With bipartisan support, the Westchester County Board of Legislators has chosen Legislator Ben Boykin, a White Plains Democrat.
Boykin was voted the new chairman of the Board of Legislators by a vote of 13-3 on Jan. 8.
“Tonight starts the dawning of a new era in Westchester County,” said Boykin after being elected. “The election is over and it is now time for the difficult task of governing for all of the people of Westchester County.”
The election of Boykin comes after derision from other progressive county Democrats, particularly from the political activism group Indivisible Westchester, who argued that Boykin’s apparent alignment with board Republicans ran counter to the progressive movement. The group urged that Legislator Catherine Parker, a Rye Democrat, who had support from the majority of the Democratic Caucus, was a better candidate for the position.
Three newly elected Democrats all voted against Boykin.
However, Boykin, garnered enough support from eight Democratic lawmakers and all five Republicans; Parker was never nominated as an alternative, but instead secured the position as new Democratic majority leader.
Boykin will replace incumbent Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, a Yorktown Democrat, who had served as chairman since 2014 under the tenure of former County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican.
Kaplowitz took over the chairmanship from then Legislator Ken Jenkins, a Yonkers Democrat, as part of a bipartisan coalition of legislators that included former Vice Chairman Jim Maisano, a New Rochelle Republican, that helped to thin the impact of a Democratic majority on the board. Kaplowitz formed the coalition along with another Democrat, Legislator Virginia Perez, of Yonkers, and eight Republicans that worked in unison with the Astorino administration.
Boykin will head a new Democratic supermajority that formed as a result of the November 2017 elections that helped to widen a Democratic majority by three seats to 12 out of the Legislature’s 17 seats overall.
According to Boykin, among his priorities will be passing a law that bans guns shows on county facilities—a move that would codify a recently signed executive order from newly elected Democratic County Executive George Latimer—as well as reviving the Immigration Protection Act that was passed by the Legislature last year but was ultimately blocked by an Astorino veto.
Boykin, who has a more than 40-year-long background in financial consulting, has been a member of the Board of Legislators since 2014 and has served as the vice chairman for the Committee on Budget and Appropriations.
In addition to Boykin’s election as chairman, Legislator Alfreda Williams, a Greenburgh Democrat, was also elected as vice chairwoman and Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky, a Hastings-on-Hudson Democrat, was elected as majority whip.
The chairman earns an additional $40,000 stipend on top of the $49,500 annual pay for serving on the Board of Legislators.