Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie: Good on Street Safety, Iffy on Transit

For the first time in two decades, the New York State Assembly has a new speaker. Assembly Democrats elected Carl Heastie of the Bronx to succeed longtime speaker Sheldon Silver, a week after Silver was indicted on federal corruption charges.

Photo: @CarlHeastie
Photo: @CarlHeastie

Until a few days ago, Heastie wasn’t all that well-known outside the Bronx, where he is the Democratic party leader. While we don’t know much about his stance on transportation policy, he does have a voting record on street safety and transit issues.

Here’s a rundown.

As for changing the pay-to-play culture in Albany and reforming the “democracy of one” system that empowers the speaker at the expense of rank-and-file legislators and shrouds the Assembly in secrecy, Heastie is an unlikely candidate to shake things up.

Heastie raised eyebrows in 2013 when he introduced a bill legalizing predatory payday loans after receiving $10,000 in campaign contributions from the check-cashing industry. And not only did Silver vote for Heastie today, he appeared at the Monday closed-door meeting where Heastie’s ascension actually took place, and endorsed him. “He’s a good man and he’ll do a good job,” Silver said.

That means Rochester representative David Gantt, Silver’s gatekeeper for legislation on the transportation committee, probably isn’t going to lose his chairmanship.

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