By Michael Gormley
ALBANY — Democrat Christine Pellegrino was sworn into her state Assembly post Monday, less than two weeks after her upset win in a special election for the Ninth district.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) welcomed her as the 45th woman in the Assembly, setting a record. Forty-two of the women are Democrats in the 150-seat body controlled by Democrats. Pellegrino, a longtime teacher from West Islip, is the first Democrat to hold that district’s seat.
“Her biggest concern was what was going to happen to the children she was instructing,” Heastie said Monday in a brief floor speech. “That, in itself, tells where her heart is and where her mind is. She is going to be someone who will speak for the children of her district.”
Pellegrino, 48, was backed by the Working Families Party and the state teachers unions. She upset Conservative Tom Gargiulo in a district that GOP President Donald Trump won in November.
Pellegrino, who teaches in Baldwin, was a leader in the anti-Common Core opt-out movement in which parents kept their children from taking some standardized tests. She was also active in the Baldwin Teachers’ Association and was a Democratic National Convention delegate for presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last year.
The seat was held for 13 years by former Republican Assemb. Joseph Saladino, now the Oyster Bay Town supervisor.