One of the duties of the Westchester County Executive, as outlined by the Westchester County Charter, is to “communicate to the County Board, at least once a year, a general statement of the finances, government and affairs of the county with a summary statement of the activities of the several departments and officers of the county.” Known popularly today as the “State of the County” address, these annual messages of the County Executives’ date back to when Westchester’s first County Executive William Bleakley addressed the County Board of Supervisors in January 1940 to report on the first full year of his administration. [Bleakley also addressed the Board of Supervisors in January 1939, but no text, only newspaper coverage, exists for that speech. However, as Bleakley had only recently been elected (in November 1938), it was more forward looking in content.]
Given the broad requirements set out by the County Charter for the content of the annual address, the subjects covered by each year’s message are quite wide-ranging, and can sometimes become a “laundry list” of happenings in the County government in the preceding year. At other times, however, certain issues are quite unique to the times in which the addresses were presented, such as the discussions of wartime preparations and civil defense in the annual messages made during the Second World War.
Indexing Status: Currently, the twenty-one years (1940-1961) are available for this collection and all are full-text searchable. Primary topics covered by the annual addresses for these years include finances and budgets, the activities of the Department of Public Welfare, parks (including Playland) and parkways; legislation, taxes, and the work of the Planning Department and related development in Westchester County.