ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Carl Heastie was elected speaker of the New York state Assembly on Tuesday, making him the first African-American to hold the powerful position.
Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, succeeds Sheldon Silver who resigned after being charged with allegedly taking nearly $4 million in payoffs and kickbacks.
After the vote Tuesday, Heastie repeated his promise to make ethics overhaul a priority.
“We will change the cynicism into trust,” he said. “Our state deserves a government as good as its people.”
The speaker is considered one of the most important positions in state government. Heastie will direct the flow of legislation, set committee assignments and direct budget negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Republican-controlled state Senate.
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle said his heart “was filled with joy” to know that Tuesday would go down in history as the day the Assembly picked its first African-American speaker.