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Westchester salutes a county leader

As part of the annual Black History & Heritage Month celebration, Westchester legislators on Monday, March 11, saluted New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. The County Board of Legislators (BOL) honored State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins for her many achievements in elective office and beyond and her recent election as Democratic Conference Leader -- the first woman in New York State history to hold this important political position.

Reciting from James Weldon Johnson’s poem: “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (set to music by Johnson’s brother and also also known as “The African-American National Anthem”) County Board Vice Chairman Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon) paid tribute to Sen. Stewart Cousins thus: “… till now we stand at last... Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast,” and added: “For a decade, Sen.Stewart-Cousins served here on the County Board of Legislators where she was elected majority whip and later vice-chair.”

Before her election to the State Senate in 2006, Stewart-Cousins served 10 years in the County Legislature, representing the 17th Legislative District in Yonkers, which Jenkins now represents.

While on the Westchester Board of Legislators, she authored and pushed for approval of landmark legislation such as: Westchester’s first Human Rights Law, laws guaranteeing living wages and smoke-free workplaces, laws protecting residents against predatory lenders and providing tax cuts for seniors and veterans.

Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh) presented a proclamation to Stewart-Cousins, noting that the state senator is recognized as a strong advocate for: human rights, quality education, affordable health care and more efficient government.

Cousins also authored and pushed for approval of other landmark legislation, including:Westchester’s first human rights law, and laws guaranteeing living wages and smoke-free workplaces, protection of residents against predatory lenders and providing tax cuts for seniors and veterans.

Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) lauded Stewart-Cousins as “an African American whose public service, dedication and compassion serve as superb examples for all Americans,” adding that the state senator has been “a major influence on my career in public service,” and that, as the new Democratic Conference Leader in the New York State Senate she will “build the kind of bridges in state government over which progress and reform will travel.”

Cousins aptly responded: “It is indeed an honor to recognize the Westchester Board of Legislators as a place where the history we make are those that impact the good people of New York State.” She credits her time with the BOL for honing the much-needed negotiating skills to chart her course through and making a difference in her current position as Democratic Conference Leader.

The ceremony ended up with a spirited performance from the Antioch Baptist Church (from her district) under the leadership Dr. Paul DeRiggs, the pastor.

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