Originally from Puerto Rico, Felix Ortiz has represented New York’s 51st Assembly District since first elected in 1994. During his tenure, Ortiz has served as chair of several committees and legislative task forces including Veterans Affairs, Mental Health, Food, Farm and Nutrition, among others.
In 2004, Ortiz passed a law to create five eating disorder centers across the state to help those who suffer from illnesses including anorexia and bulimia. His initiatives to counter obesity and diabetes were recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama. As a result, his weight management concepts became part of the Affordable Care Act.
In February 2015, Assemblymember Ortiz was appointed Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly; he is the first Hispanic to hold the position. Widely known for his 2000 legislation banning the use of hand-held mobile phones while behind the wheel (which was later passed as law), Ortiz has earned a favorable reputation among his senior constituents, 10,000 of whom live in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, part of Ortiz’s district, along with Red Hook, Greenwood, and parts of Gowanus, Bay Ridge, and Park Slope.
“Many seniors are concerned about affordable senior housing, safety, and health,” says Ortiz, who has worked tirelessly to secure funding for local senior centers. “The senior housing locations are full and have long waiting lists. My staffers assist constituents with many of these housing issues.”
Annually, Ortiz sponsors health fairs that cater to senior residents. The fairs consist of activities including health screenings, exercise demonstrations like Pilates and Zumba, and free information from insurance companies and city agencies.
While not all of the district’s senior population has embraced the Internet and social media, Ortiz relies on alternative ways to communicate with aging residents, like via a mailed newsletter, in addition to community meetings, celebrations and good old-fashioned door-to-door visits. “Whenever, I am back from Albany I like to visit the senior centers located in my district. It’s always fun to catch a game of dominos,” Ortiz said.
Brooklyn, NY 11220