brook, from the City of Rye, and all throughout my district, may I thank you all for taking time to be here today and to share this moment with me. A special note of thanks to Marty Rogowsky, County Legislator, my good friend and colleague in government, for serving as emcee…to Mayor Pilla, Mayor Feinsteen and Supervisor Carvin for sharing their thoughts…to the members of the clergy…to Dr. Brancucci and Sonny Mangini. I thank you all.

The great Inaugural Addresses of our nation usually pivot on a phrase that summarizes the moment and is remembered forever. During the final days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called on an attitude of “Malice toward None / Charity toward All” in the midst of the fiercest fighting, American vs. American, ever seen in our history. He had less than 60 days to live from that inaugural moment. Franklin Roosevelt, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, told us the only thing we had to fear is…Fear itself. And he led us through 12 years of economic hardship and devastating war, to the brink of a new America, which was truly born just after his life ended, just before V-E Day. As a 6 year-old little boy, watching a black-and-white TV, I saw young, handsome John F. Kennedy summon us to “ask what we could do for our country”; he had but a Thousand Days. On the very day of my 10th birthday, November 22, 1963, he was slain in Dallas. Each of these national leaders spoke of a grand and good vision, on the day of their inauguration, which they were not personally able to live to see. But we are all the better for their vision, articulated on their Inauguration Day, and their service in public office.

It is a long way down from the Presidency to holding a seat in the New York State Assembly, to represent you in Albany. What visions Assemblymen have are rarely paid attention to – it is for Governors and Presidents to give their visions, as chief executives.

Yet, I am standing here because you allowed me to. I asked once again, in last year’s election, for the right to be your voice amidst the cacophony of voices in our state capitol. And you permitted me, with your votes, to do so again. So, in fairness, as an Assemblyman, not a President, what do I propose to do with your gift of faith?

First, I propose, as I swore before Almighty God, based on my religious faith, to tell you the truth. Today’s truth – the economic picture we face in Albany, is grim. To balance our budgets, we must cut spending – and in some areas that will hurt you, and me and others. To tell you otherwise would be, on the day of my oath, to lie to you and myself, at the very outset. Truth also means that sacrifice must come from all quarters – not just from the corner of the ideological spectrum one favors, be they Liberal or Conservative. We are all in this together. One person’s “fairness” is another person’s “special interest”. I will try to balance those needs, as best I can, tell you the truth as I see it.

Secondly, I propose to listen. To hear what you say, what you believe, and to take it to heart. You may say things I don’t agree to, or you may say things that are critical of me, or a position I have taken, but it is my responsibility to listen. This is representative government – not dictatorial government. When I sit alone in my home, thinking about what I must do in Albany, your thoughts must be a part of mine, that I remember what Josephine Yusi said to me at Carver Center, or what Len Lagonegro said to me here in Port Chester, and as well, what Cy Vinopol and Jean Mendicino said to me in Rye Brook, and Esther Martensen and Sis D’angelo said in Rye, and all throughout the other communities I represent. I will try to listen and learn.

Thirdly, I propose to act. To vote for bills and budgets that are the best possible outcomes, and to vote against bills and budgets that I cannot agree with, and to speak clearly, without rancor, however it may fall. As the umpire says “when its outside, I call it a “ball”. When it’s over the plate, I call it a “strike”. No matter who’s pitching. Sometimes that can be awkward, given the political realities of parties, agendas. But if I’m not true in my actions, to the best of my ability, then why am I here?

There is more money to be made by leaving public office and returning to the private sector workforce, while I’m still young (i.,e. 55, if that’s “young”). There is more time and joy to be had with friends and family, than in driving to Albany on a snowy, frigid night. There is more glory volunteering on a good community project at Don Bosco, then at a public meeting where half of the room is angry at you.

I am here, sworn in again this day, because I have asked for the chance to prove to you once again that in this small way, democracy – self-governance – works. The
dreams of Thomas Jefferson come true when the son of a maintenance man, Stan Latimer, and a factory worker, Loretta Latimer, walks into the State’s legislative chamber and is duly chosen to voice the needs of 125,000 people in a state of 19 million.

These are difficult times. You in this room who are living in your 90th year, your 80th year, your 70th year – you have already seen times more difficult than this. Someone say, well, the economy’s bad, we’ll have to cut back on eating out – but you remember when eating out even once was a luxury beyond your family’s resources. Some will say we can’t buy a new car this year; but you remember when a “new” car meant owning a “used” car that was “new” to you. Or you had no car at all, and walked, or took the trolley.

You are the role model for me and my generation, if indeed these times are to become tougher still. You and your generation defeated a worse economy, and you had energy enough left to defeat Hitler and Tojo, too, and to build the post-war America of suburbs and interstate highways, and NASA and the internet, that my generation enjoyed almost from our cribs.

I take courage from your lifelong courage; I take energy from your energy, and faith from your faith, even as we, in America, and in New York State, are being tested again. We are, my friends, in this State – in this economy, being tested again.

And I believe we will again prove that Americans, and especially New Yorkers, always rise to meet every test. God willing.

Thank you. God bless you and God bless this wonderful land we call home."

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