Heastie to Be NY Assembly Speaker; Formal Vote on Tuesday

ALBANY (AP) -

Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, is poised to take over leadership of the New York state Assembly on Tuesday after the resignation of longtime speaker Sheldon Silver.

Heastie had faced as many as four other contenders, but his final opponent conceded Monday, and the Democrats who hold the Assembly majority nominated him with a unanimous vote.

The 47-year-old Heastie will become speaker as the Assembly heads into critical budget negotiations with the state Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The speakership is one of the most important positions in state government, with the power to set committee assignments and control which bills get votes and which ones languish.

“He’s a good man and he’ll do a good job,” Silver told reporters as he left the Capitol on Monday. Silver led the Assembly as speaker for 21 years.

In a statement, Heastie vowed to pursue a series of ethics reforms including a new Office of Ethics and Compliance led by a non-legislator, new limits on how much outside income lawmakers can earn, and greater reporting of outside income and legislative stipends.

“We must seize this opportunity for reform and enact the type of lasting change that will make the Assembly more open, transparent and accountable to the voters,” he said.

Cuomo on Monday suggested his own proposals to overhaul legislative ethics rules and said he wouldn’t sign a budget unless lawmakers take action.

Heastie will become the first African-American speaker.

The now-defunct Moreland Commission reviewed Heastie’s financial filings which showed thousands of dollars in bank and credit card payments for unspecified expenses.