He’s still at it.
Greenpoint Assemblyman Joe Lentol has been in office for 42 years, the longest tenure of any Brooklyn legislator in Albany, and on Tuesday night, without mounting a campaign, he secured himself another two against a Republican foe. We checked in to see what his priorities are for yet another term — it’s his 22nd, for those keeping score at home — and he emphasized the need to keep housing affordable.
“We have to find creative ways to make it easy to live here,” said Lentol, whose seat was previously held by his father and grandfather. “It is all a work in progress.”
Another item at the top of the former prosecutor’s to-do list is reducing wrongful criminal convictions by strengthening the state’s DNA database and enacting laws requiring police interrogations be videotaped and mandating that prosecutors turn over their evidence to defense attorneys much earlier before trial.
“Everyone thinks the laws are what they see on television shows, but in New York state, the district attorney controls the whole process,” said Lentol. “It would be good to protect the innocent and also to get more actual criminals to plead guilty.”
Lentol also wants to introduce tax breaks for musicians and music-related businesses and housing incentives for performers to stem what he sees as the erosion of the music economy.
“Little by little, the industry here is being whittled away,” he said. “People think we do not have to change anything, but just as we learned with the movie industry, offering incentives really helps.”The 71-year-old assemblyman prides himself on being everywhere in the 50th District, which includes Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Fort Greene, he said.
“I would like my legacy to be that I have gone everywhere and seen everyone,” Lentol said. “The best campaigning is to have people see you in their own setting doing your job.”