The New York state Senate will be led by a woman for the first time in the state’s history after Democrats formally chose veteran lawmaker Andrea Stewart-Cousins as their leader Monday.
Stewart-Cousins has led the Senate’s Democratic minority since 2012 and is now poised to control the entire chamber beginning in January after her party won a majority in this month’s election.
Democrats already have an overwhelming majority of seats in the state Assembly. They also occupy all four statewide offices. Now that they control the Senate, Democrats are predicting fresh momentum for proposals that would legalize recreational marijuana, codify abortion rights, strengthen gun control laws and reform the state’s antiquated voting laws. Many of those ideas had been blocked by the Republicans who previously led the Senate.
“Come January all that will change,” Stewart-Cousins told reporters following Monday’s leadership vote. “I think people have waited a long time.”