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A Warm Welcome for Former County Exec. Bondi

It was a packed house – or foyer – as former Putnam County Executive Bob Bondi, right, was honored by current County Executive Kevin Byrne, center, during a Feb. 20 ceremony at the County Office Building in Carmel.

A plaque honoring Bob Bondi, who served as county executive from 1991 to 2010, is now on display in the County Office Building in Carmel.

By Holly Crocco 

Thirty-three years after he was first sworn into office as the third Putnam County executive, and 13 years after leaving office, Bob Bondi was honored with a plaque and a celebratory gathering Feb. 20 in the County Office Building in Carmel.

Many county government employees and elected officials past and present welcomed former County Executive Bondi during his visit, which included a tour of county facilities, followed by a plaque unveiling ceremony. The plaque commemorates Bondi’s 30-plus years of service in elected office to Putnam County, including 20 years as county executive.

“Bob, Putnam County wouldn’t be Putnam County the way it is today if it wasn’t for you,” said former Legislator Dan Birmingham, who served as a deputy county executive during Bondi’s reign. “You changed the way we think about government.”

Bondi served on the first Putnam County Legislature to assemble after the Board of Supervisors was dissolved, in 1979, and was its first chairman. He was a legislator for 11 years before being elected county executive in 1990.

“He led us through some tough economic times,” said Birmingham, who noted that Bondi not only shaped the county’s economy, but its workforce. “Working here in Putnam County was like working with a family when Bob was here, and that feeling has continued.”

Former Carmel Town Supervisor Frank DelCampo, who also served as a deputy county executive under Bondi, said the community is lucky Bondi had the foresight to negotiate the preservation of Tilly Foster Farm.  

“He had the innovation and the smarts to know that deals could be made if you’re truthful and you’re straightforward and you’re honest about what you’re trying to do,” said DelCampo. “He did the same with the golf course.”

John Tully, another deputy county executive in the Bondi administration, said the longtime leader always thought about his constituents.

“Bob is a man that, as long as I’ve known him – either as deputy or a department head or colleague working for him, or as a friend – Bob always instilled mission, vision and what was in the best interest of the citizens of Putnam County, and doing his best to always maintain fiscal conservatism,” said Tully.

Former Sheriff Donald Smith Jr. was another deputy who served under Bondi.

“Bob is a man of high integrity and I saw it each and every day,” he said in a video message. “He did not take disagreement as disloyalty. Disloyalty would be to have an idea and not share it with the team.”

Former County Executive Paul Eldridge, who was appointed to serve one year in office immediately following Bondi’s departure, said he’s always looked up to the former county executive.

“I continue to admire you, Bob, and you were wonderful for this county,” said Eldridge. “I’m particularly happy about the fact that Tilly Foster Farm was preserved. That could have been condos and it would have been single-family houses, and Bob had the foresight to save it and have it for generations to come.”

In addition to his political career, Bondi was also a longtime member of the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department.

“Bob not only helped people in the grand scale of things, but he also got on the street,” said MVFD Chief Gabriel Rivera.

“Bob Bondi is a wealth of knowledge that I have the good fortune of being able to draw from,” added current Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne. “I have already sought his advice several times since taking office. Spending the day with him and then honoring his service with this plaque was truly a privilege. He’s an honorable and an incredible public servant. It’s, in part, because of his commitment and work that Putnam County is the great place it is today.”

Prior to the ceremony, Byrne drove his predecessor to tour a number of county facilities that Bondi had not visited since his last year of service in 2010. This included a walkthrough of the County Office Building, the Putnam County Golf Course, Tilly Foster Farm & Educational Institute and the Bureau of Emergency Services.

Bondi thanked all the elected officials who served before him, alongside him, and after him – as well as all the departmental employees.

“Over the years I had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people, and that includes 500-plus rank-and-file employees of the county,” he said. “They are the ones that actually did all the work. We would pass resolutions and make policy, and they would do the work.”

The plaque that now hangs in the County Office Building had been acquired by the county more than a decade ago but had never been put out for public display. Byrne highlighted his desire to hang the plaque in a place of honor during his State of the County address in 2023.

“I deeply appreciate every single person who came out today,” said Bondi. “I really didn’t know if anyone would show up. It’s been a long time. I have a lot of great memories working with so many people in this room, and it’s an honor to see all of you here, and to have worked with you on behalf of the residents of Putnam County.”

Bondi currently resides in Stueben County, where he owns and operates an organic dairy farm with his wife, Mary Lou, and their son Matt.


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