2017-02-17 / Top Stories

Official Point of View

“Swimming in history, bring your own snorkel”
By Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato

It has been just over a month since I took office and was given the opportunity to represent the 23rd Assembly District, which includes the Queens neighborhoods of Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Belle Harbor, Rockaway Park, Rockaway Beach, Arverne, Edgemere, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach and Far Rockaway.

Day 1, I dove right into being a public servant - but could I swim? Constituents need their sidewalks fixed; the NYPD needs new and better tools for solving crimes; and the QueensRail is being studied, but has yet to be approved. And in Albany, they don't leave your snorkel - or a pen, or paper - on your desk. You just have to start grabbing stuff and run with it. But if you jump in with both feet, so much work is there to do. Already, I've gotten to christen a new ferry terminal, to help spearhead the use of Familial DNA testing to solve cases like that of Karina Vetrano more quickly and accurately, and to work on the revitalization of downtown Far Rockaway.

In the coming weeks and months, we'll be making sure the ferry service opens up new possibilities for commerce and recreation; that Governor Cuomo's much-appreciated $10 billion improvements to JFK include single-seat transit to Manhattan via the QueensRail; that we defend our environment and our shoreline; that we fight for resources and support for public education; that we support our incredible first responders, who are central to this community like no other; and that we make improvements to how we care for veterans and the homeless, both here and throughout the city.

My mother, Audrey Pheffer, held this seat for 24 years. We are the first mother-daughter, same-seat pair in the history of the NYS Assembly. My mother mentored former Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, an incredible representative, who in turn mentored me. My mom was chair of the Consumer Affairs committee; Phil was a tireless advocate for the community and for transportation in South Queens.

Meanwhile, my mother and I are part of a larger legacy. On Nov. 6, 1917 - a century ago this year - women in New York State were given the right to vote. Nowadays, women make up the majority of the electorate - though not a majority of elected officials - and stories like mine and my mom's are possible. It's an honor to be a part of that unfolding story. It'll be a high priority for me to encourage young women, people of color, and others from historically overlooked communities to get involved in community leadership. If there's one lesson we've learned in the past hundred years, it's that the more of us are involved, the better the society we can build!

My goal is to live up to the decades of tireless constituent service, legislative advocacy and community problem solving that I inherited from my predecessors. This is an amazing community, like no other in the world. I was raised here. I'm raising my children here. The diverse, beautiful, uniquely challenged and uniquely warm place we call home deserves all the hard work, energy and vision we can muster. So far, we think we're off to a pretty great start - but we'd love to hear from you!

My number is 718-945-9550, or you can email me any time at amatos@ nyassembly.gov. I see this as the beginning of an exciting partnership to make all the progress we can, to fight for each other and to leave this community better than we found it. There's no one I'd rather be entering into that partnership with than you, my neighbors. Please let me know how I can help, what concerns you, and what your ideas are for the future. I think we're going to do great things together.

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