Gov. Andrew Cuomo, appearing Saturday night at the Somos El Futuro gala, announced the nomination of Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera, D-Bronx, to serve as Commissioner of the state Department of Labor.
This represents Cuomo’s biggest poach to date from the Assembly, where his administration has found RoAnn Destito, Daryl Towns and Sam Hoyt. It leaves a significant gap in the daily operation of the chamber, where Rivera serves as Speaker Pro Tempore and presides over the chamber. Born in Puerto Rico, he has served in the Assembly for almost two decades.
He’ll hold onto his seat through the end of the current session in June.
Colleen Gardner, a holdover from the Paterson administration, had been serving as commissioner at Labor. Rivera’s appointment is subject to Senate approval.
Rivera was born in Puerto Rico and is an elder statesman in the black and Latino caucus, making it likely that this news will elicit a standing O at the Somos gala, where Cuomo is slated to receive an award for visionary leadership and just helped bail out the event along with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg after labor groups yanked their support.
From Cuomo’s release:
“The programs managed by the Department of Labor are instrumental in creating jobs, protecting workers, and growing business,” said Governor Cuomo. “Assemblyman Rivera has the knowledge and experience to take the department to the next level – something we will need as we continue to grow the economy. I look forward to him joining my administration and thank Commissioner Gardner for her dedication to New Yorkers and continued service in the executive branch.”
Assemblyman Peter Rivera said, “It is an honor to be nominated for such a prestigious position. During the last 15 months, Governor Cuomo has turned New York State government into a national model for effectiveness and efficiency. His reform plan will create much needed jobs for New Yorkers and I look forward to working with him and the team at the Department of Labor as we continue to build a New New York.”
During his time in the New York State Assembly, Assemblyman Rivera served as the chairman of the Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. As the committee chairman, he convened the Mental Hygiene Work group to reorganize the Mental Health system in New York State. Assemblyman Rivera currently sits on the on the New York State Assembly Committee on Rules and the Judiciary Committee, as well as the committees on Agriculture, and Consumer Affairs and Protection. In addition, Assemblyman Rivera is the former Chairman of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. As the highest-ranking Latino in the Assembly, he has fought important issues in the Hispanic community such as improved quality in education, the strengthening of bilingual education, increased access to healthcare and AIDS-related funding and the establishment of a Puerto Rican heritage center at a newly renovated Bronx office of the New York Public Library.
Prior to his election, Assemblyman Rivera was the President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association. During his tenure, he successfully doubled the number of Hispanic judges in New York.
Assemblyman Rivera has had a long and distinguished career in public service. After earning his law degree from St. John’s Law School, he served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Homicide Bureau in the Bronx. Before attending law school, Assemblyman Rivera was a Federal Agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.), where he played a key role in Operation Eagle, at the time the largest federal narcotics operation in the United States. He started his career as a police officer in the South Bronx and then went on to become a detective where he served as the NYPD’s radio and television spokesperson on issues relevant to the Hispanic community.
Assemblyman Rivera earned his Baccalaureate degree in Business Administration from Pace College. He was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and migrated to New York City when he was a child. Assemblyman Rivera currently lives in the Bronx and has two children.
Assemblyman Rivera’s nomination is subject to confirmation by the New York State Senate. He will serve in the Assembly for the remainder of the 2012 legislative session, during which Commissioner Gardener will continue to serve in her current role.”