State Sen. Anna Kaplan promised to be a voice for District 7 as she was sworn in late Sunday afternoon at Clinton G. Martin Park, with high-ranking Democrats praising her tenacity and empathy while casting her as the ideal fighter for Long Island.
Kaplan, who will be chairing the state’s Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee, said she is grateful to have the opportunity to give voice to district residents like single mothers working two jobs, business owners fighting to maintain their downtowns, and students “tired of excuses on why we can’t pass sensible gun control legislation.”
“The promise of our great nation is that anyone can succeed if they are given opportunity, if they are given a voice,” Kaplan said. “And that is why I ran for this office: to give a voice for those in our district who have been ignored for far too long.”
Kaplan, a Kensington resident, most recently served as a North Hempstead councilwoman representing parts of Great Neck, Manhasset, and Roslyn from 2011 to 2018. Prior to that, she was on town’s Board of Zoning Appeals and a trustee on the Great Neck Library Board.
But what most speakers touched on was Kaplan’s beginnings in the United States, which she came to alone as a 13-year-old refugee fleeing the Iranian Revolution 40 years ago, and her determination since then.
“I have often tried to imagine the bravery it took for Anna to get on that plane at 13 years old, leaving her family behind, landing in a strange country,” Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. “So no one should ever doubt that Anna Kaplan has the courage and determination to serve in the New York State Senate and get things accomplished.”
“She’s looked fear in the eye before and told it, ‘Get out of my way,’ Bosworth continued. “And I think that early chapter of her life speaks volumes about what Anna Kaplan is made of and what she will fight for as representative as the state Senate 7th district. She will fight for the powerless, for the less fortunate, for the newly arrived immigrant, for anyone who feels disenfranchised from the American Dream, because she has walked in their shoes.”
Kaplan comes to the state Senate at a historic moment for both Long Island and the state. Not only are there six Democrats in the Long Island’s nine-person delegation, but 40 Democrats – 39 of them caucusing together – in the 63-seat chamber.
Republicans had held the majority in the New York State Senate for all but three years since World War II – including a narrow 32-31 majority before the 2018 election. Now, the Democrats fully control all branches of New York State government.
As if to underscore the importance to Democrats, Kaplan’s inauguration was attended by several prominent Democrats.
In addition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Bosworth, officials like state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli of Great Neck, Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, New York State Deputy Minority Leader Mike Gianaris, and both Suffolk and Nassau County executives attended.
Cuomo, who swore in Kaplan, said this will translate to reform of the areas of reproductive health, voting, and gun control measures statewide.
Long Island will also see more economic development than “the state of New York has ever done” there, growth of the Long Island Rail Road, a continued property tax cap, and a lower tax burden, Cuomo said.
“This is all garbage that the Long Island delegation is going to get sucked in by the New York City delegation and they’re not going to fight for Long Island,” Cuomo said. “These are some tough people. Anna is tough – nice, but tough.”
“No one is going to roll over Anna Kaplan,” he added. “She’s going to serve the people of Long Island.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran described Kaplan’s election as a moment of firsts. She was the first political refugee and Iranian immigrant elected to the state Senate, she said, as well as the first New York candidate endorsed by Barack Obama.
Curran said she “can’t wait” to work with Kaplan and her colleagues on a variety of issues, including the development of the Belmont arena.
“There are real opportunities for Belmont in terms of job creation and economic development, growing the tax base and of course bringing back the Islanders,” Curran said, noting their six game winning streak, “while engaging the surrounding communities on a plan that works for all stakeholders.”
“It’ll be a challenge but I know that Anna is up for it,” Curran added.
The legislative session begins on Wednesday.