MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Incumbent Putnam County Legislator Amy Sayegh has just completed her first three-term and is facing former legislator Dini LoBue in the Republican primary to be held Tuesday, June 23. Those who requested absentee ballots can vote by mail, otherwise, traditional polling places will be open.
LoBue previously held the seat Sayegh now occupies (District 8- Mahopac/Mahopac Falls) before losing to her in the GOP primary in 2017. There is no Democratic challenger, so the winner of the primary will become the presumptive winner of the District 8 seat in November when the general elections are held.
Here is a look at the two candidates.
Amy Sayegh is a 21-year resident of Mahopac. She lives here with her husband, John, and three children, Susannah, Sophia and Alex, who all attended Mahopac schools.
Sayegh is a charter member of the Mahopac Lions Club and past vice president of the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce. In 2020, she received the Excellence Award for Women in Government, from MPac, an organization in Westchester County founded to promote and advocate for social justice.
She is chair of the legislature’s Health, Social and Environmental Committee and sits on the Economic Development, Audit and Budget committees. She is a member of the Board of Health, the Soil and Water Board and Agriculture Board.
In 2008 Sayegh founded Putnam Community Cares, a 501(c)(3) not -or -profit that provides services to families during a medical crisis.
“I founded this organization to pay back the help and support I received from this community during my own battle with breast cancer in 2005,” she said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to partner with the United Way of Westchester & Putnam to provide over $30,000 in meals from local business to our senior citizens, those who are immune-compromised and our healthcare heroes on the frontline, as well as first responders throughout Putnam County.”
Sayegh graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She then worked as an internal auditor for a large regional bank.
“I am the wife of a small-business owner, the daughter of a small-business owner and I understand all too well what our mom-and-pop shops have been through over these past few months,” she said. “Both my daughters have lost their jobs. We have an uphill fight here in New York, having been shut down since March, but I have no doubt we will get there with competent, supportive leadership with the vital business experience.”
Sayegh said one of the reasons she is seeking re-election is that she believes mandates and lack of funding from the state are a burden to local government.
“Mismanagement in Albany has a direct effect on county government,” she said. “At the beginning of this pandemic, Albany was trying to budget for a $6 billion Medicaid shortfall, which was to be passed down to local governments. As chair of the Health Committee, I passed a resolution imploring our state leaders not to pass this shortfall to the counties, something we have no control over. These types of mandates are difficult to budget and a burden to our local taxpayers.”
Sayegh said that as chair of the Economic Development Committee, she helped create a close economic team consisting of the Industrial Development Agency and the Economic Development Corporation and brought back tourism as a county department to more closely collaborate with the rest of the economic team, including the Putnam Business Council.
“We have a conservative budgeting practice which has served us well,” she said. “During my term, the Moody’s Investor Service upgraded Putnam County’s ranking from Aa2 to Aa1, citing the county’s budgeting practices, something only five out of 62 counties in New York have achieved.”
Sayegh said one of the biggest challenges the county now faces is reopening the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The New York Association of Counties has estimated a sales tax revenue loss ranging from $5.4 million to $13.1 million, depending on the economic scenario going forward,” she said. “We will also be faced with the loss of state aid for Putnam County to be anywhere from $4.4 million to $11.1 million. Given the uncertainty of these tax revenues, the county executive has implemented austerity measures limiting spending to try to minimize the need for more drastic actions in the future.
“On the legislature, I will continue to employ a conservative implementation of the budget, and my vision for a smaller, more efficient government that utilizes the public/private partnership, allows for innovation and saves the taxpayer hard-earned dollars.”
Dini LoBue has been a Mahopac resident for over 45 years. She is a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church and a graduate of the Mahopac school system. She attended Mercy College for business and marketing and is an independent visual design consultant and stylist.
LoBue served on the Putnam County Legislature from 2009 to 2017 where she chaired the Economic Development Committee, Physical Services Committee, Rules, Enactments & Intergovernmental Relations Committee and the Energy Commission subcommittee. She also served on the Audit & Administration Committee; Health, Social, Educational & Environment Committee; and the Protective Services Committee.
As a member of the Protective Services Committee, she seconded the legislature’s resolution opposing the state’s SAFE Act. As chair of the Rules Committee, she championed the creation of the Putnam County Animal Cruelty Register.
“I also helped pass much-needed term-limit Legislation,” she said. “And together with residents, I successfully opposed county efforts to install a cell tower on the Airport Park soccer fields.”
LoBue said she wants to return to the legislature because during these uncertain times it is even more imperative to “have a legislator who actively promotes [residents’] interests in the legislature.”
“In this environment, I believe there are three paramount issues: cost savings, full disclosure by the legislature and honesty with the public,” LoBue said. “As a resident and neighbor, I know during this crisis, people are hurting both emotionally and financially. I was a caregiver in the last years of my mother’s life and can’t even imagine families not being able to be by the side of their loved ones during this time of isolation, or the children that will not be able to participate in graduation ceremonies while friends and family members look on in the audience. I understand the loss of what was as the businesses here in town face permanent closure, not knowing how they will recover.”
LoBue said that from the beginning of her term in office as a legislator, she was determined to find cost savings in every expenditure request by the county executive.
“No area was exempt, and so I combed every department budget,” she said. “Since the jail was the largest user of energy, I used it as a prototype to initiate energy audits. During this period, school shootings in Newtown and elsewhere prompted me to support the use of retired police offices in the Mahopac School District, instead of engaging and diverting police officers from the County Sheriff’s Department and the Carmel Police Department—a cost-saving measure which did not in any way sacrifice the safety of our schoolchildren and personnel.”
LoBue also introduced the Putnam County Film Commission and Discover Putnam tourism initiatives, which are still in effect today.
LoBue says she is opposed to bypassing committee rules in fast-tracking appropriations or allocation of funds under the pretense of an “emergency,” which she says have now become routine.
“The result is the public is purposely left in the dark and therefore is either unaware or misinformed about critical legislation impacting their lives as taxpayers,” she said. “A stunning example has been the accounting sleight of hand wherein at the Dec. 18 year-end meeting, a budgetary amendment transferred $250,000 from the fund balance to cover the settlement costs awarded in the Hossau civil-rights-violation case against the county. Contrary to the charter and procedure, that settlement was never brought before the full legislature for a vote. My opponent stood silent on this matter.”
LoBue said that Mahopac residents need a voice in the legislature but contends submissive approval has been the pattern exhibited through two budgetary cycles by her opponent.
“She has voted in favor of every expenditure, budgetary transfer and a never-ending stream of bonding without even a word uttered in committee or to the taxpayers of Mahopac,” LoBue said. “Most egregious has been the 2019 vote approval of the county executive’s salary increase to $158,000 on par with the Westchester County executive who makes $160,000. Westchester County provides government services to over a million people, thus making it 10 times the size of Putnam County.”
LoBue contends that the biggest challenge the legislature faces in the coming year is putting the brakes on overspending.
“While local businesses are closing their doors permanently and residents are on food lines unable to afford the spiraling costs of food and neglecting health to meet expenses, county government with the approval of my opponent is spending lavishly on non-essentials, such as the golf course and Tilly Foster Farm,” she said. “What this demonstrates is a lack of priority which doesn’t put the essential needs of the taxpayers first.”
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