Assemb. Carl Heastie became the first African-American speaker of the New York State Assembly in history, elected by his colleagues Tuesday to replace Assemb. Sheldon Silver.
Heastie (D-Bronx), 47, said “Wow” twice as he ascended to the rostrum overlooking the historic Assembly chamber after a party-line vote to install him. Democrats outnumber Republicans, 106-44, in the chamber.
Taking over a post called “Speaker,” Heastie acknowledged, “I’m known as a man of few words” and said, “This will be the longest speech I’ve ever given.”
He repeated his promise, first announced a few days before the vote, to push for reforms on legislative pay and per diems, and allow rank-and-file legislators more say in the Assembly agenda.
Silver (D-Manhattan) was forced to resign by his colleagues after being arrested on five federal counts of corruption. He served 21 years as speaker, falling just shy of taking the record away from Oswald D. Heck, a Schenectady Republican who led the chamber from 1937-59.