Rockland County got a new executive Wednesday as Edwin Day took the oath of office after C. Scott Vanderhoef declined to seek reelection after 20 years in office.
Day, a 62-year-old Republican with a law enforcement background, vowed to turn the county’s serious fiscal situation around. Rockland’s budget deficit is at an astronomical $127 million, and their credit rating is one grade above junk status. The state Comptroller’s Office labels the county, which hosts a dense Jewish population in Monsey and Spring Valley, as the most fiscally stressed of all counties in New York State.
“What we embark upon today is a journey, not a quick trip,” Day said, according to the Journal News. “But let us recognize that while we cannot ignore the realities that face us, we can certainly confront them and together, with courage and determination at our side, we will prevail over them.”
The county has had to borrow heavily and hike property taxes repeatedly to cover huge budget deficits.
But the first problem to confront him, as it does all local municipality heads across the Northeast, is the snowstorm forecast to begin Thursday.
Vanderhoef, who served five four-year terms in the job, was the second to hold the post since it was established in 1985. His retirement plans include a private law office and teaching environmental law at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill.
Day, a Rockland legislator, was one of a few Republicans who won county races in New York state in November, including in Westchester and Nassau. But he will have to deal with a Democratic majority, ironically strengthened into a veto-proof majority by Day’s resignation from the legislature to become county executive.
In the race to succeed him, the Orthodox community had voted as a bloc for Day’s Democratic opponent amidst concern that he was supported by the Preserve Ramapo group, which seeks to defund yeshivos in favor of the public school system.
However, the Orthodox Jew who will be elected by his colleagues Thursday as Democratic majority leader in the Rockland legislature, Aron Wieder, told Hamodia in a recent interview that he was impressed by Day’s rhetoric since getting elected.