Assemblyman Steve Otis Seeks a Fifth Term
In 2018, Steve Otis ran unopposed for his fourth term representing the 91st Assembly District. This year, he is being challenged in the June 23 Democratic primary by Meg Cameron, also of Rye.
Economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic rises to the top of the issue list, so we asked Otis what the priorities should be. “First, the whole country needs federal aid, especially for small businesses which otherwise will be knocked out of the box.” He added, “Nonprofits have taken a body blow because so many depend on the programs they run and fund-raisers, which have been cancelled. The challenge is to keep these institutions running.”
Otis said the State would be looking to backfill lost revenues first but noted that it can’t wait too long to help school districts and local governments. “Neither can tolerate mid-year cuts.”
He points to the fact that much of the legislation he had passed has helped lower property taxes, notably his 2015 Water Infrastructure bill, which included $1.2 billion for water improvement for the State and every Sound Shore town. Rye received $489,000. For his District he got $3 million in funds from New York State Rising.
Would Assemblyman Otis be in favor of raising taxes or trimming costs to bridge the gap? “Raising property taxes is quite troublesome. It is possible that there could be school cuts, but this year’s budgets repeated last year’s allocations, and things like remote learning are raising costs for schools. And if the virus isn’t contained, the schools are likely to have additional educational expenses.”
Otis, who serves on the Assembly’s Education Committee, remarked, “School districts have different needs. I speak with Eric Byrne and Barbara Ferraro often. Recently, Rye Neck’s private food vendor wanted to stop providing the free meal program and I went to the Attorney General and they were convinced to stay on that job.” Otis said he was instrumental in getting an increase in Foundation Aid for Port Chester’s schools, something that contributed to the ability to offer laptops for remote learning.
While there have been no debate forums as yet, Otis’ opponent, Meg Cameron, has said, “When he was mayor of Rye (for three terms), he let debt get out of hand; he does not collaborate; and he went behind the backs of two Rye mayors on legislation allowing Rye Country Day School to purchase the Thruway land for playing fields.”
His response: “When I was mayor, Rye always had conservative debt levels and a AAA rating from Moody’s. Collaboration is why I’m so effective. I convinced the Last Mile project people to add noise barriers for Grace Church Street. My opponent and Mayor Cohn were not straightforward about the fact that they wanted the Thruway land auctioned off.”
Otis added, “I believe in the work I do and in getting results.”
After graduating from Rye Country Day School, Otis received a B.A. from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, an M.P.A. from New York University, and a J.D. from Hofstra University.
He and his wife, Martha Otis, are longtime Rye residents.
The Rye Record plans to hold a candidate forum with Meg Cameron and Assemblyman Steve Otis that will be published in the print edition and available on our website, ryerecord.com in the weeks leading up to the June 23 primary.