Legislators Awarded with Distinguished Service Medals
L to R: Legislator Kitley S. Covill,
Vice-Chair Alfreda A. Williams, and Legislator Ruth Walter
On December 6, the Board of Legislators honored three outgoing legislators with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest recognition the Board can bestow on an individual who has significantly benefited the general welfare and common good of the County through dedicated public service.
Recipients were retiring legislators Vice-Chair Alfreda Williams and Kitley Covill, and Legislator Ruth Walter.
Williams (D – Elmsford, Greenburgh, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown) is the elder stateswoman of the Board, following in the footsteps of her mentor, the late Honorable Lois Bronz, who chaired the Board from 2002-2004.
During her 12-year tenure, Williams served as Chair of the Community Services committee for six years where she advocated for childcare funding and services, and for mental health clinic services. She was instrumental in passing the Source of Income Law and the Reproductive Health Law for Westchester residents.
In January 2016, she was elected to the leadership position of Majority Whip by her colleagues in the Democratic majority on the Board. From January 2018 to present, she served as the Board’s Vice-Chair and was appointed as a member of the following committees: Budget and Appropriations; Legislation; Rules; Labor and Housing; Social Services; Seniors, Youth and Intergenerational Services; and Appointments.
Chairman Ben Boykin (D-White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, “Alfreda has served with independence, dignity and determination in all of her roles, but clearly her passion has been for lifting people up, giving them access and the necessary tools to make their lives better for themselves and for their children…. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with this trailblazer.”
Legislator Kitley S. Covill (D-Bedford, Lewisboro, Mt. Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers), elected in 2017 and retiring after two terms, serves as Chair of the Legislation Committee. Her background as an Assistant District Attorney, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and a Special Assistant Attorney General was invaluable in this capacity. Covill was instrumental in revamping and updating the County Ethics Code, which passed as a proposition on the ballot in November. In addition, Covill played a major role in protecting public safety through her service on the County Police Board and the Board’s Public Safety Committee.
In presenting Legislator Covill with the medal and proclamation of Distinguished Service, Boykin said, “Your intellect, analytic mind, and no-nonsense approach are all the hallmarks of a legislator who gets things done, and you have won the respect and admiration of the entire Board … you have had a remarkable career utilizing your legal skills to protect and to defend.”
Legislator Ruth Walter (D-Bronxville, Yonkers) was elected in 2019. She served as Chair of the Appointments Committee, and of the Environment and Health Committee. As Chair of Environment and Health, she advocated for a cleaner and greener environment, COVID-19 vaccinations, and awareness of maternal health disparities. She authored legislation for noise detection cameras on County parkways, and senior fitness stations and fast-fill water bottle stations in County parks. She also worked with state lawmakers to get the ‘red flag notification bill’ signed into law which helps reduce gun access for those with mental health issues. In addition, she added support for local organizations to the budget, including groups focused on black maternal health, the Yonkers library and environmental organizations.
Boykin said, “In her one term here, Ruth has accomplished an enormous amount …I am so pleased to present you with this Distinguished Service Award because your public service has truly been exceptional. We know that you will continue to do great things for the community, and I have no doubt that whatever opportunity you decide to pursue, it will be an important one.”
The entire Board of Legislators sang the praises of each of their departing colleagues with heartfelt comments and anecdotes.