Making history, Assemblymember Felix Ortiz has been appointed as an assistant speaker of the New York State Assembly by Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx.
“To be assistant speaker is a great honor. This is the first time a Hispanic ever has held a high-level leadership role in the Assembly,” Ortiz told The Home Reporter. “This is going to help us have a bigger voice within not just the budget process but with transparency.”
Ortiz, who has served in the Assembly for 20 years, counts among his achievements passing landmark legislation in the areas of worker rights and safety, obesity prevention and banning cell phone use while driving. He has also worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on obesity prevention measures that were added to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
However, Ortiz isn’t content with his past accomplishments and looks forward to getting more done in his new role. “I see we need to deal with transparency; we need to deal with ethics and campaign reform. Those are three main issues I’ve been fighting since I got elected.”
Ortiz has served as chair of several committees and legislative task forces including Cities, Veterans Affairs, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Food, Farm and Nutrition and the Legislature’s Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force. He also chaired the first Subcommittee on Sweatshops to address the unscrupulous practices prevalent in sweatshops at that time.
Looking ahead, Ortiz hopes to coach some of the newer politicians. “I want to make sure that new members that get elected will have a mentor. Things have to be done the right way,” he said. “I hope my knowledge, experience and leadership will help them.”
Back in the district, Ortiz remains committed to the Sunset Park community. He recently attended a community forum entitled Step Up, Speak Up at which residents were able to discuss their concerns with Ortiz and newly elected State Senator Jesse Hamilton. “We’re going to have many meetings and discuss different issues and we are looking forward to your input,” said Ortiz. “We want to make sure every time we come together, we have a consensus to bring the best to the community.
“We want to continue to serve the working class people of the state of New York and move the working class forward,” he added.
Heastie was elected to the post of speaker on the resignation of former Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is under indictment.