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Monday, September 25, 2023

What Happened to our Independent Representative?


For many years, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, while caucusing with the Democrats in Albany, maintained his Independence party registration. Once identifying himself as an independent minded representative, it has become crystal clear that those days are long gone.

Fred notably recently re-registered as a Democrat this year, which makes sense, having caucused with the party in the Assembly for well over a decade. However, his independent streak died long before his party switch. 

Since 2019, Fred Thiele has voted in lockstep with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-NYC) on an unbelievable 97% of bills. He notably sided with New York City Democrats on the disastrous bail reform in 2019 and even recently cosponsored the Clean Slate Act, which would seal the records of violent offenders convicted of arson, manslaughter and domestic violence. Beyond these failures in public safety, he has also voted to kill bills that would offer more transparency in New York’s government, voting with party leadership to block webcasting of Assembly Committee Meetings.

Fred Thiele’s record wasn’t always this abhorrent and partisan. The descent of once Independent Fred Thiele into the staunch partisan we have seen recently is exactly why I support term limits. I never want my elected officials to be comfortable. I want them to know they have to deliver for the needs of their constituency over their political party bosses. Fred Thiele has been in the Assembly longer than I have been alive, and the longer he’s been there, the easier it has become for him to vote the party line, regardless of what the voters back home think.

So while Mr. Thiele spends more and more time preparing his new home in North Carolina, voting on autopilot with New York City’s leadership team. I’ve been knocking on 500 doors a week, talking (and more importantly, listening) to voters on the East End about what they want from their elected officials in Albany. The issues we face go beyond partisanship. I believe in New York the biggest problems we face are regional, not partisan. When elected to succeed Fred Thiele in November, I will always put the needs of Southampton, East Hampton, Shelter Island and Southold above the needs of any party. I will restore an independent voice for the East End in Albany and unapologetically vote for Long Island’s needs over New York City’s needs every time.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Ganley is the candidate for Assembly District 1.