Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, the newly elected leader of the Senate Democrats, said on a public radio program Wednesday that she hopes her leadership will change the image of her conference—one that has been branded as dysfunctional.
“We’re at a crossroads, and we understood with all of our new members that we could actually start redirecting our conversation,” she said on Capitol Pressroom. “Perceptions, for whathever the reason, (that) we are this or that, would persist if we just continued along the same path.”
She replaces Sen. John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, who took over in 2009 after Republicans attempted a coup.
Stewart-Cousins said she did not know going into the vote Monday that Sampson would run against her for the post. He did, but she won 19-6.
“He had done an incredible job under really difficult circumstances,” she said.
She said she would soon announce who the deputy minority leader will be.
As for legislative priorities, she said raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 is a measure that will “make a difference for so many people.”
She said she would be open-minded and consider other proposals, but she wouldn’t want to see a weak bill pass.
“We need to push our progressive agenda forward,” she said. “We don’t want to say that we’re doing great things and find that they’re so incredibly watered down that they really aren’t hitting the mark.”
She said being the first woman to lead a legislative conference in Albany will prove to be “interesting and challenging.”
“But I am sure that the men in the leadership positions that I will be working with will be well aware of this historic moment and take full advantage of the attributes that I, as a woman, will bring to the table and to the negotiations.”