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Monday, December 5, 2022
Home Government Q&A with Steve Otis, Candidate for State Assembly 91st District

Q&A with Steve Otis, Candidate for State Assembly 91st District

Today we are pleased to present the MyRye.com Q&A with State Assembly candidate Steve Otis. The incumbent, Otis is running against challenger Meg Cameron in the June 23rd Democratic primary race.

You can submit an absentee ballot for the June 23rd primary election. All voters should have received an absentee ballot application in the mail (see here if you need further information). There will be in person voting options but it appears locations have not been announced – you should call the Westchester Board of Elections.

Don’t get confused with the Rye School budget and board of education candidates vote (learn more about the school budget and read the MyRye.com interviews with the seven candidates running for the two board of education positions). Actual ballots for this election have been mailed automatically to Rye voters and should be arriving Wednesday / Thursday to homes. These ballots must be received in the school district offices by 5pm on June 9, 2020.

Here is the interview with State Assembly candidate Steve Otis:

Steve Otis Rye, NY State Assembly 91 Race 2020

Your Name: Steve Otis

MyRye.com: Why are you running for State Assembly District 91? 

I am running for re-election on my record of solid performance and effectiveness as an Assemblyman delivering results in every aspect of the job.

My goal is to continue to deliver strong results on issues of importance to every community and school district I represent and on statewide issues, such as the creation of a new clean water grant program for municipalities, the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, which has awarded almost $1.2 billion in grants to local governments, reducing property taxes and making clean water projects a reality.

I also want to continue my strong record of successful passage of legislation: passing a majority of my prime sponsored bills, a rarity among legislators, passing 13 of 14 in 2019 and originating and passing new laws on statewide issues.

What are the three most important ways State government can help the City of Rye?

  1. State assistance on infrastructure projects to relieve burdens on property taxes. I have provided these opportunities in a number of programs I have been involved with including clean water, assistance to libraries and emergency management through the NY Office of Storm Recovery $3 million grant received by Rye.
  2. Increasing State Standards for utility company preparedness and manpower in response to severe storm events. I have played a leadership role in working with the Assembly and Public Service Commission to increase emergency planning and storm response staffing requirements for utilities.
  3. Obtain cooperation from three outside agencies that have a large presence in Rye and other Sound Shore communities: Metro- North/MTA, NYS DOT and NYS Thruway Authority. On numerous occasions I have won cooperation when needed such as winning improvements to protect residents on the “Last Mile” project, stopping an MTA cell tower from looming over Loudon Woods and downtown Rye, saving NYS Thruway Authority property for recreation, fulfilling a 30-year community effort to secure property for youth sports and fighting for more seats on overcrowded New Haven Line trains.

Whether or not the State is able to help or not, what are the three biggest opportunities / challenges facing the City of Rye over  the  next  3-5 years? 

  1. Challenge 1: The Covid-19 crisis presents a challenge to the economic viability of every business, not-for-profit, school district and local government in our country. It will take tremendous talent to manage the economic dislocation in every category. For a community like Rye, the goal has to be to find ways to keep our local businesses, not-for-profits and government services viable through a challenging time.
  2. Challenge 2: Maintaining the high level of quality services residents expect at an affordable cost.
  3. Challenge 3: In these challenging times it is especially important that the City government work with not-for-profits in a supportive and cooperative manner and that not-for-profits  find  increased ways to support each other. These not-for-profits are an essential part of the fabric of every Sound Shore community, including Rye, and we need to make sure they survive these difficult time.

How do you expect the operation of State government to change in the wake of COVID-19?

The state’s outstanding leadership in reversing and  controlling  the spread of the Covid-19 disease will continue to be an ongoing responsibility. This has already evolved into the need for guidance on safe practices going forward so we can continue to control the disease. The related challenge of managing the loss in revenues during the pandemic and seeking essential federal aid for all states will continue to be an overriding priority including working with school districts, local governments and health care institutions whose budgets are threatened in this environment.

Not including Governor Cuomo, who are three current elected or appointed State officials who you admire and why?

  1. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. He leads a process of deliberation, consensus and group decision-making, which balances the varied expertise, interests and viewpoints of the Assembly, which span rural, suburban and urban areas of the state. As of the Chair of the Assembly Majority Democratic Conference, I have been able to play an important part in this process.
  2. Governor Kathy Hochul. She is an indefatigable ambassador traveling the state advancing Governor Cuomo’s agenda, especially in the areas of economic development, battling substance abuse and combatting sexual assault on college campuses. Kathy is a friend who I have hosted in Rye and joined upstate with our spouses for the 2015 Taste of Buffalo street festival, the hometown of the Lt. Governor and my wife Martha.
  3. Michael Kopy, Director, NYS Office of Emergency Management. Mike is an outstanding, dedicated, career public servant who has excelled during these challenging times.   He lives in Mamaroneck, is a former Village of Mamaroneck Fire Chief and has had an impressive career in the NYS State Police before he retired in 2018. Governor Cuomo brought him out of retirement in 2019 to his current position where Mike has been a key part of the Governor’s state Covid-19 response, first in Westchester as the outbreak began, and throughout the state in coordinating much of the logistical response that is now a model for nation.

How much money have you raised for your campaign through May 1st, 2020?

See attachment for May 18 report.

For the reporting period that ended May 18th the amount raised as of that date was $31,381.

Please list any organizations that have endorsed your candidacy:

To date every single group that has provided an endorsement in this primary has endorsed my re-election. The current list of organization endorsements is attached.

Please list any current elected officials that have endorsed your candidacy:

NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie

Rye Brook Mayor Paul Rosenberg

Port Chester Mayor Fritz Falanka

Town of Rye  Supervisor  Gary  Zuckerman

Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Tom Murphy

Town of Mamaroneck Supervisor Nancy Seligson

Village of Larchmont Mayor Lorraine Walsh

City of New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson

I am supported by most local village, town and city board members in the municipalities of the Assembly District.

In addition, I have been endorsed by 36 current and past Local Elected Women Officials. See attachment.

What is your favorite book? 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What are you watching these days? 

There is not much time to watch television but Governor Cuomo’s daily press conferences are an important way to follow  the  latest developments in our current public health crisis.

How many years have you lived in Rye?

Since 1984

Thanks, Steve!

Web and social media:

Please provide links to:

Campaign website

LinkedIn: n/a



Official Bio:

Steve Otis is serving in his fourth term in the State Assembly where he has developed a strong record of accomplishment on issues affecting Westchester and the entire state. Steve is known as a knowledgeable advocate for education, local governments and the environment and for passing legislation on a variety of issues.

Five years ago Steve helped initiate the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, an innovative new state grant program to assist municipalities in financing needed clean water projects. The program has grown dramatically each year and has now awarded almost $1.2 billion in state grants to local governments since it was established. In 2019 the $416 million granted to local governments made the program larger than the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, which spends $300 million per year on other environmental programs. The program has awarded funding to every Long Island Sound coastal community in Westchester that Steve represents.

Steve has been a strong advocate in the Assembly for increased state funding to school districts and on numerous education policy issues. He serves on the Assembly Education Committee and has won additional state funding for the school districts in the 91st Assembly District. As a former Mayor, he has been active on a variety of issues affecting local governments that include ways to help localities lower costs to taxpayers and become more efficient. He has also been active on transportation issues, pressing MTA to address overcrowding on the New Haven line, and consumer issues, for example, working to increase the state’s enforcement of deceptive marketing practices and violations of do-not-call registry rules.

Last year was a watershed year in state government. Countless issues that had been bottled up in the Senate for years finally passed both houses. Steve was a co-sponsor of most of the major key bills passed in 2019, including legislation on voting reform, gun control, the Climate and Community Protection Act, the Reproductive Health Act, the Child Victims Act, improved tenant protections laws, anti-discrimination laws and strengthening of New York’s laws on sexual harassment.

Steve has been the lead author of new laws on a variety of topics he has originated with a record for passing most of the bills he has introduced in recent years. In 2019 Steve passed a new law to reinstate landmark protections to guarantee commercial tenants access to the courts before a business could be evicted. Other legislation Steve passed included new laws concerning public safety, consumer rights and humane treatment of animals. These include legislation to make directing laser pointers at airplane cockpits illegal under state law, strengthen child labor law protections for minors working in the modeling industry, enact rules to prevent dangerous accidents from falling soccer goals, expand options for consumers holding annuities and increase the state penalty for stealing a pet, which had not been changed in over 40 years.

In 2018 Steve sponsored Lulu and Leo’s Law, which established the crime of misrepresentation by or on behalf of a caregiver. The new law was named for Lulu and Leo Krim who were murdered in 2012 at the hands of their nanny who had no previous experience caring for children, but presented false references stating she did. Without this change, there had been no legal duty for people to be accurate when presenting credentials or references to be hired as an at-home caregiver.

Steve sponsored a law to help in the identification of missing persons and the resolution of unsolved crimes. The new law, which went into effect on July 21, 2016, requires medical examiners to report information regarding unidentified remains to a US Department of Justice national missing persons database. Within a month of taking effect, the law was credited with the positive identification of a missing New Yorker. In 2017 he sponsored new legislation that was signed into law to expand notice of all missing persons cases to the federal database.

In March 2016, Steve received Audubon New York’s William Hoyt Environmental Excellence Award. He has also received the Nelson A. Rockefeller Award from the New York Water Environment Association for his work on water quality funding. In 2017 the Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body AFL-CIO honored Steve for “his ongoing dedication to the labor movement and the working men and women in New York State.”

Before joining the Assembly, Steve served as Mayor of the City of Rye for 12 years from 1998 to 2009. He is the longest-serving Mayor in the city’s history and is also a former President of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association, on whose executive committee he served from 2002 to 2012.

In state government, Steve served as long-time Counsel and Chief of Staff to Senator Suzi Oppenheimer until his election to the Assembly. Before joining Senator Oppenheimer in 1985, he served as Senate Fellow and Legislative Director to State Senator Jeremy S. Weinstein from 1980 to 1985.

He is also a past Chair of the City of Rye Conservation Commission and has served on the Board of Directors of the NYS Association of Conservation Commissions for 19 years. He has also served on the Westchester County Flood Action Task Force, as Vice Chair of the Long Island Sound Watershed Intermunicipal Council, Vice Chair of the Westchester County Environmental Management Council, and Co-Chair of the City of Rye’s Project Impact FEMA program. Otis has been a member of the Stewardship Committee of Audubon NY since 2009.

Steve has been effective on numerous issues affecting local government, education, traffic and pedestrian safety, emergency management, recreation, senior citizens, environmental protection, infrastructure repairs, historic preservation, property tax relief and matters of concern to women and families.

The Assemblyman is a graduate of Hobart & William Smith Colleges and holds a master’s degree in public administration from NYU and a law degree from Hofstra University School of Law.

Steve and his wife Martha, an executive in the book publishing business, reside in the City of Rye.

He serves as Chair of the Assembly Majority Conference and as a member of the following Assembly Committees: Education; Local Governments; Corporations, Authorities and Commissions; Environmental Conservation; Libraries and Education Technology; and Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development. He also serves on the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force.

In addition to his regular standing committee assignments, the Assemblyman serves as a member of both the Assembly Work Group on Legislative Process, Operations and Public Participation and the Assembly Climate Change Work Group. Otis previously served as Chair of the Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management.

Assemblyman Otis represents the 91st Assembly District in Westchester County, which includes the communities along the Long Island Sound of Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Port Chester, Rye and Rye Brook.


  1. ONCE UPON A TIME, in a small city once known for honest government, an unethical, greedy man got himself elected mayor by promising everything to everyone, knowing of course that this was not possible to do. Party donors – the biggest ones – were given extra special treatment, corrupt employees flourished. The city naturalist wrote a detailed scientific report trying to stop the destruction of the treasured local Forest Avenue Swamp by unscrupulous upstream construction. The building department also wrote a report denying any construction begin until more scientific tests were done – as did the famous regional wetland consulting firm – hired secretly by the big party donor upstream family themselves. All these official government documents would soon be hidden, or ‘destroyed.’ The Forest Avenue Swamp was then soon ruined when the upstream construction – improperly allowed by the greedy mayor – pierced the perched water table supporting the stream feeding the downstream Forest Avenue Swamp. The water no longer reached the swamp – falling instead subsurface into a more pervious layer prior to arriving, as it had for thousands of years, into the environmentally rich wetland swampland. Now the greedy mayor was caught. So he secretly directed all of his many minions to lie – about the previous scientific tests, the warnings, the existing city records, the honest city employees being privately threatened by the dishonest ones, about everything. The greedy mayor had elected higher office on his mind and the local environmental advocacy political groups could never be allowed to see his craven destruction of public record evidence, the ruin his decisions caused or hear the closed door threats issued to the paid city management. So he instead instituted a series of public show trials – held in city council chambers – where new city-paid ‘experts’ lied their faces off like so many puppets dancing on the city attorney’s strings. And the residents grew angry and knew they were being plaid for fools and they said so repeatedly and loudly. And in the next election the greedy mayor was turned out of office but the suffering he inflicted lingered on, ultimately speeding the death of the resident environmentalist who owned the now ruined & lifeless Forest Avenue Swamp. But the environmentalist left us all a gift. Collected by subpoena by a court in good standing. All the documentary evidence that was once denied and ‘destroyed’ were in fact after all saved, saved by 3rd parties aghast at what the greedy mayor and the corrupt group of city employees had done to the resident environmentalist. And knowing himself close to death the environmentalist gave these documents evidencing the crimes committed by the greedy mayor and his cohorts to other residents, to stand in testament to the lies that were told to the honest residents of the formerly honestly governed small city. And so the documents are safe and waiting for the proper time to be brought forward for the voting public to at last see. Perhaps they will begin appearing nationally starting in a few days – where the EPA & DOJ can review them. And justice can & will perhaps at last be served on this secretive greedy & cruel man. Stay tuned. And please vote for someone else.

  2. I do not know who TEDC is, but you make serious charges without providing any evidence, along with plenty of insults, apparently because you are too cowardly to name yourself or substantiate your allegations. Most of us are tired of innuendo designed to smear someone in public life. Why are you afraid to provide any proof?

  3. Jay, you didn’t ask the biggest question of the times which is “Do you believe in mandatory vaccination?”. Medical tyranny is sweeping the land and Steve Otis needs to answer that question. His track record on vaccination choice and informed consent is horrifying. It’s disappointing when an independent media outlet doesn’t ask the hard questions it’s also disturbing Otis didn’t mention it as an important issue. It seems like he’s trying to avoid the issue. It’s extremely sad politicians can’t run on a platform of defending civil liberties in America anymore. It’s a losing position which says much about how far our electorate has fallen with regards to American values. Steve Otis can’t be re-elected. His position on American civil liberties is un-American.


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