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Published: 1/17/2018

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Chairman A. Gregg Pulver
Cell 914-474-0908

It is an honor and a privilege to stand before you as the newly elected Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature. This year, we are in a unique situation with all new leadership in the Legislature.  I would first like to acknowledge those legislators that served in leadership the last two years: Chairman Dale Borchert, Majority Leader Jim Miccio, Assistant Majority Leader Donna Bolner, and Assistant Minority leader Francena Amparo, thank you for your service.  I look forward to working with the newly elected leadership team and I thank Majority Leader Kenny Roman, Assistant Majority Leader Don Sagliano, Minority Leader Hannah Black, and Assistant Minority Leader Kristofer Munn. I look forward to working with you and putting politics aside as we work to make Dutchess County a better place to live and work.

Before I List my goals and expectations for this coming year, I would like to acknowledge four important individuals. They say that behind every good man is a better woman.  I’ve been fortunate to have four great women who have helped me to stand before us all today. My mother, my mother-in-law, my wife, and my daughter have been a great source of inspiration to me.

I believe, in 2018, this legislature can do great things.  I have high expectations of what we can achieve by working together. In a nation that seems to have so much political division and downright nastiness, we need to foster civility and respect both in and out of the chambers. I believe in an open dialogue and cherish the right of every legislator to voice their opinion in a courteous and civil manner. Please join me in welcoming the new legislators: Rebecca Edwards, Deirdre Houston, Randall Johnson, Giancarlo Llaverias, Kris Munn, Nick Page, and Fritz Zernike to the Legislature. We look forward to the ideas you will bring forth and the energy you bring to the Chambers. I would encourage legislators both new and seasoned to attend all committee meetings regardless if they are members of that committee or not. Informed government is the best kind of government. When each member of this body takes an active role in the work we are doing, we will inevitably produce better results for the people we are elected to represent.

We have incredible promise in Dutchess, owed all to the people that live here. I want to ensure we are doing everything for the next generation to succeed as well. That is why I am forming a task force to monitor the “Path to Promise” study on youth services in our county and to look at challenges and opportunities for young people in our community. We can't shy away from the fact that we have an opioid crisis in our community, are we doing everything we can to make sure our young people aren't trying drugs? Do young people know the resources that are available if they are having problems? The youth task force will examine both the problems as well as the opportunities, such as ways to keep young people in Dutchess once they have finished college. I thank Will Truitt, our youngest legislator, and Craig Brendli, an educator, for leading this effort.

As a farmer, I will always be a strong supporter of agriculture. The face of agriculture has changed over the last decade something we thought could never happen in Dutchess County. Farming has expanded with hops, barley, and specialty crops fueling farm to table dining. Local distilleries and breweries are creating a new tourism market in the county. County tourism now exceeds $500 million in economic activity. I want to make sure our tourism efforts focus as much as possible on small businesses and farms. We need to find ways to make sure the traditional tourists in our county visiting sites like FDR and the Walkway are aware of the amazing agri-tourism opportunities throughout the county. I ask Nick Page and Deirdre Houston to take on this effort. Nick represents a city that has and is experiencing an incredible rebirth and Deirdre represents a more rural part of the County with farms and agriculture. I think Nick and Deirdre are the best people to collaborate and find ways to expand and integrate our traditional and modern tourism efforts.

Hollywood has provided an opportunity to have a discussion on the all too prevalent issue of sexual assault in the United States. This is not a new issue, rather an issue finally having light on it. I want Dutchess County to undergo a review of the services we provide to sexual assault victims as well as child abuse victims. When someone comes forward as a victim, we need to make sure the best process is in place for that to be the moment their healing process begins. With five colleges in Dutchess, we need to make sure the issue of sexual assault on their campuses is fully addressed and offenders are held responsible for their actions. Dutchess is already on the cutting edge with a sexual assault response team and child advocacy center, but can more be done to not only prevent abuse, but address it better once abuse becomes known? I ask Rebecca Edwards, a longtime college educator and Marge Horton to represent the Legislature as we examine the issue of child abuse and sexual violence. This is a herculean task but one that is too important to wait to do any longer.

I am looking forward to this year in the County Legislature. We all come from different backgrounds and different places. Some are multi-generational Dutchess residents while others recently made the decision to move to Dutchess for all that it offers. Regardless of how you came to Dutchess or what your story may be, you are now part of this Legislature and tasked with making the county the best that it can possibly be. As Chairman, my door will always be open to new ideas and ways to make what we already do well even better. I look forward to working with each of you, along with department heads and our countywide elected officials including the County Executive Marc Molinaro to make Dutchess County a model of not only good government but civility and respect. I thank you each for wanting to serve and I look forward to working with each of you to bring your ideas and initiatives forward to make Dutchess County an even better place to live, work, attend school, and raise a family. Thank you for the faith and courage you have bestowed upon me to be our Chairman. May 2018 be filled with health and happiness for you and your families and a prosperous and good year for Dutchess County. May God bless each and every one of you.

Thank you.