March 4, 2002

State Assembly Member Luster Ready to Retire

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Assemblyman Marty Luster (D-125th) announced that he will not seek re-election in November in a speech to 65 supporters Thursday at the Tompkins-Cortland Community College (TC3).

Luster, a 14 year veteran of the state legislature said that his choice was, “a personal decision, not a political one.”

“It has been an extraordinary privilege and honor to represent the entire community including Cornell,” he added.

Luster’s priorities in the Assembly have included health, education and rural issues.

During his career, Luster authored nearly 150 bills that have been signed into law.

“He has been an excellent member of the legislature,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University Relations.

Luster has a reputation for returning to the district from Albany to work with community members, according to local political activists. In the past that has included working with students at Cornell.

“His presence always showed that he cared,” said Michael Moschella ’02, president of the Cornell Democrats, a group Luster has visited annually since his election.

“[Luster] always stood up for students,” Moschella added.

Luster also recently joined Adam Crouch ’03 president of the Cornell Civil Liberties Union on a post-Sept. 11 panel.

“He has been one of the strongest voices for civil liberties around,” Crouch said.

While Luster ran unopposed in his last election in 2000 and has won by large margins since 1988, he still has his opponents.

“There are going to be a lot of people who will be glad to see Mr. Luster retire,” said Ryan Horn ’02, president of the College Republicans.

Luster is the first Democrat to hold the 125th Assembly seat in the past 75 years.

He often took positions on issues that were unpopular with the historically conservative district.

According to the Ithaca Journal, Luster is a self-described “unabashed liberal.” He supports gun control and is pro-choice.

His resignation has created speculation over who will fill his seat when it is vacated in December.

“The Republicans have a very good chance of taking back a traditionally Republican seat,” Horn said.

A number of local politicians have already expressed interest in succeeding Luster.

Republican Frank Proto and Democrats Timothy Joseph, Michael Lane and Peter Penniman have all eyed running for the Assembly seat.

Luster who is approaching 60 said he was retiring to spend more time with his family, including his grandchildren.

Here, at Cornell University, he will teach a course on New York State politics in the Department of Government next fall.

The course will focus on history, the relationship between the legislature and the Governor, the budget process and the state bureaucracy, according to Luster.

“It’s going to be a pretty interesting range of topics,” he said.

Luster has been a public servant for 19 years since he became Ulysses town supervisor in 1983.

He has been a supporter of a more open state government and a vocal critic of the Albany budgetary process, according to Luster.

In a move that cost him the chairpersonship of the Real Property Taxation Committee, Luster opposed incumbent Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s re-election to the position because of what insurgents felt was the Speakers’ tight-fisted control of the Assembly budget process.

Luster characterized the battle as a positive experience and said that it did not impact his decision to retire, according to the Ithaca Journal.

“I leave feeling good about what I’ve done in the Assembly,” Luster said.

Archived article by Peter Norlander