Editor's Note: This story first appeared in this month's issue of the Tremont Tribune, on the streets and online now.
|FILE PHOTO BY JAMES FERGUSSON|
His first battle? Tackling Gov. Cuomo’s proposed budget cuts, which take an axe to funding for state agencies and programs across the board in an attempt to reduce the state’s huge deficit.
“There’s going to be some uprising from the South Bronx, and the 79th District,” the new legislator said during a phone interview from Albany.
“He’s talking about $1.5 billion in cuts to education, and then $2.8 billion to Medicaid," Stevenson said. "What is that going to do to a district like mine? If I don’t stand up, what do my constituents say?”
Stevenson, whose 79th Assembly District includes East Tremont, parts of Bathgate, and large portions of the South Bronx, is no stranger to the neighborhood, or to the local political scene.
Before his Assembly run this summer, he was a Democratic district leader, and he’s worked for several legislators, including former Bronx borough presidents Fernando Ferrer and Adolfo Carrion and, most recently, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Stevenson’s family has political roots in the district: his father was also a district leader and his grandfather, Edward A. Stevenson Sr., was an assemblyman here.
Stevenson was sworn in at an inauguration ceremony at Morris High School in January. Since then, he’s been learning the ropes in Albany, where he’s been assigned to the Assembly’s committees on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Corrections, Government Operations, Veteran’s Affairs and Housing.
“I’ll accept it,” he said of his committee assignments. “It will allow me to do some work in my community, so it’s a start.”
His district office is at 1494 Boston Rd., the same one as his predecessor, former assemblyman Michael Benjamin, who abruptly announced last spring that he wouldn’t run for re-election in order to focus on a bid for Congress in 2012.
Stevenson and his fellow legislators will start negotiations on Cuomo’s budget this month.
“I know I’m a freshman, the new kid on the block,” he said. “But I’m being called out to the big fight. I guess my first fight is the big fight.”