WHITE PLAINS — On November 7, 2023, three new Legislators were elected to represent Westchester residents in County Legislative Districts 9, 10, and 16. Legislator Emiljana Ulaj (D – Cortlandt, Ossining, Croton, Briarcliff, Buchanan), Legislator Judah Holstein (D – Eastchester, New Rochelle, Tuckahoe), and Legislator Shanae Williams (D – Yonkers) were officially sworn in at the Board’s Organizational meeting on Monday, January 8, along with the 14 current Legislators.
Legislator Emiljana Ulaj said, “Public service and government is about creating the conditions for residents to thrive and self-actualize. Every step we take, every priority we advance, will be done with that goal in mind. As an immigrant and a refugee, the weight of the responsibility of this role is never lost on me. I look forward to working together with my County Legislative colleagues-For The People.”
Ulaj and her family fled Albania in 1997 in the midst of a civil war. After nearly a year spent as refugees, the family emigrated to the United States where they were granted asylum. They settled in Northern Westchester, and Emiljana’s parents worked multiple jobs to ensure a stable family life. Her father found a union job at a local public school that provided health insurance for the whole family and financial security for the children to go to college and pursue fulfilling careers. Seizing on this opportunity, Emiljana began a career focused on public service. Today, Ulaj works as a union organizer for New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the union that gave her family so much. Having worked as a hands-on public advocate, staff member for the New York State Senate, and currently as a union organizer, Emiljana looks forward to advocating for others on the County Board of Legislators. She is a graduate of John Jay High School in Cross River and Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. Her work history includes serving as Director of Communications & Strategic Planning for State Senator Shelley B. Mayer, Communications Specialist for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ, and Regional Political Organizer for NYSUT.
Legislator Judah Holstein said, “I have always been a fair and objective listener, helping people understand different viewpoints and bringing people together. People appreciate being heard and being treated with respect, even in a disagreement. I look forward to representing District 10 and working with my colleagues at the Board of Legislators to find effective solutions to the challenges we all face.”
Holstein is a lifelong District 10 resident and a graduate of Iona College, Judah was raised in the Bonnie Crest neighborhood of New Rochelle. His wife, Jackie, grew up in Eastchester but was born in New Rochelle and traces her New Rochelle roots back four generations. Judah and his family live in Eastchester, where his three children all attended public school.
Judah began his career as a respected software developer in the corporate world, and founded his small software company, Miracom Computer Corp., in 1995. He has a long history of community involvement, including three terms on the Eastchester School Board beginning in 2013, where he worked to ensure the best possible public education through advocacy, vision, communication, and balance. Throughout his tenure, he has consistently advocated for the residents of Eastchester and their children, exercised responsible budget oversight, fostered constructive dialogue to build consensus and achieve outcomes, and prioritized transparency and diplomacy. In addition to his three terms on the School Board, he has served on the boards of three local PTAs, the Westchester East Putnam Regional PTA, the Eastchester Schools Foundation, the Eastchester Alumni Association, and the Westchester Putnam School Boards Association. He has been a friend and advocate to SEPTA, the Eastchester Traffic and Parking Committee, the Eastchester Library, and others.
Legislator Shanae Williams said, “I am honored to represent the 16th district and look forward to working on issues that matter most to my constituents, including housing, quality of life, and mental health. As an immigrant from a big family, I have always looked to understand different perspectives and bring people together.”
Williams was born in Jamaica, immigrated to Yonkers as a child, and attended the Westchester public school system. Williams holds a Bachelor of Science from the State University of New York at Albany and holds the highest GPA Award for the Class of 2011 in the Department of Sociology. Williams interned and then served in the New York State Assembly. Upon graduating from college, Shanae worked full-time at the Office of the Mayor of Yonkers. She obtained her Master of Business Administration with a focus in Leadership from Walden University in 2015. Williams was appointed to the Yonkers City Council on January 1, 2018 and subsequently elected to the Council in 2019, where she represented the First Council District.
Williams was the City Council’s liaison for the Yonkers Human Rights Commission, and Chair of the Community and Mental Health Committee, Women and Children Committee, and the former chair of the Legislation and Codes Committee. Williams has been a leader in advocating for more affordable housing in Yonkers and a strong advocate for the homeless community in downtown Yonkers. She looks forward to continuing her work for the residents of the City of Yonkers in her new role as County Legislator for District 16.
Chairman Vedat Gashi (D- New Castle, Somers, Yorktown) said, “We are excited to begin the 2024-2025 Legislative term by welcoming a strong freshman cohort of three duly elected Legislators. I look forward to hearing their unique perspectives and ideas as we collaborate as a body to move forward for the benefit of their districts and all of Westchester County.”