CSEA endorses Neuhaus for re-election

The union representing roughly 1,500 Orange County government workers endorsed County Executive Steve Neuhaus for re-election and praised him this week, burying their feud over Neuhaus’ effort to privatize the county nursing home after taking office in 2014.

The Civil Service Employees Association announced its endorsement on Monday with complimentary statements from three CSEA leaders, including a regional president and the heads of one CSEA unit representing county employees and another representing municipal and school district workers in Orange. The press release made sure to mention that Rosemarie Kukys, president of the county employees’ CSEA unit, is a registered nurse at the county-owned Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation – the 360-bed home that Neuhaus proposed to sell.

“Steve has had an open door policy over the past four years, which has allowed us to work together on problem-solving, and finding solutions that are acceptable to the workforce and taxpayers,” Kukys said. “We appreciate that he understands that everyone benefits when the union and management can work together.”

Neuhaus, a Republican, is running for a second, four-year term on Nov. 7, challenged by Democrat Patrick Davis, a Iraq War veteran and financial consultant who is making his first foray into politics.

The CSEA, the largest of the various unions representing county employees, had endorsed Neuhaus’ Democratic opponent, Roxanne Donnery, in 2013, following her outspoken resistance to attempts by Neuhaus’ predecessor, Ed Diana, to sell Valley View. The CSEA clashed with Neuhaus after he took up the privatization cause in 2014, and sued the county after lawmakers agreed to transfer Valley View to a local development corporation in preparation for sale. A separate lawsuit by attorney Michael Sussman later voided that transfer and effectively stopped the push to sell the home.

Valley View, once depicted as a cost drain for the county with mounting deficits, turned a $7 million profit in 2016.

Despite the heated conflict over Valley View, CSEA settled protracted contract negotiations with county officials in 2015, a carryover from the Diana administration, and evidently has set aside the early rift.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of CSEA,” Neuhaus said in press releases from the CSEA and his own campaign.  “I am very pleased that we have been able to both reduce spending and settle all union contracts.  Fairness to residents, taxpayers, and our workforce is important.”

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    Chris McKenna

    Chris McKenna covers Orange County government and politics for the Times Herald-Record. He has been a reporter at the newspaper since 1999. Read Full

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