Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso, a Democrat, was reelected to represent the 16th District over Republican Byron Divins on Nov. 6.
D’Urso found out about his second-term win while with his volunteers at a party at his Port Washington headquarters.
“I would like to express my appreciation to the voters of the 16th Assembly District for reelecting me as your New York State Assemblyman,” D’Urso said in a statement on Nov. 7. “It has been an honor to represent you. I am proud of the important work we have accomplished and look forward to the upcoming legislative session. I will continue to work with my colleagues to sponsor and support legislation that is in your best interest. My office is available should you need assistance on a matter of state government.”
When speaking with the Great Neck Record, D’Urso explained that during his first year as an assemblyman he tried to learn as much as he could about the New York State Assembly and its processes.
“I’m 79, but I still have a lot to do and give,” said D’Urso, explaining why he decided to run for a second term. “I am here to serve the people.”
When asked about plans for his next two-year term, D’Urso said he hopes to work on a package of bills that bring more transparency to government, eliminate LCCs, have elections be publicly funded with caps and reduce the amounts necessary for funding in order to equal the playing field for candidates.
D’Urso explained that he will continue to fight for a ban on water contaminants such as 1,4 dioxane, against the proposed flood gate plan across Long Island Sound because it may lead to a rise in water levels on the North Shore and for the use of renewable energies like solar and wind.
The assemblyman hopes to continue to give grants throughout the 16th District for roads, lighting and retaining walls.
Born in Italy, D’Urso immigrated to the United States in 1960 at 21 years old and, 11 years later, accepted a civil service position with the Department of Housing Development Administration for the City of New York.
In 1974, D’Urso joined the Democratic Party, and in 1991 he was elected councilman for the Town of North Hempstead. After leaving the position in 2006, D’Urso committed the next few years to do volunteer work in Haiti, Central America and Africa, building homes, clinics, bridges and bringing clean water to Third World countries. In 2016, D’Urso ran and was elected for his first term as assemblyman of the 16th District.
Earlier this year, D’Urso received international attention when he traveled to a small synagogue in Naples, Italy, where he was reunited with the descendants of a Jewish family his family helped hide from the Nazis when he was a little boy.
“For more than 25 years, I’ve been telling people about my father’s heroism and the way he kept the Ascarellis hidden from the Nazis in the woods, but few people believed me,” explained D’Urso in his speech to some 500 people at the reunion in Italy.
D’Urso had been trying to locate the family since 1988, and through the extensive research of Great Neck attorney and former prosecutor Michael Weinstock, a diary describing the extraordinary risks the D’Urso family undertook to save their Jewish friends was discovered.
As a little boy, the assemblyman learned valuable lessons about helping people that have continued to inspire him.
“It’s a very special affirmation that my father did the right thing while the whole world went crazy,” noted the assemblyman. “I’m blessed because the diary that’s been found allows me to finally spread the word about my father’s heroism. And I’m doubly blessed to spend time with so many people who are alive today, in part, because a farmer who couldn’t read or write knew what was right and what was wrong. That’s the biggest lesson of the Holocaust, of course. Right is right—even if nobody is doing it. And wrong is wrong—even if everybody is doing it.”
—Additional reporting by Sheri ArbitalJacoby