Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato has been officially on the job since New Year’s Day, but the new south Queens lawmaker held her ceremonial inauguration on Sunday, Jan. 22, at P.S. 232 in Howard Beach.
Pheffer Amato has taken over the 23rd District — which represents Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and much of the Rockaways — from former Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, who announced last June that he would not seek re-election for the Assembly seat for personal reasons. Pheffer Amato handily defeated Republican challenger Alan Zwirn by a nearly 35 percent margin in the November election.
Audrey Pheffer, Pheffer Amato’s mother, held the exact same Assembly seat for nearly 24 years before moving on to be the Queens County Clerk in 2011, and swore her in at the ceremony.
Retired Queens Supreme Court Justice Augustus Agate served as the master of ceremonies. Elected officials including Congressman Joseph Crowley, Congressman Gregory Meeks, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Public Advocate Letitia A. James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, state Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr., and state Senator James Sanders each spoke at the event, welcoming Pheffer Amato into public service.
“I am deeply touched by the outpouring of support and affection from everyone who took the time to attend my inauguration,” Pheffer Amato said. “I believe the best way I can show my gratitude is by upholding the oath that I took on Sunday.”
As one of Pheffer Amato’s first actions as Assemblywoman, she is urging the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a thorough traffic safety study around P.S. 104, which services students in kindergarten through fifth grade in Bayswater.
The school saw enrollment increase by more than 200 students this year, and according to administrators at P.S. 104, nearly three quarters of students walk to and from school each day.
There are currently no distinct signs or calming devices in the immediate vicinity of the school that alert drivers to the fact that they are approaching a school area. There was an electronic sign informing drivers of their speed installed at this school year, but it was removed during the school’s winter break.
“I am greatly concerned about the welfare of our students,” said Katie Grady, principal of P.S. 104. “On a yearly basis, one of our students gets hit by a car along with vehicular accidents constantly around the school. It’s unsafe and unacceptable.”
Pheffer Amato wrote a letter to DOT, requesting the agency conduct a safety review at the school, and implement any changes accordingly.
“I have heard the complaints of P.S. 104 regarding the real potential dangers for the many students who walk to and from school every day,” Pheffer Amato said. “The safety of our children must be a top priority for the city’s Department of Transportation.”