The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Greenpoint-Long Island City-Astoria-East Side Manhattan), to designate the Greenpoint Post Office as the “Joseph R. Lentol Post Office” after the well-known former Assemblymember.
Lentol, a Democrat like most Brooklyn elected officials, represented the 50th Assembly District, comprised of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Fort Greene and parts of Clinton Hill, for 48 years until he was defeated in the 2020 primary by Emily Gallagher. He currently serves on the board of the New York State Public Defenders Association.
Lentol comes from a political family — his father was State Senator and State Supreme Court Justice Edward S. Lentol. His grandfather also served in the Assembly. Before he was elected, Joe Lentol served as an assistant district attorney in Kings County. In 2001, he was elected as head of the Brooklyn Assembly Delegation.
He chaired the Committee on Criminal and Civil Codes, the New York City Community Action Board, the Assembly Public Protection Budget Committee, the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, the Assembly Administrative Regulations Commission to create the state’s open meetings laws, and the Committee on Governmental Employees, which oversees the State’s pension and employee benefits.
Additionally, he chaired the Assembly’s Committee on Governmental Operations, monitoring and overseeing the operations of state agencies and departments.
“Recognized for his leadership in correcting a system that unfairly penalized the youth, people of color and the economically-disadvantaged, Joe was largely responsible for getting important legislation enacted into law by working with six governors, his Democratic colleagues, and often members of the Republican majority in the State Senate,” said Rep. Maloney.
“Joe championed the reform of Rockefeller Drug Laws, which mandated harsh sentences for possession and sale of drugs and disproportionately targeted people of color.
“In addition, Joe fought to raise the age in criminal law when a child must be treated as an adult in the criminal justice system and for other major criminal justice reforms that overhauled the state’s criminal discovery and bail laws, and that guaranteed speedy trials,” she said.
During and after his last primary campaign, many political figures paid tribute to Lentol. Eric Radezky, a former Lentol staffer, wrote in an Eagle op-ed concerning the death penalty (which Lentol originally supported): Lentol was instrumental in abolishing it, not just once (voting to end the death penalty) but twice (using his chairpersonship to block an attempt to reinstitute it).” Lentol credited hearings in 2004 and 2005 with changing his mind on the issue.
Gallagher, his victorious opponent, said on Twitter, “Joe is beloved by many and I’m excited to see all the good work he will do as a community member. I have deep respect for him and those who love him, and I look forward to being his successor.”
“Naming a Post Office for Representative Joseph R. Lentol is entirely appropriate given his distinguished political career and contributions to New York State and country,” said Maloney. “I encourage all of my colleagues to support this bill.”