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Former Westchester County executive O’Rourke dies

WHITE PLAINS – Former Westchester County Executive Andrew O’Rourke died Thursday. He was 79.

Prior to serving in the county’s top spot, O’Rourke was a Yonkers councilman and a county legislator. He later went on to become a State Supreme Court justice.

Current County Executive Robert Astorino said that O’Rourke, a fellow Republican, “left his mark on our county.”

Among O’Rourke’s accomplishments, Astorino said, were pushing for the Westchester County Center, development of a terminal at the county airport, and the county’s north and south county trailways.

O’Rourke named Astorino to the county Board of Ethics in 1995 and he volunteered on his campaigns for county executive and governor. Astorino said after he was elected county executive but before he took office, he sought O’Rourke’s advice and insight.

His advice was that Astorino would have to make some tough decisions, but he should make them, the county executive reflected. O’Rourke told him he was not there to run a popularity contest, but rather to do a job.

“That was good advice and what I follow all the time,” Astorino said.

Board of Legislators’ Chairman Kenneth Jenkins said county residents “were truly fortunate to have been led by such a wise and visionary public servant for so many years.”

Republican County Legislature Minority Leader James Maisano said O’Rourke’s “actions and commitment to this county were directly responsible for dramatic improvements” to Westchester.

Former Governor George Pataki said O’Rourke “brought excellence and integrity to all he did in public life.”

Astorino has directed all flags at county property to be flown at half-staff in O’Rourke’s memory.