White Plains, NY — With the close of the 2018-2019 legislative term, the Westchester County Board of Legislators is honoring four legislators who are departing.

Former Board Chair Mike Kaplowitz, Minority Leader John Testa, Minority Whip Gordon Burrows and Legislator Virginia Perez were presented with Distinguished Service awards from the Board at a ceremony on December 3. The four of them combined for more than 50 years of service in the county legislature.

Leg. Kaplowitz leaves after 22 years on the Board, serving with distinction for nearly half of the Board’s 50-year history. He will be joining the County Executive’s administration as a Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Facilities, evaluating financial and governance issues related to sewer districts and the costs and benefits of consolidations.

Over his tenure, Kaplowitz played a role in establishing the county's Human Rights Commission, he provided crucial leadership in support of the housing settlement and approval of the North 60 planned biotech development. His work to preserve and expand the county's parks, green spaces and environmental centers will benefit Westchester residents for generations. His advocacy of the use of tobacco settlement financing to invest in Westchester Medical Center will pay benefits for years in the health of the people of Westchester. And his diligent attention to sound financial practices set a model for good government.

Minority Leader John Testa, who is retiring after 10 years on the Board, has served on the Budget & Appropriations, Environment, Legislation, and Rules committees, and has been a sound voice for fiscal responsibility and environmentally friendly policies.

Testa's career has been a model of public service -- not just on this Board, where he has served as Minority Leader for the last six years, but as a teacher, as a member of the Peekskill Common Council, as a three-term Mayor of Peekskill, and, as president of Peekskill’s Lincoln Depot Museum. The spirit of cooperation with which he has always worked with across the aisle is an example his colleagues will always remember.

Minority Whip Gordon Burrows is a member of the Law & Major Contracts, Legislation, and Public Safety committees, and has been a member of the Board for 14 years. His experience as a lawyer, and his prior decade of service on the Yonkers City Council, made him a formidable legislator. His ability to drill down into language and issues to shape legislation, vet contracts, and examine other legal matters has been a tremendous asset to this board, saving money and ensuring better outcomes for the people of Bronxville, his native Yonkers, and all of Westchester.

Legislator Virginia Perez departs after eight years on the Board. She is the first Latina ever elected to this position. She chaired the Board’s Public Safety Committee, then served as chair of the Committee on Legislation for five years, where she played an important role in key protections for the people of Westchester -- including passage of the Immigration Protection Act, the law raising the age for the purchase of tobacco to 21, the law to ensure access to paid sick leave for workers and the law to the combat the wage gap by eliminating hiring questions about salary history.

Board Chair Ben Boykin said, “Honoring departing colleagues is a bittersweet moment, but we thank Mike, John, Gordon, Virginia for their dedication to the people of their districts and all of Westchester County. We will always be guided by their example, and wish them the greatest of success in their future endeavors.”

(PICTURED ABOVE L to R: Minority Whip Gordon Burrows, Leg. Mike Kaplowitz, Leg. Virginia Perez, Minority Leader John Testa; Photo: Jaevon Boxhill)

(L to R, Bottom: Leg. Nancy Barr, Majority Leader Catherine Parker, Chair Ben Boykin, Minority Leader John Testa, Minority Whip Gordon Burrows, Leg. Virginia Perez, Leg. Mike Kaplowitz, Leg. Margaret Cunzio, Leg. Catherine Borgia, Leg. Terry Clements; Top: Leg. David Tubiolo, Leg. Kitley Covill, Leg. Lyndon Williams, Leg. Christopher Johnson, Majority Whip MaryJane Shimsky, Vice Chair Alfreda Williams, Leg. Damon Maher; Photo: Jaevon Boxhill)