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Heastie selects Buffalo pol for Assembly No. 2 post

  ALBANY -- As expected, Buffalo Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes has been named majority leader, the second-most powerful position in the Democrat-dominated chamber.

 Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) officially designated Peoples-Stokes on Monday -- making her the first woman to hold the job. She succeeds Rochester’s Joseph Morelle, who was elected to Congress in November.

 “Crystal is a trusted colleague who I have known for many years, and her experience and dedication to improving the lives of all New Yorkers is why I know she will make an ideal partner in leading the Assembly Majority,” Heastie said in a statement. “Crystal is widely respected by her colleagues and I am proud to appoint her as the next Majority Leader of the People’s House.”

 The Assembly speaker post has been held for decades by a downstate Democrat – who has typically chosen an upstate legislator for the No. 2 post in part to show regional balance. No other contenders besides Peoples-Stokes had been mentioned prominently.

 The 66-year-old Buffalo Democrat has served in the Assembly since 2003. She is the primary Assembly sponsor of a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in New York.

 The majority leader is responsible for running daily proceedings in the 150-member Assembly, setting the agenda for bills to be voted on and often leading the debate for the Democrats.

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