Byrne supports Constitutional County resolution

State Assembly Member Kevin Byrne said he plans to campaign next year to become the next Putnam County executive, succeeding MaryEllen Odell, who cannot run because of term limits.

Kevin Byrne
Kevin Byrne

Byrne, a Republican from Mahopac whose district includes Carmel, Patterson, Putnam Valley and Southeast in Putnam and Somers and Yorktown in Westchester, announced his campaign Nov. 12 after notifying members of the local Republican and Conservative parties.

In a video posted on Facebook, he cited the “dangers coming to us from big-government aggressors who seek to deprive us of our tax dollars, our freedoms and limit our prosperity,” and said he has “stood against the Albany establishment and its harmful policies.”

Byrne’s platform includes freezing salaries for elected officials; capping new discretionary spending; eliminating sales taxes on “basic” clothing and footwear; requiring a 60 percent supermajority to pass a tax increase; and protecting gun-permit holders’ information from “unsafe or inappropriate disclosure” — a reference to a refusal in 2013 by Putnam officials to release that data to The Journal News despite a state law that says the information is public.

Byrne said he would also, if elected, ask county lawmakers to pass a resolution declaring Putnam “a Constitutional County … that will stand up for its people and defend their constitutional rights through advocacy and additional county resources where and when appropriate.”

The Constitutional County movement has been popularized by a group called Defend Rural America that argues that any local or state laws “that are repugnant to the Constitution” should be considered “null and void.” A handful of counties have adopted resolutions, including York in Virginia, Brown in Texas, Lyon in Nevada and Cattaraugus in western New York. A few also have rejected the idea, including Mesa in Colorado and Bremer in Iowa.

Byrne is a former health care administrator and a regional director for the American Heart Association. He also served on the Putnam Valley Planning Board and was deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth when she held office. The New York Republican State Committee has called him a “rising star” in the party.

Elected to the Assembly in 2016, and reelected in 2018 and 2020, Byrne has supported an analysis of the impact on the economy of the state’s primary climate-change law and the repeal of a law that eliminated, beginning in January 2020, cash bail for most misdemeanors and some felonies.

Byrne has also criticized a state fund created for undocumented immigrants who lost income during the pandemic but were ineligible for unemployment and other benefits; and he supports the repeal of gun restrictions approved by the Legislature in 2013 in the SAFE Act.

In August, Byrne co-sponsored a bill that would ban the teaching of “critical race theory,” a decades-old way of analyzing race that conservative Republicans have embraced as an issue although it is not taught in the state’s K-12 schools.

Odell, a Republican, first became Putnam County’s executive in 2011, when she won a special election to complete the term of Vincent Leibell, who resigned before taking office because of federal corruption charges. She won election in 2014 and 2018. Under the county charter, the county executive cannot serve more than two consecutive full terms.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

The Peekskill resident is a former reporter for the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, where he covered Sullivan County and later Newburgh. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: General.