In 2014, 15th District Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory became the first person of color to be elected as Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, continuing the landmark achievements that have marked his 20 years of service to the country, county and community. It is a role he has been re-elected to by his peers three times now, and he takes great pride in leading the Legislature on building an economy that will enable the middle class to thrive, revitalizing our downtowns, investing in convenient transportation and affordable housing, prioritizing the fight against crime, and keeping quality higher education accessible to anyone who has the dream.
In 2011, Legislator Gregory became the first person of color in history to be elected Majority Leader of the Suffolk County Legislature. In that role, Legislator Gregory led the Democratic caucus, which has controlled the Legislature since 2006.
A native Long Islander, he enlisted in the United States Army in 1993. Soon after, he was accepted to Officer Candidate School (OCS). After completion of OCS, Lieutenant Gregory was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in Field Artillery.
After his stint in the Army was over, Gregory still had a deep desire to continue serving the public. In 2000, he was hired to work for Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer as the Town of Babylon’s Citizens’ Advocate. In that post, he ran the town’s constituent service operation. There he was tasked with running the equivalent of the town’s customer service department, responding to and solving problems for town residents.
In 2008, after winning office to the Suffolk County Legislature’s 15th district (which includes the diverse communities of Wheatley Heights, Wyandanch, North Amityville, Amityville Village, Copiague, parts of North Lindenhurst, West Babylon and North Babylon, and the portion of Farmingdale that lies in Suffolk County) in a special election, Gregory was tapped by then-Presiding Officer William Lindsay to chair the all-important Budget and Finance Committee.
It was a chairmanship he apparently earned the last half of that year; Lindsay reappointed Gregory to chair Budget and Finance every year after until 2012. Legislator Gregory has also served numerous times on the Legislature’s Bipartisan Budget Working Group, helping forge budgets that held the line on general fund property taxes—he has never voted for a general fund property tax increase—while maintaining the vital county services that constituents rely on.
Service to Constituents
Legislator Gregory is first and foremost proud of the constituent services his district office provides to the thousands of people every year who contact him for help on a multitude of varying and complex issues. He has combined his constituent services efforts with numerous successfully championed legislative initiatives.
Gun Offender Registry
Since being elected, Legislator Gregory won the Legislature’s approval for a gun offender registry that requires those convicted of violent crimes to notify law enforcement officials to help them identify and track down criminals that use firearms. He is spearheading efforts to bring back neighborhoods through the creation of a land bank that purchases blighted properties and helps put them back on the tax rolls, while cleaning up serious environmental problems. He is also working to ensure that public transportation—a vital link in Long Island’s economy—continues to serve the thousands of people who rely on it.
After Hurricane Sandy hit last fall, Legislator Gregory’s office went into—and still is in—overdrive. Working with community groups and various municipal, county, state and federal agencies, Gregory has provided life-saving services to the thousands of his constituents devastated by the super storm. The most moving moment for Legislator Gregory in Sandy’s aftermath came when he helped coordinate the disbursement of two tractor-trailer loads of relief supplies donated by the people of Louisiana, two days before Thanksgiving.
Says Legislator Gregory of his work and career in public service: “What gives me the most satisfaction isn’t writing legislation. Don’t get me wrong; I love looking for ways to make peoples’ lives better by implementing a new law to empower or protect them, but what makes me even prouder is when, at the end of the day—while I’m closing up the office and packing my bag getting ready to go home—I think about all the calls that my staff and I got that day from people looking for help with an issue or problem. Too many of our neighbors are in pretty desperate straits, and I’m just so humbled by the fact that they rely on us for help. Nothing makes me feel prouder than when I know we’re able to make a difference for them.