District 23 County Legislator Jonathan Heppner was chosen by the Democratic legislative caucus at Minority Whip, one of two leadership positions available at a party meeting in late December. New Paltz legislator Hector Rodriguez was chosen by the party to be Minority Leader at the meeting. Heppner’s 23rd District includes all of Woodstock and part of Hurley, including West Hurley and Glenford.
“I put my hat in the ring and the caucus unanimously supported me.”
Heppner says that the job of Whip is process oriented. “Personally as a legislator I’m interested in policy, but as whip, I look forward to pushing legislation as a caucus, through the committee process, getting things to the floor. There’s a handful of steps it takes to get things to the floor. There’s such a close margin [12 legislators committed to caucusing with Republicans, 11 with Democrats] in the legislature for us to get things done. It’s a closely divided chamber. This year I think you’ll see some opportunities to get things done with cross the aisle support.”
He pointed to newly elected Joe Maloney of Saugerties, Laura Petit from Port Ewen, Mary Wawro from Saugerties, and Tracey Bartels from Gardiner, each of whom is neither registered Republican or Democrat. “It creates a very interesting dynamic for the way things get done.”
He believes the Democrats will hang together, as opposed to previous years when two Democratic members of the Parete family sided with Republicans, throwing the majority to the GOP. “We have a very unified caucus, a pragmatic progressive caucus. I look forward to us being the caucus of ideas and solutions and getting things done.”
Still only 29 years old, Heppner recognizes the opportunity. “With this term I’m still the youngest member of the legislature for another two years at least. I’m very honored that after one term I had the support of my caucus for this position and I look forward to getting to work.”