Stavisky’s Wife Says She Will Run To Succeed Him In Senate
By John Toscano
Toby Ann Stavisky, wife of the late state senator, who passed away 11 days ago, announced on Monday that she is going to run for his seat in an election to be held in November.
Her husband, Leonard Price Stavisky, died on Saturday, June 19th at the age of 73 after a stroke which debilitated him for about a year. A veteran of 34 years of both the Assembly and Senate, Stavisky was buried last Wednesday following services at which he was praised for his humanitarium endeavors by his rabbis. Mrs. Stavisky and their only son, Evan, also spoke.
Following the burial, Mrs. Stavisky sat shiva, a period of respect for the dead, last Thursday, Sunday and Monday at their home in Flushing.
In her announcement issued on Monday, Toby Stavisky cited "more than 30 years of community activism, work as a high school teacher," and the the experience gained working alongside her husband throughout his career as reasons why she was qualified to succeed him in the Senate.
Mrs. Stavisky said she was "unanimously endorsed" by the Queens County Democratic Party at a special meeting of its executive committee. Endorsements to fill a legislative post are voted on by the party leaders whose districts fall within the legislative district.
Neither the time nor place of the meeting was disclosed, but Mrs. Stavisky said she told the committee, "Obviously this is a very difficult time for me, but after more than 30 years of community activism, I know the concerns and priorities of our neighborhoods—and how to get results."
Stavisky represented the 16th District, which covers Flushing, Whitestone and College Point and stretched as far west as Corona and Jackson Heights. However, his longtime political base was in the Flushing–Whitestone area, where he was also a Democratic district leader. There was no word about who will succeed him in the latter post.
In her announcement, Mrs. Stavisky stated that she had taught "in some of New York’s best high schools and some of the toughest.
"I’ve worked to improve health care in our community, to preserve access to CUNY and SUNY [the city and state universities, respectively], and to provide new programs for seniors and fought to make sure that new Americans have the opportunity and ability to succeed. I understand the legislative process and can put these experiences to work right away in the state senate."
Mrs. Stavisky’s announcement stated that under state law, the vacancy created by her husband’s death will be filled in the general elections to be held this November. In order to run, candidates must file at least 1,000 valid signatures with the Board of Elections by July 15th, which gives would-be candidates only 15 days to gather the signatures.
The only elections scheduled for this year in Queens are for District Attorney and some judgeships.
At funeral services for Stavisky, his wife of 35 years described how dedicated he had been to public service. His son Evan, who serves as chief of staff to Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing), spoke of his dad’s love of baseball and his admonition to his son "to always tell the truth and try to be helpful to people." He said he hoped he could be "half the man" that his father had been.
Rabbi Graber, of the Whitestone Jewish Center, where Stavisky was a member, said that Stavisky always stood ready to assist any other member who might have needed help with a problem.
Rabbi Charles Agin, rabbi emeritus of the Free Synagogue of Flushing, also spoke.
The huge turnout of mourners included Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s liaison for Queens, Debra Markell, and Governor George Pataki’s executive assistant, Jeff Wiesenfeld and Public Advocate Mark Green also attended.
Senate Democratic Minority leader Martin Connor led a delegation of Stavisky colleagues including Senator George Onorato from Astoria, Serphin Maltese of Middle Village and former Senator Emanuel Gold.
Queens Democratic leader Thomas Manton led a group of Queens officials and others which included Borough President Claire Shulman and District Attorney Richard Brown.
Among elected officials who attended were Assemblymembers Ivan Lafayette, Nettie Mayersohn and Mark Weprin. Other assemblymembers were detained in session in Albany.
Congressmember Joseph Crowley sent a representative and City Councilmembers Michael Abel, Helen Marshall, Sheldon Leffler and John Sabini were present, as were Democratic district leaders Helen Sears, Honey Miller and Martha Taylor.
Others present were Tony Avella, chief of staff to Stavisky, and Bayside community activist Jerry Iannece; former Board of Education President Carol Gresser of Douglaston; Queens Parks Commissioner Estelle Cooper; Michael Nussbaum and Bill Driscoll.