Willis Stephens

Willis Stephens

Infobox_Politician
name = Willis Stephens Jr.

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imagesize = 200px
birth_date = 1955
birth_place = Brewster, New York
residence =
death_date =
death_place =
office = Assemblyman, 99th District (1994-2006)
salary =
term_start = 1995
term_end = 2006
predecessor = Vincent Leibell
successor = Greg Ball
constituency =
office2 =
salary2 =
term_start2 =
term_end2 =
predecessor2 =
successor2 =
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office3 =
salary3 =
term_start3 =
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party =
religion =
occupation = Lawyer
majority =
spouse = Ginny Stephens
children = 3
website =
footnotes =

Willis “Will” Stephens Jr. (born 1955) was a politician that represented the 99th District in the New York State Assembly. After serving in the Assembly for twelve years, Stephens was defeated in the September 2006 Primary by Assemblyman Greg Ball and lost the Republican nomination. He was one of only three Republicans in the Assembly to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood.

Cite news
url= http://www.ppany.com/endorsements/index.cfm Planned Parenthood of NY Endorsements
publisher=Planned Parenthood
title=Planned Parenthood Endorsements
date=October 3, 2005

] Mr. Stephens, his wife, Ginny, and their three children reside in Brewster, New York.

Political career and background

Assemblyman Stephens represented the 99th District of New York which encompasses the municipalities of Patterson, Mahopac, Carmel, Southeast, Putnam Lake and Brewster, in Putnam County; Yorktown, Lake Mohegan, Somers, and North Salem in Westchester County; and Pawling in Duchess County. His family held the seat nearly continuously for eighty years: his grandfather, D. Mallory Stephens, held this seat from 1926 to 1952; his father, Willis Stephens Sr., held the seat from 1952 to 1982; and Stephens himself served from 1994 to 2006.

Stephens is a member of the law firm of Stephens and Charbonneau, in Brewster, New York. He was awarded a Juris Doctor degree from St. John's University school of Law in 1980 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University in 1977.

Stephens served on on the Ways and Means, Rules, and the Judiciary Committees. The former Assemblyman has drawn heavy criticism from conservative groups due to his endorsements from traditionally liberal leaning organizations such as the CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association), AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), NYSUT (New York State United Teachers), Planned Parenthood, and EANY (Environmental Advocates of New York).

Cite news
url= http://www.newscopy.org/assemblyman_willis_stephens/index.html
publisher=Newscopy.org
title=Ball's Military Record Assailed
date=June 2006

] While serving as a member of the Assembly Ethics Committee, Stephens was cited by watchdog groups after using campaign contributions for personal expenses, including a clown for a children's party.

Cite news
url= http://www.gannett.com/go/newswatch/2005/april/westchestercash.htm
publisher=The Journal News
title=Watchdogs say elections include questionable spending sprees
date=April 2005

]

For the first time since taking office in 1994, Stephens was involved in a heated primary campaign for the Republican nomination in the 99th Assembly District mounted by opponent Greg Ball—a retired Air Force Captain put on the ballot by the submission of about 1800 petition signatures.

On September 12, 2006, in the Republican Primary for New York's 99th District, Ball defeated Stephens with 71.14% (4,750 votes) to 28.86% (1,297 votes) for Stephens, the lowest vote total for any incumbent running for reelection to the State Assembly.

Cite news
url= http://www.ny1.com/ny/Election/2006primary/index.html?page_name=assembly
publisher=NY1 News
title=Primary 2006
date=September 2006

]

Stephens claimed he had been the victim of a negative campaign, citing mailings that were distributed calling him a 'country-club liberal' and hilighting his close relationship with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. However, Stephens himself drew criticism when he refused to repudiate a letter about challenger Greg Ball which falsely claimed Mr. Ball had received a dishonorable discharge from the United States Air Force. Stephens was also criticised heavily for not returning campaign contributions from indicted Connecticut trash magnate James Galante.Cite news
url= http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060913/NEWS02/609130362/1020/NEWS04
publisher=The Journal News
title=Ball Defeats incumbent Stephens for GOP Line in Assembly Race
date=September 2006
]

Due to New York's electoral fusion system, the Assemblyman had vowed to remain in the race on the Conservative and Independence lines. Ultimately, Stephens decided to withdraw from the race altogether, instead taking a nomination for Supreme Court Justice in Queens. [Cite news
url= http://www.newscopy.org/2006/09/99th_assembly_d.html
publisher=Newscopy.org
title=99th Assembly District Race - Now the Fun
date=September 14, 2006
]

Controversy

"Pontificating idiots" email

" that focuses on the community of Brewster. He thought the message was going to Beth Coursen, an aide in his Assembly district office.

Cite news
url=http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=44685
publisher=Associated Press
title=Politician Tells Voters They’re Idiots
date=June 30, 2005

] Instead he sent his reply to all subscribers, referring to them as pontificating idiots.

Cite news
url= http://www.ball4ny.com/pdffiles/pressjune29_5.pdf
publisher=New York Post
title=IDIOT POL RIPS VOTERS IN MASS E-MAIL SLIP
date=June 30, 2005

]

The discussion group, called "Brewster10509", has a web site describing what the list is for. Members are free to post anything that has to do with government, education, community organizations and a host of other things related to Brewster and the surrounding Town of Southeast.

Cite news
url=http://www.ball4ny.com/pdffiles/press_july1.pdf Washington Post
publisher=Washington Post
title='Hey Morons, I'm sorry...'
date=June 30, 2005

] After realizing his mistake, he issued an apology to the users of the message board to which he said, "In fact, now I most closely resemble the type of poster I described."

Cite news
url= http://www.ball4ny.com/pdffiles/pressjune29_2.pdf
publisher=Fox News
title=Politician tells voters they’re idiots
date=June 30, 2005

]

Text of Stephen’s Email

Cite news
url=http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050629/NEWS02/506290367/1017/
publisher=The Journal News
title=Errant e-mail post from assemblyman calls Brewster villagers ‘idiots’
date=June 29, 2005

]

Quotation|"Re: Comments on Stephens Campaign Website" more interesting crap. I'm "on" 10509 to monitor what is going on in Brewster. I do not post anymore. Just watching the idiots pontificate. Keeping informed is important and it also gives me a window to what GB and some of his supporters are thinking. Let me know how you think we should proceed with the website. I'd like to get it up and running before too long and don't want to hurt Michele and Jay ... I like them and they are talented. Maybe a collaboration of some sort? I'll let you be my guide. What's the scuttlebutt on the election ... is Hauser circulating a Conservative petition ... are you going to do an opportunity to ballot on the "D" line? How about an independent line ... like the Save Pawling Party or "Chicks with Balls Party" or some such thing? If it is really hot tomorrow you are welcome to come for a swim (a suit would be appropriate :0 ) ... I don't think I'm around this weekend for Guinans ... sounds like a blast though. Got pozzi's announcement in the AM and then its back to the Law Office .... I feel like I've been away for a month! Later, Will

Stephens' e-mail also included what some might consider to be offensive remarks directed towards his intended recipient, Coursen.

Cite news
url= http://www.ball4ny.com/pdffiles/pressjune29_1.pdf
publisher=WSMTV
title= Assemblyman's wayward email refers to voters as idiots
date=June 30, 2005

] "If it is really hot tomorrow you are welcome to come for a swim (a suit would be appropriate :0) ..." he added. Assemblyman Stephens apologized publicly to the members of the group as well as the entire district.

Cite news
url= http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050629/NEWS01/506290323
publisher= Poughkeepsie Journal
title=E-mail gaffe leaves lawmaker red-faced
date=June 29, 2005

]

Putnam victory fund

, who was in turn awarded a 1.5 million dollar no-bid garbage contract by the town board on Stephens' recommendation.

Cite news
url= http://ncnlocal.com/archives/archives_2006/8-23-06/topstory.htm
publisher= North County News
title=Ball Fires at Will
date=August 23, 2006

]

Assemblyman Stephens refused to provide a copy of the secret memo recommending that Galante's contract be renewed for a record 1.5 million dollars without allowing public bids even as Galante had been recently arrested under the Federal RICO act, stating that " [t] hat's a legal opinion that is a matter of attorney-client privilege. It's not subject to the New York Freedom of Information Law ...it would be up to the town, not [me] , whether to release the memo."

Cite news
url= http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060823/NEWS02/608230309/1026/NEWS10
publisher= The Journal News
title=Ball assails Stephens over Southeast trash contract
date=August 23, 2006

]

According to the "Danbury News-Times", "Willis H. Stephens, Jr. has received millions of tax dollars in aggregate payments as Southeast's municipal counsel for more than ten years. In 2005 alone, Southeast taxpayers paid Stephens, Jr. an estimated $190,000 for legal work, which included legal work involving a no-bid municipal contract worth an estimated $1.5 million tax dollars to an admitted felon at that time under investigation by Federal law enforcement authorities for alleged racketeering. Although Southeast taxpayers paid Stephens, Jr. for legal work, although pertinent Southeast garbage contract negotiations ceased nearly a year ago, although Southeast taxpayers are bound today under contract terms negotiated by Stephens, Jr. and the Southeast Town Board with a major campaign contributor presently under Federal indictment for alleged racketeering, Stephens, Jr. asserts that taxpayers have no right to see his legal work."

Cite news
url= http://neighbors.newstimeslive.com/opinion/edit.php?id=1011167
publisher= Danbury News Times
title=Secrecy is not best reaction to Federal Investigation
date=August 24, 2006

]

Galante, who was previously convicted of tax evasion and arrested in June for allegedly conspiring with organized crime to prevent competition in the garbage business in Connecticut, was accused of donating to a PAC (Political Action Committee) which laundered money to several politicians who may have used their influence to award contracts to Galante's trash hauling business.

Cite news
url= http://www.newstimeslive.com/news/story.php?id=1011109
publisher= Danbury News Times
title=Galante an issue in NY election
date=August 23, 2006

]

References

See also

*List of members of the New York State Assembly

External links

* [http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=099 Official Homepage: Assemblyman Willis Stephens, 99th District of New York]
* [http://willstephens.com Official Reelect Assemblyman Willis Stephens Campaign Website]
* [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Brewster10509/ Brewster10509 Listserv]
* [http://www.vote-smart.org/bio.php?can_id=BS022355 Project VoteSmart - Assemblymember Stephens]
* [http://politicalgraveyard.com/families/2758.html Political Graveyard - Stephens Family of New York]
* [http://www.nyjnews.com/legislature/lawmakerDetails.php?id=41&pid=12 Legislative Voting Record for Assemblyman Stephens]

Persondata
NAME = Stephens, Willis
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Stephens, Will; Stephens Jr., Willis
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Politician
DATE OF BIRTH = 1955
PLACE OF BIRTH = Brewster, New York
DATE OF DEATH =
PLACE OF DEATH =


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