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Biography of Andrew J. Spano, Westchester County Executive

Whether in government, politics or education, County Executive Andy Spano has always been a leader with vision, recognized nationally for his groundbreaking accomplishments.

As County Executive he brought Westchester into the national spotlight with innovations that benefited local residents and served as models for the country. As County Clerk, he revolutionized the clerk’s office, gaining national recognition as an advocate for reengineering government to save tax dollars and provide better services. As an educator, he helped to found the United Federation of Teachers, the largest, most prestigious teachers union in the nation.
Elected by large margins in 1998, 2001 and 2005, County Executive Spano was the second Democrat to be elected to the county’s highest office. As County Executive, Mr. Spano has initiated dozens of programs to improve the quality of life in Westchester: Programs that protect the environment, encourage affordable housing, combat domestic violence and enhance the security and safety of all county residents.

A protector of the environment, Mr. Spano has preserved 2,300 acres of open space from Yonkers to Yorktown and instituted programs to protect water quality. He tripled, to $30 million, the County’s New Homes Land Acquisition Fund, which helped builders of affordable housing overcome the high cost of land. Under his administration, the county expanded day care and instituted programs to protect children against predators and addressed problems such as teen drinking, smoking and obesity.

A strong, tireless advocate for people, he likes nothing better than getting “out there” to talk and listen to his constituents. He has worked to make government more accessible through the county's award-winning website and through "Westchester Telecom," a high-speed fiber optic network that links schools, libraries, local governments and other public institutions.

As past president of County Executives of America, an organization representing the interests of counties nationwide, Mr. Spano has used his influence to make changes in state and national policy. Throughout his tenure as County Executive, Mr. Spano has brought Westchester into the national spotlight, with cutting edge programs that have made Westchester first. As a board member of the New York State Association of Counties, he was successful in getting the state to reduce the cost of Medicaid to counties, lifting a growing burden from local taxpayers. A groundbreaking lawsuit against a local utility - a first - helped to reduce electric costs for consumers who were being unfairly charged higher rates.
Mr. Spano is no stranger to firsts. In 1982, he became the first person in Westchester history to win a countywide elective office against an incumbent administrator. As County Clerk, Mr. Spano introduced modern technology, tripling the amount of work done with no increase in staff. Again he lobbied for wider changes, helping to guide a law through the State Legislature that created a records management improvement fund which benefited clerk’s offices statewide. As County Clerk, he also developed a nationally renowned Archives and Records Center, which provides access to the largest public and private historical collections.

Mr. Spano’s love for history came from his 25 years as an educator. Teaching social studies ultimately gave way to a career as an administrator and advocate for children with special needs. An innovator in his field, he started an alternative school for children and ultimately became a founder and one of the leaders of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City.

Mr. Spano has been recognized by many prestigious groups for his contributions and accomplishments. He has been the recipient of numerous awards in the areas of human rights, education, government and labor. Some of these include: An honorary doctorate in Commercial Affairs awarded by Pace University in 2004, The O’ Hare Medal awarded by Fordham University’s School for Social Justice in 2005, the Westchester Arts Council's 2000 "Man of the Year" award; The 2000 League of Conservation Voters award, The 1999 Guardian of the Sound award for environmental protection of the Long Island Sound; the Fight Hunger Award from the Westchester Coalition of Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens; and the Special Achievement Award from the New York State Federation of Police.

Born April 17, 1936, Mr. Spano grew up in the Bronx and holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Fordham University. He and his wife, Brenda Resnick Spano, live in Yorktown and have six grown children and six grandchildren.


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