Power is shifting in the New York State Senate. Leaders are being chosen and priorities are being aligned.
“Look, I have been clear from the beginning that I think that John possesses the qualities that a good leader needs,” Sen. Fred Akshar said.
Sen. Akshar broke away slightly from the rest of the Upstate republican senators when he voted for John Flanagan, of Long Island, to be minority leader. A few were pushing for Sen. Catherine Young in order to have an upstate voice in a leadership role. But Akshar remained adamant in his support for Flanagan.
“When the people that I so proudly represent need something in the Southern Tier, I bring it back to the leader, and it’s vetted through the appropriate channels,” Akshar said. “I’m able to produce for the people that I represent and that’s incredibly important for me.”
While there is talk of Sen. Akshar being the possible pick for Deputy Senate Minority Leader, there is still a lack of upstate leadership, according to Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.
“Are you worried upstate is going to lose its voice at all?” NEWS10 ABC Capitol Correspondent Morgan McKay asked.
“Not if it’s up to me and the members in our conference,” Kolb responded. “I am the only upstate legislative leader. I’ve been the only upstate legislative leader.”
Even though there is still an upstate voice lacking in the budget negotiation room, Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins will be breaking down other barriers by bringing diversity and a female voice into a world that has been mostly dominated by men.
But Kolb said he hopes that Stewart-Cousins will still seek the same transparency in the room as she was seeking while she was outside of it.
“Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the new majority leader in the Senate, was screaming and hollering and doing press conferences when she was in there,” he said. “Well, now she should be advocating for John Flanagan to be in there as well as myself with Carl Heastie and the Governor.”
So many are curious as to what Stewart-Cousins will do next. But she has made it clear things will progress carefully.
“Right now I’m not going in intent on changing anything other than the fact that there will not be three men in the room only,” she said.
The Assembly Majority will most likely be picking Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie as their Democratic Majority Leader later in December.