Photo credit: Will Waldron/Albany Times Union
On Monday, Senate Democrats gathered in Albany, New York to vote State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) into the role of Senate majority leader, making her the first woman elected to this position. Already, as a Democratic minority leader, Stewart-Cousins is the first Black lawmaker and the first woman to lead a state legislative conference, reports the New York Daily News.
In January, when she is officially placed into her new role, it will be the first time that both the Senate and the Assembly, which is run by Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx), will be led by African Americans.
“This is a historic moment,” The New York Post reports Democratic activist Brette McSweeney saying. “It cannot be overstated how historic and important it is to have a woman – a Black woman – at the table. It’s not three men in a room anymore.”
In the past, the state’s most important positions including the governor, the Senate majority leader and the Assembly speaker, were all held by men. Earlier this year, those positions faced a bit of a shakeup when former Majority Leaders Malcolm Smith and Dean Skelos, along with longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, were convicted of partaking in a corruption scandal.
State Sen. Shelley Mayer (D-Port Chester) says that Stewart-Cousins new appointment, combined with the recent outing of several problematic politicians, is proof that the New York government is headed towards a fresh start.
“I have incredible faith in Andrea’s integrity and her passion to doing the right thing and her commitment to public service,” says Mayer.
Stewart-Cousins was first elected to Senate in 2006, and then became a minority leader in 2013. In her newly-elected position, she vows to push for a lot of progressive legislation that were was once blocked by Republicans, who up until earlier this month, controlled the state government.
“Our conference will be a reflection in many ways of the state of New York, geographically, demographically, gender, so on and so forth,” she recently told the Daily News.