BDE: Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

sheldon silver
Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a”h. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver passed away Monday afternoon at the age of 77, after having been hospitalized for several weeks.

Silver, a shomer Shabbos Democrat who represented a district in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was elected to the Assembly in 1976, and served as speaker from 1994 to 2015.

In all, Silver served as speaker during the tenure of five New York governors, from Mario Cuomo to Andrew Cuomo.

He helped scuttle former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s plan to locate a football stadium on Manhattan’s West Side. And he blocked Bloomberg’s 2008 congestion-pricing plan for Manhattan, which would have charged electronic tolls for driving through the borough’s most highly trafficked neighborhoods.

Silver survived an early tenure coup attempt and became adept at horse-trading to secure education funding, tenants rights legislation and other policies favored by Assembly Democrats.

“For more than two decades, he held back a tide of repressive legislation while advancing an agenda that provided equity, justice and opportunity for all,” Democratic Assembly member Kevin Cahill of the Hudson Valley said in a prepared statement.


Sheldon Silver was the youngest of four children of Russian immigrants. His father ran a wholesale hardware store. As an adult, he and his wife had four children and lived in an apartment blocks from his first home.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School.

Assemblyman Carl Heastie, who replaced Silver as speaker in 2015, said in a statement: “I am saddened to learn of the passing of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. He was a fighter for his constituents and his work to rebuild lower Manhattan after the terrible events of 9/11 will never be forgotten. I will remember Shelly for his many legislative accomplishments. For years he was the lone voice in the room pushing back against many regressive policies that would have harmed so many New Yorkers, and he presided over landmark laws to improve the lives of our most vulnerable residents.

“My heart goes out to his wife, Rosa, and his children, grandchildren and many friends during this difficult time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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