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  • Writer's pictureTommy Zurhellen

Every Picture Tells a Story

Monday, August 21

Dear Friends: When I was younger, my Dad gave me some honest advice I still hold in my heart today. He said never count on being the smartest person in the room. Never count on being the most talented, the most charismatic, or the most creative either, because you probably won’t be. But you can always choose to be the hardest working person in the room. You can always be the person who shows up early and stays until the job is done. And that consistent work ethic will open doors for you that frankly, all those other qualities simply cannot. Always show up, he taught me. When you show up, good things will happen. On the campaign trail, I think I’ve used that advice from my father every single day as I work to earn your trust to become County Executive. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said, “I see you everywhere! How do you do it?” They are genuinely surprised to see me attending events all over Dutchess County, from Pine Plains to Pawling. It’s a huge compliment – but to me, it’s just that work ethic I learned from my Dad, all those years ago. I’d like you to take a good look at the photograph above. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? It’s a photo I took a few weeks ago outside Poughkeepsie City Hall after a meeting Pat Ryan convened with local leaders to finally address the lead pipe crisis in Poughkeepsie. He brought everyone together on that day, including the EPA as well as New York state health officials. It was powerful to see so many folks come together for a common cause. Study the photo for a moment. What’s wrong with this picture? First, let’s start by acknowledging what’s right. We see our Congressman Pat Ryan of course, leading the way. Starting on the left we see Megan Deichler, Nedra Thompson, and Yvonne Flowers representing the Common Council; we see Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson and current Poughkeepsie mayor Marc Nelson, too. All these folks are Democrats, by the way. Heck, we even see Rob Rolison, who was mayor of Poughkeepsie for eight years as the lead pipe problem persisted. (I guess it’s never too late to try to be part of the solution.) Wait a minute. Where in the world is our current County Executive? This photo marks such an important moment in protecting the health of our children. Where was Bill O’Neill, or any representative from his office, for that matter? Was every county employee too busy that day to stand with Pat Ryan to show cooperation and support? Was there a reason they didn’t want to be part of this historic moment? Your guess is as good as mine. One thing is clear, though. With the health of our kids at stake, our county leaders simply didn’t show up. Sadly, this is just one example of “business as usual” for our current county leadership. They conduct their business behind closed doors and then send out a press release later to tell the rest of us about it. I guess when you’ve been in charge of the county for 32 years, you lose touch with the people you’re supposed to be serving. You send out press releases instead of showing up. Back in May, I attended the Dutchess County Prayer Breakfast where former County Executive Marc Molinaro and current executive Bill O’Neill were the featured speakers. I listened as both men focused on the familiar story of the Good Samaritan during their comments. It’s the parable that shows kindness can come from unexpected places; while everyone else passes the man beaten by robbers, the Samaritan chooses to help. He’s the only one who shows kindness. He’s the only one who shows up. Two weeks after that breakfast where he preached the message of the Good Samaritan, what did our friend Bill O’Neill do? You remember. He put out a press release declaring a “state of emergency” in Dutchess County because some migrant workers might be staying at a local motel. Friends, I’m no Bible expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s the exact opposite of what the Good Samaritan would do. If every picture tells a story, then this one tells us Dutchess County deserves better. We deserve a County Executive who shows up and stands alongside our heroes Pat Ryan and Michelle Hinchey as true partners when they bring real progress to the Hudson Valley. We need more hard work and fewer press releases. We need more Good Samaritans who lead with kindness and fewer folks who never seem to practice what they preach. As your Dutchess County Executive, I will always show up. That’s not some campaign promise. It’s just who I am. Friends, we need you to show up, too! With only two months until the start of early voting, we need your support now to make sure we win this election because so much is at stake. Please consider a donation in any amount using the secure Act Blue link below. You can also donate in person at our next Team Tommy event this Saturday, August 26th from 9-11 am at the Eveready Diner in Hyde Park! We’ll have t-shirts and lawn signs for everyone, too, so please stop by and show your support this Saturday. Bring the kids! I look forward to seeing you there! Thank you to Pat Ryan as well as Common Council member Megan Deichler for your leadership in finally bringing real solutions to Poughkeepsie. And I don’t think I will be allowed to finish this letter without thanking my father for the lessons he tried to teach me as a younger man. Thanks, Dad! Finally, thank you for listening! Hope to see you in Hyde Park this Saturday! Respectfully, Tommy


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