Assemblyman Robert Sweeney to Retire

Robert Sweeney
Assemb. Bob Sweeney debating in favor of legislation that would authorize the state Department of Environmental Conservation to place restrictions on the levels of greenhouse gases that can be emitted statewide.

New York State Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) became the second Long Island lawmaker to announce this week that he won’t seek re-election in November after more than two decades in the legislature.

The 64-year-old legislative stalwart authored laws requiring manufacturers to collect unused mercury thermostats, combating invasive plant and animal species as well as allowing towns to finance homeowner’s home energy improvements by defining carbon emissions as waste.

“As much as I enjoy the job, there comes a time when you have to think about other things you may want to do in life,” Sweeney said. “I just felt that this was a good time to move forward to other things.”

Sweeney represents Assembly District 11, which covers southwestern Suffolk County from Amityville north to East Farmingdale and east to Wyandanch as well as a sliver of Deer Park.

Democrats have a nearly 2-to-1 edge over Republicans in the district—34,128 to 17,885—not including minor-party members and nearly as many unaffiliated voters as there are in the GOP.

Sweeney, dubbed the dean of the Suffolk Assembly delegation, was frequently quoted in the media defending environmental funding and questioning proposed rules that could open up parts of upstate to the controversial natural gas drilling practice known as fracking.

Before he won the seat in a March 1988 special election, Sweeney had served as Lindenhurst village clerk. He rose up the ranks over the past 26 years to chair the state Assembly environmental committee. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called him a mentor and credited Sweeney with helping make the Wyandanch Rising project happen.

The news that he would retire at the end of this year came four days after Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) announced he would also not seek re-election after a quarter century in Albany.

And like Weisenberg, Sweeney, too, said that he wants to add to the more than 300 bills he has passed before his time is up, including some of his legislation that is expected to be part of an environmental package that is slated to be voted on in the Assembly next week.

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