By Connor Beach
It has been just over a month since Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Huntington Station) won the special election for the vacant 10th district in the New York State Assembly. During that time, the former Suffolk County Legislator has adjusted quickly to his new surroundings and colleagues, he said.
On just his fourth day in office, Stern took part in the process of appointing a replacement for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned from the post amid allegations of assault from four women.
“My phone is going off and somebody tells me I have to be dressed and at the capital in 20 minutes for a conference meeting because we are starting to have our conversation on the process we are going to follow to appoint our new attorney general,” recalled Stern, whose headquarters is in Huntington.
The state legislature appointed Brooklyn Democrat and former Solicitor General Barbara Underwood to serve as acting attorney general until the November general election in a process that Stern described as open and transparent.
“It was open… no private meetings were held,” Stern said. “As a new member of the Assembly to have been part of that process was really a positive experience.”
Stern said he has also used his first month in office to make connections with many of his new colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
As opposed to the static nature of the 18-person Suffolk County Legislature, Stern said the 150 members of the state Assembly are constantly moving around the chamber.
“I’m the new guy getting a handle on things,” he said.
Stern added, “There are always conversations going on, there are always sidebar meetings… I find that I spend much of my day out of my seat walking over to my Republican colleagues on the other side to have those conversations.”
The freshman assemblyman is the first Democrat to represent the 10th district in nearly four decades, and Stern said being a member of the majority part does have some advantages.
Last week, Stern convinced Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) to visit Huntington where the two discussed some of Stern’s goals for his first year in office.
Stern said his immediate goals include protecting Huntington’s water quality, improving sewer infrastructure and supporting local law enforcement combat gangs.
Stern also said he has been working with Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-Northport) to discuss what can be done at the state level to support Huntington residents in the ongoing tax certiorari with LIPA. Although the Town of Huntington is currently fighting LIPA in court, Stern said they are looking at “what we can do legislatively” to assist taxpayers if the town were to “strike a deal.”
“We have to be proactive to make sure our taxpayers are protected,” Stern said.
Stern continues to work out of the New York Avenue office that now-Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci was based out of during his time with the assembly.
But he was headed for Albany on Wednesday, when he was scheduled to join some of his first meetings as a member of the state committees on aging, banks, economic development, energy, insurance and veterans’ affairs.
He said, “I’m there to be a strong voice for my neighbors in the 10th Assembly District, Suffolk County and Long Island.”