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No. 2 man in state Assembly to retire

The No. 2 man in the state Assembly announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of his term this year. Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari (D-Cohoes) said that after 24 years in the Assembly it was time to do something else.

“There’s a time to run and time to walk, and this is a time for me to walk,” Canestrari said at a news conference in Albany. The 68-year-old who previously served as Cohoes mayor said he wanted to travel and do volunteer work.

His retirement raised the question of who would replace him. Traditionally, when the No. 1 post in the Assembly (speaker), has come from downstate, the No. 2 post (majority leader) hails from upstate. Among other things, the majority leader runs proceedings on the Assembly floor.

Before Canestrari, the No. 2 post was held by Paul Tokasz of Buffalo and, before that, Michael Bragman of Syracuse.

So even though the No. 3 post in Assembly is currently held by Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), history alone would suggest she wouldn’t likely take Canestrari’s spot.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) praised Canestrari for “helping those most in need” over more than three decades of serving in state and local government.
Reflecting on the role of majority leader at a news conference Canestrari compared the job of making sure Democrats had enough votes to pass legislation to herding cattle.

“It’s critically important to make sure the floor runs efficiently and with a degree of decorum and respect and not excessive partisanship,” he said. “To a large extent with Republican cooperation, we’ve achieved that goal.”

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