In 2018 Black women are still breaking ceilings, and on Monday that became true yet again, particularly for Andrew Stewart-Cousins, who was voted to become the Senate Democratic Leader in the New York State Legislature.
The vote locked Stewart-Cousins as as the first woman and the first Black woman to lead a majority conference in the state legislature, the Albany Bureau reports. Democrats gained majority of the state Senate after winning eight seats on Election Day and securing the majority with 39 members out of the 63-seat chamber.
Stewart-Cousins, who represents Yonkers, will start her duties as majority leader on Jan. 1.
“We’re excited because we know in January people will get finally the government they have been voting for for so many years,” Stewart-Cousins told reporters, according to the news site. “We are looking forward to not only serving the people of New York, but doing it with the type of attention and integrity and intelligence they expect from us and deserve.”
Republicans have promised to work with the new majority leader, with Senate GOP Leader John Flanagan of Suffolk County calling her a “class act and a truly extraordinary person.”
Stewart-Cousins is also looked to as the person that will break the normal order of things in Albany, which has long been scrutinized for having three men – the governor, the Assembly speaker and the Senate majority leader – negotiating matters of important legislation, including state budgets, behind closed doors, the Bureau notes.
Now as the first female leader, she and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who is also black, are expected to add diversity to that room.