Former Suffolk County Legislator Nora Bredes, who was one of the most outspoken voices against the Shoreham nuclear power plant in the 1980s, died Thursday at the age of 60 after losing her battle with breast cancer.
Bredes held the Fifth Legislative District seat from 1992 to 1998, during which time she fought for anti-tobacco legislation, open space preservation, and better protection for victims of domestic violence. One year after she left the legislature, she became the director of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership at the University of Rochester.
"Her research on women in politics had an impact on the democratic process at the state, regional, and national levels," Rochester President Joel Seligman said in a statement Saturday. "Nora was a person of extraordinary commitment and intelligence who made a difference in the life of our University. ... She will be profoundly missed."
Bredes, who is originally from Huntington and lived for seven years in Stony Brook before moving to the Rochester area, was also a past president of the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee and past director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. Former Gov. Mario Cuomo appointed her a founding trustee of the Long Island Power Authority in 1987.
From 1980 to 1989, Bredes led the Shoreham Opponents Coalition in a successful bid to close the Shoreham nuclear power plant based on the idea that should a disaster occur, Long Island residents would not be able to evacuate the region quickly enough.
"Nora's vision saw the possibility of a terrible calamity and she made a tremendous commitment for almost 15 years of her life," said New York State Assemb. Steve Englebright, who campaigned for Bredes at an event she held during an unsuccessful run for a county legislature seat in Monroe County a year ago.
"She was a remarkable leader and a courageous, civic minded citizen," Englebright said. "She was our Joan of Arc."
Kara Hahn, the Democratic candidate presently running for the county legislature seat Bredes once occupied, recalled Bredes as a champion for women in public office.
"Nora was a true inspritaion not only to women in our community, but also in Suffolk County and New York State," she said. "I truly respected and admired her for her dedication and commitment to these and other important issues."
Longtime friend Anne Preston, formerly of Stony Brook, said Bredes had a uniting presence.
"She really tried to make her community a better place, whether it was Long Island or Rochester," Preston said.
Friends and colleagues said they were shocked over Bredes' death. Her husband of 28 years, Jack Huttner – whom she met in 1979 during an anti-power plant rally – said she kept her battle with breast cancer a private one.
"She was a stubborn idealist who wouldn't compromise except in support of her goals," Huttner said. "I think that applied to her politics and her view of the world."
In addition to her husband Jack, Bredes is survived by sons Nathan, Tobias, and Gabriel; her mother, Dorothy Black of Lakewood, Ohio; brother Donald of Danville, Vt.; and sister Amy, of Port Jefferson.