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New Dutchess County Executive O'Neil highlights faith at swearing-in

William O'Neil is sworn in as Dutchess County Executive
Dutchess County government livestream/WAMC screenshot
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William O'Neil is sworn in as Dutchess County Executive

William O’Neil has been sworn in as the new Dutchess County Executive.

Longtime Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro named O’Neil his deputy more than a decade ago.  

Now, with Molinaro part of the new Republican class in Congress from New York’s 19th district, O’Neil was sworn in Tuesday to serve the rest of the year — the remainder of Molinaro’s third term.  

O’Neil has worked in Dutchess County government since 2005 after a career in the healthcare software industry.  

He says his job now is to continue programs and priorities begun during the Molinaro administration.  

O’Neil took the oath of office at Calvary Chapel of the Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, and his faith was front and center in his remarks.  

“It was suggested to me that having my swearing-in in my church might be frowned upon. You know, that old separation of church and state thing,” O’Neil said. “Of course, we conduct the swearing-in by placing the hand on the Bible. But the politically correct thing to do is steer away from any connection between the two. Well, I find that my spiritual beliefs and my public service are explicitly intertwined. And I think that's emphasized by the final statement that you make in the oath, which is ‘so help me God.’ Now, I've told my story to many of you, so I won't provide the long version. But 25 years ago, I surrendered my life to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And my life changed.”

As for the state side of church and state, O’Neil didn’t talk much about policy. But he told attendees his job is to carry the mantle for Dutchess County.  

“Now, 2023 will be a transition year, I will be a caretaker in a lot of ways,” he said. “And I'm looking to finish some of the great projects we have started, kicking off some of the new initiatives, but mainly being highly productive in delivering core government services and programs, which county residents need, making us more efficient in the routine services,” he said. “And then hopefully, I'll help the next county executive to seamlessly move into the role with minimum disruption to the formula that has proven so successful for the past 11 years, as well as the 20 years prior.”

For his part, Molinaro praised O’Neil during a farewell address in December.  

“I couldn't be happier that my trusted friend and longtime deputy county executive Bill O'Neil will assume this role,” Molinaro said. “Bill's decades of experience and passion will for this community will serve you well. I know in the coming year he will continue our work but also work to leave his own lasting legacy.”

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.