The first elected political refugee and first Iranian Jew takes oath
Surrounded by family, community leaders and supporters, Anna M. Kaplan was sworn in as New York State Senator by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday, Jan. 6, at Clinton G. Martin Park.
The room was packed with prominent elected officials, many of whom extolled the longtime Great Neck resident. Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth provided the keynote address and remarks were presented by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, Congress members Tom Suozzi and Grace Meng, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, State Senators Michael Gianaris and Todd Kaminsky, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
The program began with a Presentation of Colors by Westbury High School JROTC, the Pledge of Allegiance by Commander Matthew Falcone of American Legion Post 304 and the national anthem sung by Yadira Garcia Flores of Westbury High School.
Town of North Hempstead Democratic Leader John Ryan served as master of ceremonies, introducing Dr. Isma Chaudhry of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury and Rev. Ralph Taylor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Elmont, who each presented an invocation.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran spoke about how Kaplan is the first elected political refugee, the first elected Iranian Jew and the first New York State candidate endorsed by Former President Barack Obama. She also discussed the diverse district Kaplan will represent and the opportunities to strengthen the economy here, especially with Belmont.
“It will be a challenge,” said Curran, “but I’m sure Anna is up to it.”
DiNapoli described Kaplan as “an effective, results-driven public servant” and said, “I know she will be a fighter in Albany.”
In the keynote address, Bosworth, who has worked closely with Kaplan during the past five years when she served as a Town of North Hempstead councilwoman, talked about how she has no doubt Kaplan has looked fear in the eye and said, “Get out of my way” and believes she will fight for anyone.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand the passion and fierce determination that she exhibits on behalf of her constituents,” said Bosworth. “I know she will do an excellent job and work to represent all 350,000 constituents of the Seventh District.”
After proudly stating that there are now six Democratic senators in New York State, Bellone pointed out that while there’s talk about building walls in Washington, New York elected a political refugee who tells the story of perseverance and grit.
“In Anna’s story, we see America,” said Bellone. “The America where people rose up to elect the most diverse congress in the nation. Anna’s going to do great things for the community and New York State.”
Suozzi described Kaplan as someone with great empathy who helps people who have been knocked down.
“She is going to fight in the New York Senate and stand up for what this country stands for,” said Suozzi.
Kaminsky characterized Kaplan as an ethical person and noted, “That’s hard to come by in this business.” He also said, “She’s a good person with a strong backbone and that’s what we need to win the fights in Albany.”
Cuomo discussed the ugly strategy currently being used in Washington, where leaders are choosing to divide and conquer by taking our greatest strength—our diversity—and turning it into a weakness. But, he said Kaplan represents a new diversity.
“Anna is going to be fantastic because she is a combination of head and the heart,” said Cuomo. “She’s experienced, she knows her district, she knows the people, she knows what needs to be done. And, she’s in it for all the right reasons because she believes, she has the right motivation, she wants to make a difference. She is going to be a superstar.”
After the oath of office was given, Rabbi Tara Feldman of Temple Beth-El of Great Neck and Bishop Lionel Harvey of the First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury delivered the benediction and student chefs from Westbury High School’s culinary program provided refreshments.
Before the program concluded, Kaplan told her story.
“I came to this country as a hopeful 13-year-old girl, in search of a better life,” she said. “I took a chance on the American Dream, not knowing what the future would hold. I stand here today—humbled and grateful—to tell you that the American Dream still works in New York. The promise of our great nation is that anyone can succeed if they’re given opportunity—if they’re given a voice. That’s why I ran for this office—to give a voice to those in our district who have been ignored for far too long, so the next young girl who comes here for opportunity has it.”