State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) has hired a government veteran with ties to President Barack Obama to help her as the Democrats complete the transition to majority-party status in the Senate.
Brooklyn resident Michael Gaspard, older brother of White House political director Patrick Gaspard, will serve on Ms. Savino's staff on a temporary basis until the Senate transition is complete.
Gaspard formerly worked for Mayor David Dinkins, Public Advocate Mark Green, and as head of get-out-the-vote operations in Florida for the America Coming Together group.
Aiding Gaspard, also on a temporary basis, will be Island resident Michael Arvanites, who worked as Staten Island and South Brooklyn liaison for Council Speaker Christine Quinn. He is also president of the North Shore Democratic Club and serves on Community Board 1.
Ms. Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) has also been named to chair the Senate Civil Service and Pensions Committee, taking over from Island colleague Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Republican.
"In today's unstable economic environment, it's crucial for us to protect retirees' hard-earned pension and ensure their income security," said Ms. Savino.
Lanza (R-Staten Island), now in the Senate minority, will become the ranking member, or top Republican lawmaker, on the committee.
Ms. Savino will also sit on the Cultural Affairs, Banks, Aging, Consumer Protection, Judiciary, Labor, Housing and Transportation committees.
"There was a call for change on every level of government this November," she said. "The Senate Democrats are committed to a more open and fair legislative process, policies that stimulate job creation, as well as protecting working families with legislation such as, the Paid Family Leave Act."
With the large number of union and civil service households, both working and retired, in the 23rd District, Ms. Savino said she is looking forward to continuing her advocacy in the Senate.
Before being elected to office in 2004, Ms. Savino was vice president for political action and legislative affairs for Local 371 of the Social Service Employees Union.
Ms. Savino, the first woman from the Island elected to serve in the state Senate, is also the Senate's Majority Whip and co-chair of the State Senate Campaign Committee.
In addition to serving on Civil Service and Pensions, Lanza will continue to serve on the Ethics, Transportation, Codes, Cities, and Judiciary committees.
He will no longer serve on the Education, Aging or Mental Health and Disabilities committees, his office said.