Huntington Recognizes First Female State Legislator, Suffragist Ida Bunce Sammis, With Historical Marker
On Wednesday, March 27, 2019, Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci; Councilmembers Joan Cergol and Ed Smyth; Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia; Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman; Town Historian Robert Hughes and Human Services Director Carmen Kasper were joined by the Town’s first female Town Supervisor, former Supervisor and Assemblywoman Toni Rettaliata-Tepe; Antonia Petrash and members of the Long Island Woman Suffrage Association, and Linda McAllen, current owner of the property at 70 Main Street, to dedicate a historical marker at the home of suffragist Ida Bunce Sammis, Huntington’s first Assemblywoman and one of the first two women ever elected to the New York State Legislature in 1918.
Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci recognized Sammis’ achievements, including her record-breaking passage of legislation in her first 14 days in office, “extending duck-hunting season by two weeks, a measure her male counterparts had failed to pass for 15 years prior to her arrival in the State Legislature,” remarking that he was unable to pass legislation that quickly in his time in the Assembly, also noting “10 of the 14 bills Sammis introduced in her single year in office became laws – including improving working conditions for female elevator operators, providing funds for the care and education of disabled children, and ensuring salaries of both men and women in state-run hospitals were equal.”
Supervisor Lupinacci also acknowledged the two history-making women in attendance for the Women’s History Month event: “Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia is the longest serving Town Clerk in Huntington history, who has made history of her own, building the Town’s Records Management Program from the ground up.
“Former Supervisor and former Assemblywoman Toni Rettaliata-Tepe was just the third woman to serve Huntington in that Assembly seat, also securing the first $31,000 in funding for Town Clerk Raia’s history-making Records Center. Supervisor Rettaliata was, most notably, Huntington’s first female Town Supervisor who was responsible for the formation of our Veterans Advisory Board.”
Councilwoman Joan Cergol stated: “Ida Bunce Sammis blazed the way in getting women the right to vote, but even more important, she blazed the way in debunking the stereotypes about women in government and politics. She set the bar for women in public service in this town, and I hope I can continue her tradition of fighting for the rights of the under-represented and legislating to make all our lives better.”
Councilman Ed Smyth said: “This is a great addition to the historical mosaic that is in Huntington and reinforces the appreciation we have for the history of our great Town.”
Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia stated: “I was very pleased to see the Town of Huntington continue to recognize the role of women in the Town of Huntington’s history, especially Ida Bunce Sammis, one of the first female members of the New York State Assembly. She represents and inspires a long tradition of women running for elected office in the Town, including myself.”
Highway Superintendent Kevin S. Orelli added: “It is great to know that we are recognizing women of the past for their pioneering efforts in establishing rights for women that were not in place for so long. Knowing Ida Bunce Sammis, a local hero, was among those pioneers of women’s’ rights makes me very proud to have been part of our Town recognizing her for the contributions she has made to the women’s movement.”
Tax Receiver Jillian Guthman stated: “The ability to serve the community as an elected official is something I personally find so fulfilling. I appreciate women, such as Ida Sammis, who paved the way as one of the first women elected to the New York State Assembly.”
On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, the Town unveiled its first historical marker recognizing the women’s suffrage movement at the corner of Wall Street and Main Street in Huntington village, noting the confrontation between anti and pro suffragists at the site of a July 1913 woman’s suffrage rally and parade, which embarked from the Sammis house at 70 Main Street.