MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino treated four score and seven lucky Facebook followers to a showing Tuesday of “Lincoln,” a film based on the life of one of his American heroes.
At the event celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s 204th birthday, professional impersonator Michael Griest of Peekskill played the part of the 16th president, posing with the winners before the film at Clearview's Mt. Kisco Cinema.
“[The Facebook contest] was a good use of social media," said Astorino, a Republican, and a great way to thank the 5017 people who liked his page, along with his 2,085 Twitter followers. Social media has been instrumental in his political career, Astorino said, citing his big upset of Democrat Andy Spano in 2009 in the campaign for county executive.
Social media comes in handy during election years, of which 2013 is one. "It’s really a perfect way to respond or to get information to people,” Astorino said. His administration uses social media to answer Westchester residents' questions and obtain their feedback.
Astorino said he reads all of his Facebook comments nightly and responds to as many as he can.
In a brief speech before the film, Astorino named two men as his two historical heroes: Benjamin Franklin, an inventor, a diplomat, patriot and one of America's Founding Fathers; and Lincoln, whose moral character and principled leadership helped him to preserve the union and end a bloody Civil War, uniting the country and abolishing slavery.
"Lincoln stood by his principles,” said Astorino, who keeps a bust of the president on his desk. “He saw a right and a wrong and he did something about it, and ultimately, he gave his life for them.
"I think we need a little bit more of that in politics today," he added.
New Jersey residents Gary and Paula Sella were two of those who won tickets to see the Steven Spielberg-directed biopic starring Daniel Day Lewis. Paula Sella grew up in Thornwood, a hamlet of Mount Pleasant, and went to Westlake High School with Astorino. It was no surprise that he got into politics, she said.
Astorino, who still lives in Mount Pleasant, was in the student council, she said. "He was friends with all different kinds of kids. He had this kind of personality," she said. “It's good to support him when I can.”
The Friends of Rob Astorino fundraising group sponsored the event.