Community Swearing In and Celebration Will Mark Crystal Peoples-Stokes HistoricAppointment as New York State’s First Female and African American Assembly Majority Leader

Wednesday, January 9 the 242nd legislative session started in monumental fashion as the Assembly alerted the Governor’s office that it was ready to conduct business for 2019.

Speaker Carl Heastie appointed three women to key leadership positions including Buffalo’s own Crystal Peoples-Stokes as the Majority Leader, the second most powerful position in the house and making her the first woman and first African American to hold this position in the state’s long and storied history.

A chartered bus from Buffalo brought family members, close friends and staff to Albany to witness this momentous occasion.

Affectionately referred to as The People’s Choice, Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes will have a local swearing-in ceremony to commemorate her historical appointment and ascension to Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will be in attendance. The event was held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16 at Buffalo’s True Bethel Baptist Church, located at 907 East Ferry Street. The event was free and open to the public.

At the Albany, N.Y. swearing in Majority Leader Peoples-
Stokes quoted Susan B. Anthony, a leader of New York’s Women’s Suffrage movement adding, when women get together, “failure is impossible!” This year 70 women are currently serving in the New York State Legislature, the most in the state’s history.

Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Speaker Carl Heastie stand next to each other as all Assembly Members are sworn in for their new term. Photo courtesy of Blanc Photographie

The Majority Leader’s main responsibilities include running Assembly Chamber legislative floor proceedings on a daily basis, helping to set the conference agenda and priorities, and managing members of the Assembly Majority Conference. She will act as a main liaison between Speaker Heastie and the 107 Democrats in the Assembly.

Peoples-Stokes, a founding member of the Grassroots organization, began her political career as a community worker and organizer for Citizen Action, a public policy advocacy group. Although referred to as a former “rabble-rouser” in one local media account, stirring up prejudicial passions among citizens was never her style. She was a smooth, focused, knowledgeable, articulate operator; a consensus builder even then, who loved her community, worked hard and knew how to get things done; characteristics which got her where she is today and will take her even further should that be her desire in the future.

In 2000, as member of Grassroots and the majority leader of the Erie County Legislature, she ran against powerful incumbent Deputy Speaker Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve. Although she was unsuccessful, the race was described by The New York Times as the toughest election contest of Eve’s political career and her Democratic primary election challenge was credited with energizing minority voters to elect Byron Brown as a New York State Senator.

Peoples was eventually elected to the State Assembly in November 2002, after Eve’s retirement. She ran uncontested in the November 2008 and November 2010 general elections.

This past December 2018 she was appointed to the historic position of Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly. As Crystal would say, “To God Be The Glory!”