Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou invited reporters to her temporary district office near City Hall last week, where a Lower East Side rabbi offered a blessing and a few general words of encouragement.
Niou was elected to office in the 65th Assembly District in November. It’s obviously a big transition for her and for Lower Manhattan residents who had been represented by Sheldon Silver since the 1970s.
She’s looking for a permanent office that will make it easier for constituents to visit. The municipal building at 250 Broadway, where Niou is now working, is a high-security fortress. Rabbi Schmuel Spiegel of the First Roumanian American Congregation told the assemblywoman during the afternoon meet-and-greet, “I’m really proud to have you in the Assembly.”
“It’s a diverse neighborhood and I really feel you are the person who will represent everyone,” said the rabbi. “People really feel that.”
Niou took a few minutes to answer questions from reporters. She mentioned her first piece of legislation, the Rivington Act, which is being proposed along with State Sen. Daniel Squadron. It’s meant to create a transparent public process anytime a nursing home is under threat of closing. The legislation has attracted multiple co-sponsors. Niou said Community Board 3 had been very helpful in crafting the wording of the bill.
As for Governor Cuomo’s budget, Niou noted that she and fellow Democrats in Albany have a lot of issues with funding levels for social services. Niou has already been speaking out for more school funding. At her recent inauguration, said Niou, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie acknowledged that the district is undergoing a major transition. Under Speaker Sheldon Silver, money flowed into downtown neighborhoods. Now the district, represented by a freshman lawmaker, enjoys little clout. But Niou said Heastie is “very conscious of it,” and has agreed to support the 65th AD in any way he can. One early priority, she said, is a budget request for the Lower East Side’s settlement houses (she’s teaming up with Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh to make the request).
Niou is planning to host “mobile district office” events in neighborhoods across Lower Manhattan, beginning with the Lower East Side. A date and location have not yet been made public.
In the meantime, you can call her office at 212-312-1420.