The Fordham Ram

Fordham Produces Five Westchester Execs

Each+of+the+county+executives+sited+a+connection+between+attending+Fordham+and+being+politically+engaged.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Wikimedia%29
Each of the county executives sited a connection between attending Fordham and being politically engaged. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

Each of the county executives sited a connection between attending Fordham and being politically engaged. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

Each of the county executives sited a connection between attending Fordham and being politically engaged. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia)


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By Joe Esposito

Each of the county executives sited a connection between attending Fordham and being politically engaged. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

While Fordham University has produced many distinguished alumni in various positions, Westchester County Executive is one position that stands out. There have been nine total Westchester County Executives, and the past five in a row all have some degree from Fordham.

Alfred Del Bello, LAW ’59, was in office from 1974 to 1982. Andrew O’Rourke, FCRH ’54, served from 1983 to 1997. Andrew Spano served from 1998 to 2009 and graduated from Fordham’s Undergraduate School of Education in 1957. Robert Astorino, FCRH ’89, served from 2010 to 2017. The current county executive, George Latimer, FCRH ’74, began his term in 2018.

Spano, Astorino and Latimer all have unique experiences with Fordham, but they all recalled similar themes about their relationship with the university. While these three men are now in the same field of work, it was not the pursuit of political life that brought them to Fordham.

Spano came to Fordham because the school was in his family. He said he wanted to follow in his uncle’s footsteps, who he was very close with.

For Astorino, his love of broadcasting brought him to Fordham.

“I wanted to go to a good communications school, and Fordham certainly was one of the top ones then and still is,” he said.

Astorino was attracted to Fordham’s reputation, as well as the opportunities the school would provide him.

Latimer recalled visiting Fordham and falling in love with the campus. He also said he was attracted to its academic advantages, as Astorino was.

While at Fordham, these men had experiences which they believe had an effect on their political career. For instance, Astorino recalled having professors at Fordham whose political viewpoints he strongly disagreed with. “I remember getting in debates and firming my opinion against theirs,” he said. “It was good for me to hear the other side as well because maybe it would open my mind a little bit. It also sharpened my skills to push back and not be afraid to give my opinion, and that has served me well for my career in politics.” he said.

For Spano the background in education that he received at Fordham immersed him into politics. As a teacher, he became the union head for a school.

“I got involved in the union movement; that’s how I started in politics,” he said.

In fact, Spano was one of the original founding members of the United Federation of Teachers.

All three men also attended Fordham during a period with a significant political landscape. Spano attended during the McCarthy hearings, Latimer attended during the time of the Watergate Scandal and Astorino attended during the Reagan-Bush era. Spano recalled how the hearings spurred great discussion and debate in class, where people were on both sides of the political aisle.

“This was extremely helpful in my development,” he said.

Latimer also felt that the time period was significant.

“Because of the day of the age, it was an environment where you really felt you had a dialogue about what was happening in the world today, and that sticks with me,” he said.

The men also recounted how Fordham’s collegiate environment had an effect on them. Astorino noted a connection between attending Fordham and getting involved in politics.

“I think what Fordham instills is to be the best you can be and to be active,” said Astorino. “That certainly was one of the reasons why I decided to be politically engaged.”

Furthermore, Latimer noted that going through the liberal arts education helped him look at a broader scope, such as societal issues and the role that government plays in society.

“Fifteen years later, when the opportunity came up to run for local public office, I certainly would say that the experience I went through at Fordham contributed to my thinking,” said Latimer.

Spano noted that the correlation between attending Fordham and serving as county executive is no coincidence. Many of the county executives are of Italian descent, and Fordham was an attractive choice for Italian immigrants, according to Spano.

“Fordham was there originally for immigrants,” he said.

Latimer also spoke on how the correlation is noteworthy.

“Fordham as an institution is a significant presence in the New York region,” he said. “It is a logical extension that people who went to Fordham and continue to live in this area would ultimately, in one field and endeavor or another, create achievement,” he said.

 

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Fordham Produces Five Westchester Execs