Petition to Name Ferry Boat After Elizabeth A. Connelly
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While there are many candidates worthy of having a ferry named in their honor, we are recommending for one of these new boats to be named for the late New York State Assembly Member Elizabeth A. “Betty” Connelly. The Staten Island Ferry is our borough’s most widely known & appreciated symbol, and as such, these vessels should be named for those that left an indelible mark on our community. In this spirit, we can think of nobody more deserving of this honor than Assembly Member Connelly.
Before her election to the State Assembly, Mrs. Connelly was a homemaker and an active member of her community. Upon her historic election in 1973, becoming the first woman elected to office on Staten Island, Betty immediately took up the cause of the mentally ill & developmentally disabled. This would prove to be her life’s work as a member of the Assembly. During her tenure, she served as chair of what is now known as the Committee on Mental Health for 16 years. As Chairwoman, Betty led the fight to close the notorious Willowbrook State School & was the driving force behind a total reorganization of the State Department of Mental Hygiene. She was an ardent believer in the positive impacts of community-based care for developmentally disabled individuals and fought tirelessly for the right of these individuals to community resources. At the end of her tenure, Assembly Member Connelly served as Speaker Pro Tempore, the highest rank ever reached by a female member of the State Assembly.
If granted, the Elizabeth A. Connelly Ferry would become the first full sized Ferry to be named in honor of a woman. While there is no question that Assembly Member Connelly deserves this honor regardless of the current gender discrepancy in the Ferry fleet, we believe naming a vessel in her honor would be a tremendous step toward closing this gap.
It is important to point out that Elizabeth Connelly transcended modern day politics; she was more than a “politician.” During her entire 27 year career she served our borough with the highest level of integrity & passion, embodying what true public service should look like. Her deep roots and unrelenting advocacy for the Staten Island community have made Mrs. Connelly a true role model for those who had the privilege of working with her.
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