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Politics and Government

Assembly speaker comes to Syracuse to try to bridge upstate-downstate divide

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie started his upstate tour Tuesday with a meeting and press conference with Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.

One of Albany’s so-called “three men in a room” is touring upstate New York to get a feel for the problems facing the area. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who along with State Senate Leader John Flanagan represent the legislature in budget negotiations with the governor, started his tour Tuesday in Syracuse

After a meeting with Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Heastie set off on a jam-packed schedule -- taking him to schools, a hospital and grocery stores. The Bronx Democrat, who replaced former Speaker Sheldon Silver earlier this year, says he wants to get past the traditional upstate-downstate divide that has dogged New York state politics for decades.

"When I ran for speaker, there was always this concern that we have a speaker from the city, that all we ever care about is the city of New York. So by doing this tour I want to make the statement to all the communities outside the city of New York that the Assembly Democratic Conference is going to care about all parts of the state.”

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
Heastie brought his daughter Taylor to Syracuse.

Miner and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli joined Heastie to discuss things like funding for the Centro bus system, education and Infrastructure in a brief meeting that kicked off the tour. Heastie says problems facing an urban center like Syracuse are the same ones facing his home district in the Bronx.  

Heastie will also visit Watertown and Fort Drum Wednesday and Utica Thursday. And he has plans for trips to western New York, the Southern Tier, as well as the Hudson Valley and Long Island later this summer.

Heastie has been speaker for about six months, winning the leadership post after longtime Speaker Sheldon Silver was forced to resign after being charged by the federal government with corruption.