In making his case for wanting a seat in the state legislature, Chris Burdick insists he’s not turning his back on Bedford.
Sitting in the supervisor’s chair he’s occupied for a dozen years now—the first Democrat in decades to hold that post in Bedford—Burdick argues that he could do even more for the town from Albany than he could from town hall.
Just days away from starting his fourth term as supervisor, Burdick declared his candidacy last week to succeed fellow Democrat David Buchwald in the state Assembly’s 93rd District. If elected, Burdick vowed in his Dec. 11 announcement, he would continue fighting for community needs in such areas as “education, infrastructure and fair taxes.”
“I am ready to deliver in the Assembly,” he told a gathering of supporters—state and local elected officials among them—in Bedford Hills’ historic Metro-North train station, where Democrats last month celebrated a Town Board electoral sweep.
In an interview later, Burdick portrayed a seat in the Assembly as broadening his potential ability to deliver for some 125,000 residents of the district, which includes all of Bedford as well as neighboring Lewisboro and North Salem as it stretches south through Harrison.
“I feel,” he said, “that I can contribute even more [in the Assembly] than I’ve been able to contribute to the community here, first as a member of the Town Board and then as supervisor.”
Burdick also made clear that despite a substantial cut in salary, he intended to treat the $110,000-a-year Assembly post as a full-time job, just as he has his annual $152,000-plus supervisor’s job. “For the last six years I have been full time as supervisor of the town and I would be a full-time member of the state Assembly,” he said.
Dismissing a popular depiction of Albany as a capital in the grip of only a few powerful political leaders, Burdick maintains, “The dynamics have changed. They really have. It’s more transparent. It’s more inclusive than it had been.”
If the supervisor’s latest electoral drive succeeds, he would go from the No. 1 seat in Bedford government to one of 150 seats in the Assembly. Still, Burdick sees a parallel with his service in Bedford, where he first wielded authority as chairman of the town’s Wetlands Control Commission.
But in successfully seeking elective office, Burdick gave up that narrow power in 2007, swapping it for a seat on the Town Board, where “I was one of five.”
“I was going in as a minority member because I was a Democrat and there was a Republican majority at the time,” Burdick recalled. “What was I going to accomplish as one member?”
But, as it turned out, “I was able to have some impact,” he said.
Then, in 2013, after Lee V.A. Roberts, the longtime Republican supervisor, retired, Burdick won a hard-fought contest to succeed her. In becoming supervisor, he said, “I found I could have even more impact in a positive way for the town.”
In Albany, Burdick predicted, his impact also would broaden. “I do feel,” he said, “that by going to the Assembly I can provide a great deal for the town of Bedford as well as all the municipalities in the 93rd Assembly District.”
Entering an already crowded field of hopefuls in the district contest, Burdick is the only one so far with elective experience.
Buchwald, a White Plains resident and the district’s assemblyman since 2013, announced in October that he will seek retiring Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey’s 17th Congressional District seat.