Legislators Bestow Distinguished Service Medals

WHITE PLAINS – At the final Board meeting of 2023 on December 11, the Board of Legislators honored three outgoing Legislators with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest recognition the Board can bestow on an individual who has significantly benefited the general welfare and common good of the County through dedicated public service.
Chairman Vedat Gashi issued the awards to former Board Chair Catherine Borgia, Legislator Damon Maher, and Legislator Symra Brandon.

Legislator Catherine Borgia (D – Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton, Ossining, Peekskill) served six terms from January 2012 to the present. Borgia has held important positions, including Chair of the Board’s Government Operations Committee, Democratic Majority Leader, and Budget and Appropriations Committee Chair. She worked with fellow Legislators and the County Executive’s administration to pass budgets that reduced the County’s property tax levy, rebuilt reserve funds, and invested in infrastructure. Borgia was elected as the Board Chair for the 2022-2023 term, making her the second woman to hold the position and the first in twenty years.

Legislator Borgia said, “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Westchester in this role for the past 12 years. The three pieces of legislation that I sponsored, worked hard to pass, and of which I am the most are Earned Paid Sick Leave, which the state passed after ours passed, the Immigrant Protection Act, which stated that we do not utilize County dollars to enforce federal immigration law and the Reproductive Healthcare Facilities Access Act which protects those seeking reproductive healthcare from harassment. I will continue to fight for the rights of all Westchester residents in every professional or volunteer role I take on in the future.”

Legislator Damon Maher (D – Eastchester, New Rochelle, Tuckahoe) served three terms as a legislator from January 2018 to the present. He chaired the Labor and Housing Committee, supporting affordable housing and advocating for several acts. Maher was also a member of the Westchester County Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force, which conducted a review of the County Department of Public Safety and developed a modernized plan to improve the department.

Legislator Maher said, “I am so grateful that, at age 61, I had the best job I have ever had. We are privileged to serve our constituents and the people throughout Westchester. That is what it is really about. I am particularly proud of certain accomplishments on the Board, such as helping to pass the Immigration Protection Act, the Salary History Ban, advocating for increased funding for quality daycare, the ban on the exhibition and performance of exotic animals, and raising the age for the sale of tobacco and related products from 18 to 21.”

Legislator Symra Brandon (D – Yonkers) chaired the Parks and Recreation Committee and was a member of several other committees, including Budget and Appropriations, Human Services, Human Rights and Equity, and Public Safety. She is also actively involved in various boards and organizations, such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Terrace City Chapter #26, Black Democrats of Westchester, the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, and the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus. Brandon also serves on the Board of Directors of Saint Cabrini Nursing Home and is Vice Chair of the Yonkers Charter Revision Commission.

Legislator Brandon expressed gratitude for the honor and the opportunity by saying, “Representing District 16 has been a profound privilege. From crucial votes on budgets like the Westchester Community College and the 2024 Westchester County budgets, I’ve wholeheartedly embraced the responsibility, knowing its direct impact on our residents. While this chapter concludes, my commitment to our community endures — I remain dedicated to supporting and serving alongside you in different capacities. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.”

Chairman Vedat Gashi (D – New Castle, Somers, Yorktown) said, “When the Board of Legislators presents the Distinguished Service Award to outgoing legislators, it is always a momentous occasion regardless of whether they have served six terms, three terms, or a partial term. It is a testament to their desire to give of themselves – their time and efforts – to serve the people of Westchester County. Legislators Catherine Borgia and Damon Maher were known for fighting passionately for the rights of the underserved and unprotected in their districts and throughout the County. We deeply thank Legislator Symra Brandon for stepping up to ensure that our constituents in District 16 were well represented. The residents of Westchester County are better off thanks to the dedication of these three individuals.”

County Executive George Latimer said, “Westchester County extends our deepest gratitude to Legislator Catherine Borgia, Legislator Symra Brandon, and Legislator Damon Maher for their commitment and dedicated service as members of the Board of Legislators. Their tireless efforts have left a lasting impact on Westchester County – improving the lives of our residents both collectively and in their respective districts. As they bid farewell at the end of the year, we recognize and appreciate the work they’ve done for our community.”

Members of the Board of Legislators shared their comments and anecdotes regarding the service of the three departing Legislators.

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