Sen. Chuck Schumer
Throughout his career, Charles “Chuck” Schumer has fought to make government work for all Americans by cutting through red tape and finding common-sense solutions to challenges facing the middle- class. Chuck has become known for his tireless work to reduce crime, increase economic opportunity, and expand access to higher education, affordable health care and housing.
Although Chuck’s career has taken him from the New York State Assembly to the U.S. House of Representatives to the U.S. Senate, he still resides in Brooklyn with his wife, Iris Weinshall, and their two daughters, Jessica and Alison. He is known as one of America’s hardest working and most accessible elected officials – countless New Yorkers from all walks of life have interacted with him during his appearances at town hall meetings, parades, festivals, community events and graduations. Each year, Chuck visits all of New York’s 62 counties and is a constant presence all across New York.
The eldest of three children, Chuck was born on November 23, 1950, in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY to his parents, Abe and Selma Schumer. His father, Abe, who grew up in Utica and served as a radar operator in planes flying over the Himalayas in World War II, took over his father’s exterminating business after the war. Shaped at an early age by his father’s experiences as a small businessman, Chuck has never forgotten the difficulties faced by middle-class New Yorkers who work hard to create a better life for their families.
Chuck attended public school in Brooklyn at P.S. 197 and Madison High School; he was a hard working basketball player and a good student who became valedictorian. He also worked in a printing shop for a Brooklyn High School teacher named Stanley Kaplan, who was in the early stages of building his test preparation business. In 1967, he attended Harvard, becoming the first in his family to attend college. At first, he studied chemistry, but soon became active in the College Democrats, working on Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 Presidential campaign. After graduation, Chuck attended Harvard Law School where he further developed his commitment to a career in public service.
Early Career & Accomplishments
1974 – 1980
New York State Assembly
In 1974, Chuck returned home to Brooklyn to run for the New York State Assembly as a representative of the forty-fifth Assembly District. At the age of 23 he became the youngest member of the legislature since Theodore Roosevelt. Chuck spent six years in the Assembly, where he:
Wrote and passed legislation encouraging efficient use of rent-controlled properties;
Protected cemeteries from vandalism by writing legislation requiring they be fenced and guarded;
Limited noise pollution by banning motorcycles from residential streets between 9 pm and 8 am;
Conducted a study showing that unnecessary ambulance calls created life-threatening medical delays; and
Increased penalties for arson in houses of worship.
1980 – 1998
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1980, at age 29, Chuck was elected to represent the 9th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Over the course of his 18 years in the House, representing parts of Brooklyn and Queens, he earned a reputation as a no-nonsense crime fighter and consumer advocate, writing and helping pass some of the most important pieces of legislation of this era, including:
The 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill which put 100,000 new cops on the street, enforced “three strikes and you’re out” sentencing, and created after school programs for troubled teens;
The Violence Against Women Act, the first federal legislation protecting women from domestic abuse;
Forcing credit card companies to disclose interest rates in a now familiar chart, seen on all credit card solicitations and bills, known as the “Schumer Box”;
The Brady Bill, which instituted mandatory background checks for handgun purchases;
The Assault Weapons Ban, which outlaws the manufacture and importation of 19 types of semi-automatic weapons, including the Uzi, AK-47 and Tech-9; and
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which made blockading family planning clinics a federal crime.
Exposed a 90% increase in breakfast cereal prices in a 1995 report entitled “Consumer in a Box”, and demanded that the Justice Department investigate breakfast cereal antitrust violations;
Authored the 1992 Anti-Auto Theft Act, which requires car manufacturers to mark often-stolen parts with an indelible ID number in order to make it easier to crack down on theft. The bill also included an anti-car jacking provision; and
Sponsored the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, which organized data on crimes of bigotry, as well as the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would allow federal authorities to prosecute these offenses.
New York’s Senior Senator
Career & Accomplishments | 1998 – 2004
Fighting for All New Yorkers in the Senate
In 1998, Chuck ran for the United States Senate and, after a hard fought primary and general campaign, defeated a three-term incumbent. When the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan retired in 2000, Chuck became the state’s senior Senator. As a candidate for Senate in 1998, Chuck promised that if elected, he would visit each one of New York’s 62 counties within his first term. He kept that promise, and has since visited every county in New York State every year.
As Senator, he has made improving New York’s economy his top priority, bringing low- cost air carriers like Jet Blue and Southwest to Upstate New York and the Hudson Valley, preserving vital markets and support programs for New York State agriculture, and supporting massive investments in New York highways, subways and infrastructure. Chuck has also been a leader in:
Making generic drugs more accessible, saving consumers $70 billion over ten years;
Creating a college tuition tax deduction for middle class families;
Passing new laws to protect our children from sex offenders;
Keeping our veterans’ hospitals open and providing adequate care to our returning troops;
Holding down property taxes by delivering vital federal aid for localities struggling under back-breaking Medicaid and education costs; and
Increasing the efficiency requirements for SUVs and minivans.
In addition, Chuck has successfully fought budget cuts to New York hospitals; convinced President Clinton to bring down gas prices by releasing oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve; authored and passed the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act to help fight terrorism; and protected the environment by preventing the weakening of tough anti-pollution standards.
After the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Chuck worked tirelessly to help New York recover and rebuild, including delivering $20 billion in Federal aid to spark New York City’s revival.
Career & Accomplishments | 2004 – 2010
Delivering Results as a Senate Leader
In 2004, Chuck was re-elected to office with an historic 71% of the vote, winning 61 of New York’s 62 counties after which he was awarded a seat on the powerful Senate Finance Committee which handles Social Security, healthcare and the U.S. tax code.
Chuck was also appointed Chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC). Working with then-Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), he soon produced a stunning net gain of six seats in 2006, giving the Democrats a 51-49 seat majority.
Following the success of this election, Majority Leader Reid appointed Chuck to the Democratic Leadership team by naming him Vice Chairman of the Democratic Conference. In that role, Chuck has been a leader in protecting consumers, preserving integrity in our judicial process and defending the interests of middle-class families.
Chuck’s colleagues also reappointed him to a rare second term as Chairman of the DSCC, tasking him with expanding their slim, one-vote majority. Working with his colleagues, Chuck led the party to an additional gain of eight seats in the 2008 elections. Under Chuck’s leadership of the DSCC, Democratic membership in the Senate went from 45 to 59 seats, losing no incumbents in the process.
During 2007 and 2008, Chuck served as Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, which oversees America’s economic policies. In that position, Chuck chaired the first hearings in Congress that investigated the root causes of the mortgage and financial crisis and its impact on American families and communities. Chuck was also instrumental in securing much needed resources for foreclosure prevention and offered the first tough legislation to ban predatory subprime mortgage lending and hold unethical brokers responsible.
Throughout his second term, Chuck has been instrumental in:
Passing the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act to protect consumers from hazardous or harmful products in the wake of a year of nearly daily recalls of products ranging from toys to cribs to car tires;
Creating a $2,500 college tuition tax credit for middle class families;
Developing and passing an economic recovery package that sends tax rebates to all American filing a tax return, including senior citizens and disabled veterans;
Protecting children from online sexual predators with the passage of his bill to help keep convicted sex offenders off popular social networking sites;
Substantially increasing funding for state and local task forces dealing with internet crimes against children;
Stopping the reckless outsourcing of security operations at American ports to foreign countries;
Strengthening the national criminal background check system in response to the Virginia Tech tragedy;
Raising the minimum wage; and
Preserving the independence of U.S. Attorneys and removing politics from the courts by leading an investigation into the mass firings of U.S. Attorneys for political reasons.
In 2009, Chuck was appointed Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees campaign finance, voter registration and election law. He continued to sit on the Finance Committee; the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; and the Judiciary Committee, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration.
Career & Accomplishments | 2010 – Present
New Roles and New Responsibilities
In January 2011, at the beginning of Chuck’s third term, he took on increased responsibility as Chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) which serves to craft the Democratic agenda and unite the party’s voice in the Senate. Chuck began to mold the DPCC’s messaging arm for the Senate Democrats much in the same way he did while at the DSCC. Chuck’s ability to create policy and effectively message it beyond the Senate was instrumental in many of his colleagues’ victories in 2012.
Fall of 2012 may have been a good one for Senate Democrats, but for Chuck and many New Yorkers it was devastating. In October, Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast and left thousands of New Yorkers without heat or power and many were left homeless. Chuck took their loss the Senate floor. He pushed for emergency relief and for the federal funding essential to help New York rebuild. In January 2013, thanks to Chuck’s relentless efforts with colleagues in both the Senate and the House, President Obama signed the $50 Billion Disaster Relief and Appropriations Act on top of the $9.7 Billion National Flood Insurance Program funding President Obama authorized right after the New Year. This is the largest single amount of funding ever granted to any state, and Chuck brought it home to New York.
As Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Chuck also held the Chairmanship of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. As Chairman, Chuck was able to bring a little bit of New York to President Obama’s second inauguration held on January 21, 2013. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, a string quartet from Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, and the chorus from PS 22 made appearances, as did the best of New York’s harvest: Hudson Valley maple syrup and apples, Saratoga sparkling water, Finger Lakes cheeses and wine, more wine from Long island’s North Fork, and honey from the Rochester area.
In the spring of 2013, as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Sub-Committee on Immigration and Border Security, Chuck lead a bipartisan delegation, the Gang of Eight, in drafting a comprehensive immigration reform package: the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. By working across the aisle and gathering support from business, labor, agriculture and religious groups, Chuck spearheaded the passage of the bill both in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor, finally passing the bill with a landmark 68-32 votes in favor of reform. While the bill awaits legislative action in the House, Chuck remains a vocal advocate for comprehensive reform that will grow our economy and bring 11 million people out of the shadows.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is a proud New York Democrat. She is running a grassroots campaign to fix our economy and improve life for the middle class and working families across New York.
Born and raised in upstate New York, Kirsten got her start watching her grandmother, Polly Noonan, organize Albany women to make a difference. Those early experiences taught Kirsten the values that guide her public service to this day: hard work, idealism, honesty and bold action.
Today, Kirsten and her husband, Jonathan, are passing those values on to their two young sons, Theo and Henry. Her family is a major inspiration behind her public service career. She does not want any mother to have to worry that there will not be enough food on the table or health care for their sick child.
Kirsten was first sworn in to the U.S. Senate in January 2009 and was elected in November 2010 with more than 63 percent of the vote to fill Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s seat. In November 2012, Kirsten won her seat again, and is now serving her first full six-year term in the Senate.
Even in the face of steep challenges, Kirsten hit the ground running – leading efforts to bring more transparency and accountability to Washington and helping pass landmark legislation to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that bans gays from serving openly in the military, and provide health care and compensation to the 9/11 first responders and community survivors that are sick with diseases caused by the toxins at Ground Zero.
As senator, she has spent time in every single one of New York’s 62 counties, meeting with families and small businesses, listening to the challenges they are facing. From Brookhaven to the Bronx to Buffalo, the message is clear: New Yorkers want their leaders to find solutions to today’s most pressing problems.
That is why Kirsten’s number one priority is to create good-paying jobs across New York. Her plan include cutting taxes for the middle class and small businesses, investing in research and development and renewable energy, and upgrading infrastructure around the state.
Kirsten ran and won her first Congressional campaign in 2006 in order to tackle these pressing issues. She built the biggest grassroots campaign in the district’s history and pulled off a stunning upset, unseating an entrenched Republican incumbent.
As congresswoman, Kirsten pledged to be honest, open and upfront with the public and always stay accessible and accountable. That’s why she became the very first member of Congress to make her official daily schedule and the participants of every one of her meetings publicly available. She also launched a successful “Congress at Your Corner” series to meet her constituents at hotspots like grocery stores and coffee shops, a practice she has continued as senator.
Before being elected to Congress, Kirsten served in the Clinton administration as special counsel to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo. She graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College and received her law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. She served as a law clerk on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. As an attorney for 15 years, Kirsten worked on a wide range of legal and policy-related issues, often providing free legal representation to people who could not otherwise afford it.
Kirsten is honored to continue representing New York in the Senate. Because of her strong New York values and her proven record of accomplishment, she has been endorsed by a wide range of elected officials and civic organizations, including EMILY’s List, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NYSUT, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and twenty New York Democrats in Congress.
Kirsten remains committed to bringing her grassroots campaign to every New Yorker and working tirelessly on behalf of the Empire State.
Rep. Steve Israel
In tough times, Steve Israel has distinguished himself as a tenacious fighter on behalf of Long Islanders. He’s working every day to create new clean energy jobs, to support our local veterans and to pass common sense tax reform for Long Island families.
Steve believes that by asking the men and women of our Armed Forces to put their lives on the line to defend America, we have an obligation to care for them at home. That’s why in Congress, Steve helped secure the biggest increase in veterans’ benefits in our nation’s history, including funds to help homeless veterans and veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His efforts have also secured more than $5.5 million in overdue benefits for veterans on Long Island.
Steve understands that while we’re trying to work our way out of this economic crisis, we have to hold the financial industry accountable to prevent the next one. That’s why he wrote a bill that would have completely taken back the bonuses paid to top executives at Wall Street companies that received federal bailout funds.
As Long Island families cut back their household budgets, Steve believes the federal government should tighten its own belt. That’s why he is working to cut waste in Washington by voting to freeze Congressional pay and voting to end unfair tax breaks for large corporations that hide their assets in offshore accounts.
Steve knows that “rich” is relative and that’s why he’s fighting for tax reform to help Long Island families. On Long Island, families pay more for their property taxes, housing, energy and other costs, but they are taxed at the same rate as families in far less expensive areas. Steve believes this should be changed and is leading the fight to pass legislation that will cut taxes for families in high cost-of-living areas like Long Island.
In Congress, Steve is working to develop a comprehensive energy plan to strengthen our national security, grow our economy and protect our environment. That’s why Steve voted for a clean energy bill that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create the next generation jobs in alternative energy industries.
Rep. Gregory Meeks
Serving the people of New York’s Sixth Congressional District has been the focus of Congressman Gregory Meeks’ professional life for the past fourteen years. And during that time, he has earned the respect of his constituents, as well as both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and in New York state, as an effective, common-sense leader who gets things done.
At a time when politicians define themselves by their parties or ideologies, Congressman Meeks is a rare politician who puts solutions before partisan politics. He focuses on making government work for people, but when government is ineffective or gets in the way, he works to reform it and remove barriers that prevent people from getting ahead.
It is for those reasons, and many more, that Congressman Meeks is often described as “a rising star” and “a new generation of leadership.”
The Congressman’s achievements – from the legislation creating new opportunities in depressed areas of southeast Queens such as the establishments of $20 million in tax incentives for investments in the downtown Jamaica area; to the establishment of new commercial air service linking economically-depressed areas in upstate New York to JFK Airport in Queens; to new contracting opportunities for small minority and women owned-businesses – have touched almost every family in New York.
Elected in 1998, Congressman Meeks has been re-elected seven times by an overwhelming mandate by the people of New York’s 6th congressional district and enjoys a reputation as a consensus builder.
Today, Congressman Meeks fights, first and foremost, for policies that strengthen America’s working families. Thus he supports tax relief for working families that is paid for; eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax. He also is a strong advocate for an increase in the minimum wage. Meanwhile, Congressman Meeks believes that we should not force our children and grandchildren to pay the massive debt employed by the Bush Administration and the GOP Congress.
On the Foreign policy front, as a Member of the influential House International Relations Committee, he seeks to promote policies that strengthen America’s national security and that protect our homeland and citizens. That’s why Congressman Meeks voiced strong opposition (and voted against authority to go to war in Iraq) to President Bush’s Iraq policy.
As a Member of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Meeks has promoted policies for economic empowerment, which is what he termed as the “next civil rights movement” Whether it is access to capital, homeownership, wealth accumulation or economic development, the Congressman has been a steady and consistent champion on this important committee that has jurisdiction over all banking, securities and insurance issues. Congressman Meeks was recently appointed to Chair the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade.
With New York City being the financial capital of the world, the Congressman’s valuable input and strong record on the Committee has been recognized by some of New York’s largest employers in the financial services industry including – the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, the American Stock Exchange, Citigroup, Bank of America, New York Life, MetLife, American Express, Mastercard International, NASP (the leading African-American organization for securities professionals) and many others.
Achieving a delicate balance often not seen, Congressman Meeks has also been a strong advocate for consumers. Meeks has led the fight to protect consumers from the crime against Identity theft. He has cosponsored legislation to help protect people’s personal financial information, and has hosted several forums informing consumers how to protect themselves. In 2006, he received the National Urban League’s prestigious “Congressional Leadership Award” for exemplary public service.
Congressman Meeks earned his bachelor’s degree at Adelphi University and he received his law degree from Howard University. He is a member of the Allen AME Church in St. Albans New York and is married to Simone-Marie Meeks. He has three daughters – Ebony, Aja, and Nia and resides in St. Albans, New York.
Rep. Grace Meng
U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng is serving her first term in the United States House of Representatives. Grace represents the Sixth Congressional District of New York encompassing the New York City borough of Queens, including west, central and northeast Queens.
Grace is the first Asian-American Member of Congress from New York, and the only Representative of Asian descent on the entire east coast. She is also the first female Member of Congress from Queens since former Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro.
She is dedicated to fighting for the hardworking families of Queens by protecting Medicare and Social Security, spurring economic growth, creating jobs, ensuring access to a quality education, and increasing funding for transportation and infrastructure projects.
Grace is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. The Foreign Affairs Committee oversees United States foreign policy towards all nations around the world, and has jurisdiction over foreign aid, the State Department and key international organizations such as the United Nations.
Grace also serves on the House Small Business Committee, where she sits on two subcommittees: Contracting and Workforce – of which she is the Ranking Member – and Agriculture, Energy and Trade. The Small Business Committee, which was established to protect and assist small-business owners, has oversight of financial aid, regulatory matters and the Small Business Administration (SBA), issues critical to Queens and New York City, since small businesses are the economic engine of the region.
In addition, Grace is a founder and Co-Chair of the Kids’ Safety Caucus, the first bipartisan coalition in the House that promotes child-safety issues.
During her first year in the House, Grace scored several legislative victories, an unusual accomplishment for a new Member of Congress. Her first major legislative effort, to allow federal disaster funds to be used for rebuilding houses of worship damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, passed the House just six weeks after she was sworn in to Congress. She also secured passage of her bill to reduce the massive backlog of veterans’ disability claims, as well as legislation that better protects American diplomats serving overseas, in the wake of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Prior to serving in Congress, Grace was a member of the New York State Assembly, where she was a dedicated bridge builder and a fighter for equality. She passed laws to extend unemployment coverage during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, fought human trafficking, cracked down on those who abuse women and children, and protected seniors from rising property taxes.
Born in Corona, Queens, and raised in the Bayside section of the borough, Grace graduated from Stuyvesant High School and the University of Michigan. She then earned a law degree from Yeshiva University’s Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. Prior to entering public service, she worked as a public-interest lawyer.
Grace resides in Queens with her husband, Wayne, two sons – Tyler and Brandon – and her dog, Bounce.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez is currently serving her eleventh term as Representative for New York’s 7th Congressional District. In the 113th Congress, she is the Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee and a senior member of the Financial Services Committee.
She has made history several times during her tenure in Congress. In 1992, she was the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In February 1998, she was named Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Hispanic woman to serve as Ranking Member of a full House committee. Most recently, in 2006, she was named Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Latina to chair a full Congressional committee.
Given these achievements, her roots are humble. She was born in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico – a small town of sugar-cane fields – in 1953, and was one of nine children. Velázquez started school early, skipped several grades, and became the first person in her family to receive a college diploma. At the age of 16, she entered the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras. She graduated magna cum laude in 1974 with a degree in political science. After earning a master’s degree on scholarship from N.Y.U., Velázquez taught Puerto Rican studies at CUNY’s Hunter College in 1981.
But her passion for politics soon took hold. In 1983, Velázquez was appointed Special Assistant to Congressman Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn). One year later, she became the first Latina appointed to serve on the New York City Council.
By 1986, Velázquez served as the Director of the Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs in the United States. During that time, she initiated one of the most successful Latino empowerment programs in the nation’s history – “Atrevete” (Dare to Go for It!).
In 1992, after months of running a grassroots political campaign, Velázquez was elected to the House of Representatives to represent New York’s 7th District. Her district, which encompasses parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Lower East Side of Manhattan, is the only tri-borough district in the New York City congressional delegation. Encompassing many diverse neighborhoods, it is home to a large Latino population, with pockets of Polish communities, and parts of Chinatown.
As a fighter for equal rights of the underrepresented and a proponent of economic opportunity for the working class and poor, Congresswoman Velázquez combines sensibility and compassion, as she works to encourage economic development, protect community health and the environment, combat crime and worker abuses, and secure access to affordable housing, quality education and health care for all New York City families.
As the top Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, which oversees federal programs and contracts totaling $200 billion annually, Congresswoman Velázquez has been a vocal advocate of American small business and entrepreneurship. She has established numerous small business legislative priorities, encompassing the areas of tax, regulations, access to capital, federal contracting opportunities, trade, technology, health care and pension reform, among others. Congresswoman Velázquez was named as the inaugural “Woman of the Year” by Hispanic Business Magazine in recognition of her national influence in both the political and business sectors and for her longtime support of minority enterprise.
Although her work on the Small Business Committee and the House Financial Services Committee (where she is the most senior New York Member on the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity) keeps her busy, Congresswoman Velázquez can often be found close to home, working for the residents of her district.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
Hakeem Jeffries was born in Brooklyn Hospital and raised in Crown Heights. He is a product of New York City’s public school system, having graduated from Midwood High School, and currently lives in Prospect Heights with his family.
On November 6, 2012, Hakeem overwhelmingly won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the newly redrawn Eighth Congressional district. He will succeed a thirty-year incumbent in a district largely anchored in Brooklyn and parts of Southwest Queens.
Hakeem has recently been appointed to the Judiciary and Budget committees. In the 113th Congress, he looks forward to working on economic growth, reforming the criminal justice system, preventing gun violence and assisting neighborhoods in the district that were devastated by Super Storm Sandy.
Prior to his election to the Congress, Hakeem served for six years in the New York State Assembly. In that capacity, he authored laws that included protecting the civil liberties of law-abiding New Yorkers during police encounters, encouraging the transformation of vacant luxury condominiums into affordable homes for working families, and improving the quality of justice in the civil court system.
In 2010, Hakeem successfully sponsored legislation that prohibits the New York Police Department from maintaining an electronic database with the personal information of individuals who are stopped, questioned and frisked during a police encounter, but not charged with a crime or violation. This law is widely regarded as the only meaningful reform of the police department’s aggressive and controversial stop and frisk program.
That same year, Hakeem sponsored and championed groundbreaking civil rights legislation to end prison-based gerrymandering in New York State, a practice that undermined the democratic principle of one person, one vote. With its passage, New York became only the second state in the country to count incarcerated individuals in their home communities for purposes of legislative redistricting, rather than in the counties where they are temporarily incarcerated.
Hakeem obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he graduated with honors for outstanding academic achievement. He then received his master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Thereafter, Hakeem attended New York University School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and served on the Law Review.
Following the completion of law school, Hakeem clerked for the Honorable Harold Baer Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Prior to his election to the Assembly, he practiced law for several years at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, an internationally renowned law firm, and then served as counsel in the litigation department of two Fortune 100 companies, Viacom Inc. and CBS.
Rep. Yvette Clarke
United States Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a Brooklyn native whose roots are firmly planted in her Jamaican heritage. A product of the New York City Public School System, Rep. Clarke graduated from Oberlin College and was a recipient of the prestigious APPAM/Sloan Fellowship in Public Policy and Policy Analysis.
Rep. Clarke was first elected to Congress in November 2006 and represents the new Ninth Congressional District of New York which includes the communities of Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, Ocean Hill, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.
Prior to being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Clarke served on the New York City Council representing the 40th District in Brooklyn. She succeeded her pioneering mother, former City Council Member Una S. T. Clarke, making them the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the Council.
As the Congressional Representative of the Ninth district, she is committed to continuing the district’s legacy of excellence as set forth by the late Honorable Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman and Caribbean American elected to Congress. As an activist, a community organizer and now as a legislator, Rep. Clarke’s boldness, compassion and love for humanity has allowed her to become an effective leader and an outspoken advocate on numerous issues of great importance to her constituents.
Currently in the 113th Congress, Rep. Clarke sits on the Committees of Homeland Security, Ethics, and Small Business.
In the 111th and 112th Congress, Rep. Clarke has served on several Committees including Education and Labor, Homeland Security and Small Business.
An unwavering champion for her native Brooklyn, she has worked with non-profit organizations, local community groups and appropriators to secure millions of dollars in essential federal support for the district. As a result, major institutions received funds, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Prospect Park Alliance and the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT).
As a testament to what Representative Clarke has accomplished in her first term, she received an “A” rating from the Drum Major Institute and TheMiddleClass.org; a 100 percent rating by Peace Action, The Brady Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); and was the only Member of Congress in the New York Congressional delegation to receive an “A+” rating from the Institute of Policy Studies. She was also named After-School Hero by The After-School Corporation for her work on the House Education and Labor Committee. In May 2009, Rep. Clarke was also presented with an honorary Doctorate Law Degree from St. Francis College.
Rep. Clarke currently resides in the neighborhood where she grew up, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Congressman Jerrold Nadler was first elected to Congress in 1992, after representing the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the New York State Assembly for 16 years. He was reelected in 2012 with over 80% of the total vote.
Nadler represents New York’s 10th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Central Park, the Theater District, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Battery Park City & the Financial District, and the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, Kensington, and Borough Park, as well as parts of Dyker Heights, Midwood, Bay Ridge, Red Hook, and Sunset Park.
Nadler is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and the senior Northeastern member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. From 2007 to 2010, he had the honor of serving as the Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, and served as ranking Democrat on that Subcommittee through 2013. In 2014, he was named as ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.
Nadler is nationally known as an ardent defender of the Constitution and a congressional champion of civil rights and civil liberties, with a particular focus on women’s rights, LGBT rights, freedom of expression, due process rights, and religious rights and freedoms. Tom Robbins of the Village Voice noted that Nadler consistently “stands up for the Constitution. Nadler is just north of five feet, but on these issues, he always stands tallest of all our legislators.”
Nadler is also considered a top national expert on green and efficient transportation, and is widely known to be New York’s most vocal and effective transportation advocate. He has personally spearheaded decades-long efforts to connect New York to the nation’s freight rail system and to protect New York’s ports. James Oberstar, former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said: “Congressman Nadler is one of a very few House members in the last 40 years whom I would, without hesitation, call a treasure for the House, the nation, as well as for his district. No public policy issue escapes the meticulous attention of his inquisitive mind, nor his razor-sharp critique of both the issues of our times and of the solutions proposed.”
Additionally, Nadler has focused much of his congressional career on a wide range of other progressive matters and issues of concern to the constituents of the 10th Congressional District, including access to affordable health care and housing, safeguarding public education, boosting aid for seniors, supporting New York’s recovery post-9/11, protecting working families, strengthening New York’s economic and job outlook, and ensuring a safe, secure and peaceful Middle East. He is a lifelong and passionate supporter of Israel and her right to exist peacefully beside her neighbors. Yet, Nadler is also very much still considered a “local guy” who actively engages in community matters in order to ensure that our neighborhoods grow in a smart and sustainable way.
Widely considered a thoughtful and prolific legislator, Nadler’s policy achievements are numerous and far-reaching, and include the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the 100% cargo screening mandate for ships entering our ports, and the introduction of landmark legislation like the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal Defense for Marriage Act, and the State Secret Protection Act, which would protect legitimate state secrets while ensuring due process in our courts. Nadler has also procured hundreds of millions of dollars in key funding for New York and its vital institutions.
Nadler is credited for his strategic prowess and is often called on to be the first line of defense against right-wing legislative efforts like the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and ever-present attempts to curb women’s reproductive rights.
And Nadler proved, by directing a multi-year campaign, that the federal government misled New Yorkers on the quality of air post-9/11, laying the foundational basis for both federally-provided health and compensation for 9/11 responders and survivors, as well as for reform of our federal disaster response.
Nadler first shook the political power structure as an undergraduate at Columbia University, where he was a co-founder of the so-called “West Side Kids.” Through support for liberal and anti-Vietnam War candidates, the Kids brought together students on Manhattan’s West Side and created a political force to reform Democratic politics in the city. Through grassroots community organizing, the Kids expanded their political base by rallying for better local housing and public schools. Through the years, though Nadler has gained more experience, stature, and influence, he has not forgotten where he came from, or for whom he is fighting.
A widely quoted source of policy analysis and political commentary, Nadler’s work appears prominently in the pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Daily News and other news outlets, both national and local, and in the Huffington Post, Fire Dog Lake, and other widely-read political blogs. He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC, FOX and other major TV networks.
Over his distinguished career, Nadler has received numerous awards, from organizations as diverse as the International Association of Firefighters, the National Organization for Women, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education, and Westside Peace Action, among many others. And Nadler has also received 100% legislative ratings from dozens of prominent organizations, including the ACLU, NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, AFL-CIO, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, the National Council of Senior Citizens, and many many others.
Nadler is a graduate of Crown Heights Yeshiva, Stuyvesant High School, Columbia University, and Fordham Law School. He lives on the West Side of Manhattan with his wife, Joyce Miller. They have one son, Michael.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney
A Democrat who was first elected to Congress by unseating an entrenched Republican incumbent in the biggest upset in the country in 1992, Carolyn Maloney has been described by The New York Times as a “prolific” legislator, one of a handful who “stand out for their moxie, kind of the way New Yorkers themselves often do.” She has made her mark on Washington by standing on her strong and consistent record. Since every lawmaker in Washington knows where Carolyn stands, she has been able to fight tirelessly for New York, leading the Village Voice to call her “a tiger in the House on every dollar due New York”.
Maloney started off working as a teacher and an administrator for the New York City Board of Education. From there, she won a highly contested seat on the New York City Council. In her ten years on the Council, Maloney fought to eliminate waste and fraud in government, being the principal author of the landmark New York City Campaign Finance Act. The positions that Maloney fought for on the City Council over 25 years ago are the very same positions she champions today in congress.
Time Magazine has called her “a tenacious, resilient legislator”, and the New York Post hailed her as one of New York City’s “hardest working lawmakers”. With her hundreds of legislative accomplishments, Maloney quickly became a leader in congress, earning the respect of her colleagues and constituents.
Rep. Charles “Charlie” Rangel
Charles B. Rangel, war hero, history-making congressman, master lawmaker. A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, he made history as the first African American member of Congress to lead the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Now serving his 21st term in the House of Representatives, he has been cited as the most effective lawmaker in the House, leading all of his colleagues in passing legislation. He was a prime contributor to President Obama’s historic health care reform law.
Growing up on the other side of the tracks on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, he was transformed from high school dropout to war hero after volunteering for service in the Army during the Korean War. Wounded in an attack by waves of Communist Chinese troops, he was awarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for Valor after leading his surviving comrades from behind enemy lines.
With the aid of the G.I. Bill, he earned degrees from New York University and St. John’s University Law School. He began his public service as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and was later elected to the New York State Assembly. He came to Washington in 1971 to serve in the House after defeating the legendary Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
In Congress, following Matthew’s teaching, he has been a stalwart champion for the “least among us,” advocating powerfully and persistently to improve the lives of working people. He is a defender of veterans and has treated education as a national security issue.
A leading advocate for equal rights and equal opportunity, Congressman Rangel has boosted the incomes of millions of working families with the Earned Income Tax Credit, and pumped billions of dollars into revitalization of communities across the nation, including Harlem. Demonstrating his commitment to education, he has created financial mechanisms to construct and rehabilitate public schools across the country.
Congressman Rangel’s unparalleled foreign policy record has focused on Africa and the Caribbean. In 1986, he sounded the death knell for apartheid in South Africa with the “Rangel Amendment,” which forced the largest U.S. investors to abandon the country. He has created trading and investment opportunities for struggling nations in the Caribbean and Africa. In 2010, he successfully promoted vital investment incentives for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
Among his proudest achievements is founding the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program in the State Department, in cooperation with Howard University, which has placed more than 40 Foreign Service officers from underrepresented groups in U.S. embassies worldwide. Congressman Rangel still resides with his wife Alma in Harlem where he was born. They have two adult children and three grandchildren.
Rep. Joseph Crowley
Joe Crowley represents New York’s 14th Congressional District in the United States Congress, where he has served since 1999. The district spans across Queens and the Bronx and is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the country.
A proven leader, Joe’s hard work and effective advocacy have made him a standout member in
Congress. At the start of the 113thCongress, he was elected Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, making him the fifth highest-ranking member in the Democratic leadership of the House. Joe’s peers elevated him to this position because of his tireless efforts to advance Democratic principles and his strong commitment to the Democratic Caucus.
Joe’s advocacy for democratic values and understanding for the challenges faced by every day Americans comes from his upbringing in a working, middle class family. The second of four children, Joe was born to his parents Mary Eileen and Joseph and was raised in Woodside, Queens. Joe’s father, a first-generation American, worked as a New York City police officer while putting himself through law school at night.
Joe attended Power Memorial High School where he was a standout basketball player, musician and student. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Queens College in Political Science and Communications. Prior to his service in Congress, Joe ran a successful small business and served in the New York State Assembly for 12 years. He met his wife Kasey, a registered nurse, while preparing to participate in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa bike tour. They married in 1998 and have three children.
Joe’s parents instilled in him a strong sense of family and community and a firm belief that America is a place of opportunity. He believes the federal government should lay a foundation for Americans to succeed.
Throughout his time in public service, Joe has been on the side of working, middle class families. He has supported initiatives to make child care and higher education more affordable. Joe has also secured millions of dollars to clean up graffiti, maintain after-school programs and keep cops on the beat throughout Queens and the Bronx. Joe’s legislative agenda puts children first. He has spearheaded a range of measures to ensure federal education funds are distributed equitably; to help schools bear the cost of cleaning up PCBs; and to keep physical education as part of a kid’s daily schooling because he wants all children to have bright futures and be prepared for life in the 21st century.
From his seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Joe has worked to protect Social Security and Medicare, make health insurance more affordable and reduce taxes for middle class Americans and small businesses.
He has been a leading voice against the Republican Party’s agenda. In November 2010, Joe spearheaded the call for Republicans who support repealing the Affordable Care Act to give up their own taxpayer subsidized health care by declining enrollment in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. He has also been tireless in his efforts to bring the focus of the Republican-led House back to jobs and the economy. His “speechless” speech, which marked 100th day of the Republican’s majority in the House in 2011, went viral and served as a rallying cry for Republicans to put forward an agenda focused on creating jobs.
Joe is also committed to keeping America’s economy strong. He has worked to reduce barriers to investment for small businesses and promote public-private partnerships that will foster American innovation and entrepreneurship. Aside from supporting ways to expand opportunities for American small businesses, Joe believes we must invest in U.S. workers from the start. He supports federal government investments in our public education system as well as maintaining support for job retraining programs to ensure American workers are prepared to compete and succeed in the global marketplace.
Joe is proud of his achievements and is honored to represent Queens and the Bronx in the U.S. Congress. He looks forward to continuing to fight for seniors and middle class families throughout the 14th District and working to expand and create opportunities for New York’s small businesses and workers.
Rep. José Serrano
U.S. Representative José E. Serrano represents the Fifteenth Congressional District of New York in the Bronx. He is the only Congressman from New York City on the exclusive House Appropriations Committee and serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. This prestigious post as top Democrat on the Subcommittee allows Congressman Serrano to help oversee the budgets of multiple agencies, including the Treasury Department including the IRS; the FDIC; the District of Columbia; the Judicial branch, and other agencies. Congressman Serrano is also Senior Whip for the Minority Whip operation, a position through which he helps develop strategies to marshal support for party positions and legislation. He is an active member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and served as Chair of the Caucus from 1993-94. He is now the most senior Member of Congress of Puerto Rican descent.
Early in his tenure in the House, Serrano quickly established a legislative record that reflected, and continues to reflect, his core political values of equal opportunity and fair treatment for all citizens. In particular, Serrano believes that government should work to ensure that the prosperity of our country is shared by the neediest and most vulnerable members of our society- the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and children- in the form of participation in government, educational opportunities, access to housing and affordable health care. As a member of the Committee on Education and Labor in his first term, Serrano authored legislation, signed into law in November 1990, to provide funding for successful school dropout prevention programs.
During the 102nd Congress (1991-1992), Serrano continued to build on this record of accomplishment by introducing more legislative initiatives along these themes. His Voting Rights Language Assistance Act of 1992, signed into law, mandated that voter materials continue to be provided in different languages. He also introduced the Classroom Safety Act, which would have provided program models and grants to assist local educational agencies in efforts to reduce and prevent violent crime in elementary and secondary schools.
In 1993, Serrano joined the Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for shaping expenditures of discretionary federal funds. Because Appropriations is an exclusive Committee, he was required to give up his seat on Education and Labor. That same year he was also elected by his colleagues to serve as Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) during the 103rd Congress. As Chairman, Serrano’s strong leadership contributed to the passage of several bills of interest to Hispanics and other minorities. During this same period, the CHC helped to defeat of a number of pieces of legislation that were widely criticized as attempts at “immigrant-bashing” and veiled bigotry.
In 1995, when the House Republicans became the majority and reduced the Appropriations Committee in size, Serrano was appointed to the House Judiciary Committee, in which he served on the Subcommittee on the Constitution. The Democratic Caucus re-appointed him to the Appropriations Committee in March of 1996.
As a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, Serrano has managed to secure millions of dollars in federal funding for his Bronx Congressional District. He has directed funding to countless local initiatives, including environmental projects, improvements to Bronx parks, educational programs for disadvantaged students and displaced workers and funding for various local charitable organizations, whose goals range from providing access to the arts to developing small businesses.
Perhaps the most notable of all these projects have involved the environmental restoration of the Bronx River. Serrano has been a tireless advocate for the urban river since taking office, and was an early supporter of naming the river an American Heritage River. Through the appropriations process, furthermore, Serrano has been able to secure millions in funding, as well as technical and managerial assistance from various federal agencies, for Bronx River environmental studies and cleanup projects since fiscal year 1999. In recognition of his long record of successful advocacy on behalf of the river, the Bronx community named Congressman Serrano the Honorary Chairman of the Bronx River Golden Ball in 2003. In 2006, herring were reintroduced to the river in 2006–a species that had been gone from the river for more than 350 years. In early 2007, a beaver was found living in the Bronx River, marking the return of a species that had been not been seen in New York City in more than 200 years.
Even as Serrano has been actively engaged in all stages of Congress’s annual appropriations process, he has not lost sight of the other important issues of great concern to the residents of the Bronx.
Pushing for a Practical National Language Policy
Serrano authored the English Plus Resolution, which calls on the government to encourage all Americans to learn and use multiple languages, in addition to English. He vehemently opposes “English only” proposals because he believes that implementing such a policy would be harmful to civil rights and America’s broader national interests. In 1996, the English Plus Resolution came close to House passage, and Serrano has proposed it again in the current Congress.
Protecting Civil Liberties
Congressman Serrano has been a leading, and often lonely, voice in the House on preserving Americans’ civil liberties as federal law enforcement agencies continue to transform in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He voted against the USA PATRIOT Act, and uses his positions on his Appropriations Subcommittees to monitor the activities of the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. In countless pieces of correspondence and numerous verbal exchanges during Subcommittee hearings, Serrano has unhesitatingly challenged agency heads on what he has often perceived as a systematic effort to curtail Americans’ rights.
Advocating a More Sensible Approach to Cuba
Since his earliest days in Congress, Congressman Serrano has been actively involved in ending the embargo against Cuba. He has sponsored legislation and worked tirelessly to educate other Members of Congress about how the embargo harms American businesses and American farmers. While Serrano was once part of a tiny group in Congress to support a changed approach to Cuba, growing numbers of Members join Congressman Serrano in signing on to his Bridges to the Cuban People Act each year.
Promoting a Rational, Humane Immigration Policy
Serrano’s most recent immigration-related legislative proposal enacted into law responded to the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. The law granted posthumous citizenship to non-citizens who died as a result of the September 11th attacks and who had already initiated the process to become U.S. citizens. Serrano succeeded in having the bill incorporated into a larger bill, which signed into law (P.L. 107-77) at the end of 2001. He is a consistent supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, and has repeatedly introduced the Child Citizen Protection Act, which would allow judges to exercise discretion in deportation cases that involve parents or guardians of citizen children.
Rep. Eliot Engel
Eliot Engel, the son of an ironworker and a homemaker, was born in the Bronx and raised in public housing. He attended New York City public schools, earned a BA degree from Hunter-Lehman College, an MA degree from Lehman College of the City University of New York, and later earned his law degree attending New York Law School at nights.
Eliot was a teacher and guidance counselor in the New York public school system.
He became active in his community and a served as a leader in neighborhood organizations, working to make lives better. Eliot earned a reputation as a hard working, dedicated problem solver.
His community involvement resulted in Eliot becoming a candidate for State Assembly in a 1977 Special Election. As an independent reform Democrat, he ran as a third party candidate against the hand picked candidate of the old Bronx Democratic Party machine and a Republican. Eliot won by 107 votes.
Eliot was elected to Congress in 1988, defeating an incumbent in the Democratic Primary and again in the General Election. Again, he was the independent reform Democratic candidate.
He has District Offices in the Bronx and Westchester to help people and communities solve problems. Hundreds of community problems have been solved and thousands of people have been assisted. Eliot believes that every problem solved, whether large or small, improves all of our lives.
Eliot has used his experience to bring back millions in Federal funds to our communities: New Senior housing has been built, repairs have been made to our schools and streets, bridges are under construction, our mass transit has been improved, community health care services expanded and preserved, and funds secure for flood control and our police and fire departments. His work is making a difference.
In Congress, Eliot is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Health and Subcommittee Energy and Power subcommittees. He is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and ranking Democrat on the Western Hemisphere subcommittee
He is the founder and Co-Chair of the House Oil and National Security Caucus and a member of the 9/11 Health Caucus and the Pro-Choice Caucus.
Eliot has earned the highest ratings during his service in Congress from such diverse groups the Alliance for Retired Americans, NARAL, League of Conservation Voters, AFL-CIO, Disabled American Veterans, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and American Public Health Association.
Rep. Nita Lowey
Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey is seeking re-election in New York’s 17th Congressional District, including Rockland County and most of central and northern Westchester County. Elected twelve times by the people of the Hudson Valley, Lowey first joined the United States House of Representatives in 1989.
Lowey is a leading national proponent for strengthening our economy, balancing the federal budget, improving math and science education for children, providing quality, affordable health care, promoting biomedical research, safeguarding a women’s right to choose, achieving independence from foreign oil, and protecting the environment.
Among Lowey’s many personal accomplishments are:
• Helping small businesses grow and create more new permanent jobs through an increase in federal loan limits.
• Passing the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act to bolster federal research and combat potential environmental causes of breast cancer.
• Creating a Homeland Security office dedicated to improving communications for First Responders.
• Protecting the Public Broadcasting System and the National Endowment for the Arts, including such beloved programming as Sesame Street.
• Authoring and adopting a new food allergen labeling law called by The New York Times “an all too rare example . . . of bipartisan cooperation to serve the public good.”
• Leading the fight for a national DWI standard of .08 to crack down on drinking and driving and improve the safety of our roads.
• Co-Founding the Hudson River Caucus to ensure protection for this vital regional and national resource.
• Obtaining record federal support for battered women’s shelters.
• Expanding after-school education programs, so that they now provide a safe learning environment for nearly 1.8 million children.
• Providing federal protection for veterans memorials.
As the Ranking Member and former Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Lowey plays a vital leadership role in strengthening America’s alliances around the world and ensuring that the United States meets the challenge of global leadership. In the aftermath of September 11th, Lowey was chosen to be a Member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security. She has fought successfully to provide First Responders with resources to confront emergencies, to obtain a fair share of federal homeland security funding for New York State, and to bolster security at critical facilities, including our airports, nuclear plants, and ports.
Lowey has been called “courageous” by the New York Times and recognized by the New York Daily News as one of “New York’s key Members of Congress.” Newsday called her “terrific” and said “she delivers for New York.” And Congressional Quarterly cited her as one of the 50 most effective Members of Congress.
Lowey was born in the Bronx; graduated from the Bronx High School of Science; and received a Bachelor’s Degree from Mount Holyoke College. She served as Assistant Secretary of State for the State of New York before being elected to Congress. Nita and Stephen Lowey, who reside in Harrison, are proud of their three children and eight grandchildren.
Rep. Sean Maloney
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney proudly represents New York’s 18th district in the U.S. House of Representatives after he was first elected in November 2012.
Sean currently serves on the House Agriculture Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which is important to creating jobs and boosting the economy in the Hudson Valley. His priorities in the 113th Congress include strengthening the health and financial security of America’s retirees, creating economic opportunity for New York families, and balancing the budget the right way.
Sean has a distinguished background in business and public service. Sean served as a senior advisor in President Bill Clinton’s White House as part of a team that balanced the budget and paid down the debt, all while creating over eight hundred thousand jobs here in New York.
When Sean left the White House, he built his own business from scratch. His high-tech startup created hundreds of New York jobs.
Sean then served as a senior staff member to two Democratic governors of New York, focusing on education and infrastructure projects. He oversaw 13 state agencies and departments, including those responsible for all homeland security, state police and emergency management operations.
Sean and Randy, his partner of over 20 years, have 3 children together. He currently resides in Cold Spring, NY.
Rep. Paul Tonko
Congressman Paul D. Tonko is serving his second term in Congress representing the 21st District of New York. His district includes all of Albany, Schenectady, Montgomery and Schoharie Counties and parts of Saratoga, Rensselaer and Fulton Counties. Prior to serving in Washington, DC, Paul has nearly two and a half decades of administrative, legislative and policy experience from both the New York State Assembly from 1983 to 2007 and as President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) from 2007 to 2008.
Congressman Tonko is a nationally recognized expert on energy issues. He is a mechanical and industrial engineer by training. Prior to leaving the Assembly to join NYSERDA, Paul served as chairman of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Energy. While there, he fought to protect consumers, tried to stop utility deregulation and worked to upgrade our aging electric grid. During his time at NYSERDA, Paul worked to advance an aggressive clean energy agenda for businesses and residents throughout New York State. Congressman Tonko has been a strong voice for responsible energy policy, using our generation capacity in Upstate New York for job growth, and leveraging the assets of the Capital Region to lead the nation in clean energy jobs and technology innovation.
In Congress, he is a member of the Natural Resources Committee – where he works to promote clean energy jobs and protect the environment.
Congressman Tonko is also a member of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which merges his energy expertise with his environmental agenda. He is the Ranking Member on the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee – which has jurisdiction over all non-military federal research and development. Serving as well on the subcommittee on Energy and Environment Paul hopes to spur an environment where innovation and cutting-edge research and design spur economic development and job creation in the 21st Congressional District.
Building on his work in the New York State Assembly, where he fought for one of the nation’s strongest mental health parity laws (known as “Timothy’s Law”), Paul has always promoted fair and equitable health care policies that strengthen our communities and protect our most vulnerable citizens. He has been a strong advocate for protecting Medicare and ensuring the stability and longevity of Social Security.
Congressman Tonko also has strong ties to local government, which he sees as a crucial partner in delivering programs and services to constituents. At the age of 26, Paul was the youngest person in the history of Montgomery County to be elected to the county’s Board of Supervisors. Until 1981, he served as chairman of that body. Prior to his election to the Assembly in 1983, Paul was an engineer in the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and also served on the staff of the Department of Public Service (DPS). Paul has been a longtime member of the Public Employees Federation (PEF) and proudly serves as the first PEF member elected to Congress.
As an advocate for a “green economy” and “green-collar jobs”, Congressman Tonko has promoted wind development in Upstate New York and successfully lobbied GE to locate their growing GE Wind operations in Schenectady, NY.
Rep. Daniel Maffei
Dan’s family came to the Syracuse area four generations ago when his great grandfather, Carmine Maffei moved from Italy. Carmine later earned his American citizenship fighting for the United States in World War I. Since then Maffeis have worked in factories, owned small businesses and been educators and social workers.
Dan grew up on Allen Street and Scottholm Terrace in Syracuse’s 17th Ward, and is a proud graduate of Nottingham High School. Dan is married to Abby Davidson Maffei, a manager at the international humanitarian organization CARE.
During college Dan worked at his grandfather’s electroplating business on Burnett Avenue in Syracuse. Since graduating, he has been a reporter for Channel 9 (now WSYR-TV) here in Syracuse, as well as a communications and policy advisor for Senators Bill Bradley and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Immediately before being elected to Congress in 2008, he worked as Senior Vice President of Pinnacle Capital Management, LLC, a Syracuse area investment firm.
In Congress Dan fought to improve the lives of Central New Yorkers by increasing access to quality, affordable healthcare, and focusing on bringing jobs to the area through smart investment in infrastructure.
In 2011 and 2012 he taught at the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Rep. Louise Slaughter
Louise Slaughter has truly earned her reputation as a straight-shooter and tough fighter for the middle class. She has delivered results here at home, saving jobs at Delphi, bringing a high-tech bio-science lab to the University of Rochester, and working to make our district a national leader on fuel-cell manufacturing. She has also been a force for change against the inaction of Congress. She’s launched multiple investigations into public corruption and passed a law outlawing insider trading by members of Congress. She’s stood up to military contractors who were supplying poor-quality body armor to our troops in battle and successfully got 16,000 pieces of body armor recalled and replaced with safer armor. She is leading the fight to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare from cuts and privatization schemes. She has been a fighter for women’s health and women’s rights for her entire career in public service. And she is one the nation’s fiercest opponents of unfair trade laws that ship American jobs overseas. Louise has fought for legislation to stop taxpayer subsidies for corporations that outsource our jobs, and instead, has introduced a Made-in-America agenda that levels the playing field for American workers and manufacturers. Louise takes on the fights no one else will, and gets results that no one else can.
Rep. Brian Higgins
The story of Brian Higgins’s life is a uniquely American story. A child of immigrant and first-generation American parents, he watched his family achieve the middle-class American dream through hard work and perseverance.
Born to working class parents in South Buffalo, New York, Brian Higgins was raised by his father Dan, a skilled tradesman, labor leader and later an elected and appointed official, and his mother Mary (Breen), a former schoolteacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Buffalo’s Old First Ward. Together, the Higgins family – older sister Trish, brothers Mark, Tim, Brian and Danny, along with Mary’s youngest brother Mike Breen – came of age on South Buffalo’s Milford Street. Brian’s grandparents came to America from counties Mayo and Kerry in Ireland, and his paternal grandfather was the first of a long line of Higgins family bricklayers.
“My grandfather came here from Ireland as an orphan in the hull of a ship,” Brian says, “eager to escape the poverty and persecution his people faced in their homeland and full of anticipation for the life that he could build in America.”
As a youngster, Brian and his brothers worked as laborers for his father and uncles on weekend side jobs they took on to help make ends meet. On those side jobs, his father and uncles were paid by the job, and Brian remembers carrying many bricks in the dusk hours, and even by the light of his father’s car headlights. While he learned the value of hard work, Brian also learned the lesson of working a job completely, from start to finish, and has employed that lesson as he has shepherded public projects from the drawing board to their eventual completion.
Brian tells the story like this: “My father and uncle would never teach us how to lay brick; if we learned the trade, they figured, they would lose their laborers. But we were there for another reason: my dad and his brothers wanted us to see how hard they worked, and to know that with hard work and a good education we had limitless potential that would provide us an opportunity to give something back to the community that gave us so much.
“There were simple lessons in their actions that served us so well; by example, they taught us that by working hard, being honest, loving your family and giving something back to your community, our opportunities were limitless.”
Brian’s father and uncles also demonstrated the value of union membership and solidarity. During the 1950s, Brian’s uncle Jack Higgins was the President of the Buffalo Federation of Labor (BFL) and oversaw the merger that resulted in the Buffalo AFL-CIO. In addition, Brian’s uncle Jim Higgins served as President of the Bricklayers Local 45. Brian’s father Dan Higgins was active in the local as well. Dan Higgins later served as a member of the Buffalo Common Council, and later was appointed by New York Governor Hugh Carey as a Commissioner of the New York State Workers Compensation Board, where his appointment was one traditionally reserved for a representative of Organized Labor.
Brian Higgins was elected in his own right to the Buffalo Common Council in 1987. As Councilman, Brian was rated the best Buffalo lawmaker in a 1993 Buffalo News survey of 350 Western New York business and community leaders. Brian was rated number one in fourteen of eighteen categories, with highest individual marks were for “intelligence,” “honesty,” “hard work,” and “effectiveness.”
In January 1995, Brian was admitted to Harvard University and awarded the inaugural Western New York Harvard Graduate fellowship, and in June 1996 received a Master of Arts degree in Public Policy and Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Also an alumnus of Buffalo State College, Brian completed graduate and undergraduate studies in history and political science, respectively. Brian also served as a lecturer in the History and Economics departments at Buffalo State College, instructing undergraduates in courses on state and local government, as well as on the economic history of Buffalo and Western New York. Brian also serves as Historian for the Irish-American Legislators Society of New York, an organization of state legislators, past and present, of Irish-American descent.
Brian Higgins was elected to the New York State Assembly for the 145th District in November 1998. As Assemblyman, Brian made economic development and job creation a key focus of his service. Brian believes that the revitalization of the dilapidated Buffalo waterfront is a critical step toward a successful effort. Working with governmental partners on the federal, state and local levels – Democrats and Republicans alike – Brian has secured nearly $20 million in state funding to revitalize lands then controlled by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), including the area commonly known as “Gallagher Beach.” Brian led the effort to create a new state park along the Outer Harbor on the beach site – a proposal endorsed by the governor in 2002 and included in his 2003-04 proposed state budget.
In November of 2004 Brian was first elected to serve as the Congressman representing New York’s 27th District, which includes a portion of Erie County and all of Chautauqua County.
Brian is a recipient of the Judge John D. Hillary Scholarship Award recognizing his commitment to education and community, and was a member of the inaugural Business First “Forty Under Forty” class, recognizing his professional success and community involvement at an early age.
Brian and his wife Mary Jane — a special education teacher in the Buffalo Public School system — are the proud parents of two young children, John and Maeve. They are parishioners at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in South Buffalo.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
Eric Schneiderman was elected the 65th Attorney General of New York State in November 2010 with strong support from New York voters.
As Attorney General, Eric has gone after shadowy outside groups that want to flood New York elections with dark money, held law-breaking banks accountable for actions that helped bring our economy to its knees, cracked down on the prescription drug epidemic plaguing New York communities, and brought to justice over 40 corrupt public officials.
A lifelong activist in the pro-choice movement, Attorney General Schneiderman has been an absolute supporter of a woman’s right to choose and is using all the tools at his disposal to enforce state and federal laws protecting that right. Eric is also protecting our environment by forcing polluters to clean up the State’s waterways and working with the federal government to improve air quality standards.
Prior to his election as Attorney General, Schneiderman was a leader in the New York State Senate. He passed sweeping ethics reforms, chaired the committee to expel a corrupt senator for the first time in modern history, led the effort to reform the draconian Rockefeller drug laws, and cracked down on health insurance companies seeking to deny coverage to vulnerable
Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli
Thomas P. DiNapoli has proudly served as the New York State Comptroller since 2007. He is known for his steadfast leadership, integrity and independence.
As State Comptroller, Tom has aggressively fought misuse of public resources, strengthened one of the nation’s top public pension funds, and consistently spoken out against fiscal gimmicks, imprudent actions and government inefficiency. Tom has been dedicated to making government more accountable and transparent to the people for more than thirty-five years.
A diligent fiduciary of the state pension fund, Tom has wisely overseen its operations and the state pension fund is now at an all-time high of more than $160 billion. He changed the way the fund operates to increase transparency, ensuring the strongest investment performance and ethical operations possible. He instituted the most stringent reporting requirements on investments, fees and other information. He barred investment firms contributing to his campaign from doing business with the state pension fund and was a leading voice in getting the Securities and Exchange Commission to impose tough new rules on “pay to play” to prevent improper influence on investment decisions. He more than doubled the state pension fund’s commitment to investing in New York companies to more than $1 billion.
Tom also protects taxpayer funds from waste, fraud and abuse. Since 2007, his audits have identified billions in misuse, waste and savings. As an Assemblyman, he helped draft and pass stronger school district accountability laws in response to the scandals that exposed the theft of millions of taxpayer dollars on Long Island. As Comptroller, he completed a five-year school accountability project, which involved auditing all 733 school districts and BOCES in the state. In 2012, he launched a series of audits that found widespread abuse of public funds by special education contractors, resulting in several criminal referrals, felony arrests and restitution.
He is known for providing an independent, credible analysis of government finances. In January 2013, his office launched a Fiscal Monitoring System to rate communities on their fiscal condition, sending an early warning to those in trouble. He is also shedding light on the issues that cause communities to face fiscal stress in today’s tough economy. He has consistently advocated for budget and debt reform to give New York State a more secure fiscal future.
Trusted Public Servant
Tom began his career in public service began when he was elected as a trustee of the Mineola Board of Education, becoming the first eighteen year old in New York State to hold public office. Prior to becoming State Comptroller, Tom represented the 16th Assembly District in northwestern Nassau County for two decades. During his tenure in the Assembly, he sponsored legislation that helped Nassau County to emerge from serious fiscal distress and restore fiscal responsibility. Early in his career, he was a manager in the telecommunications industry. He holds a master’s degree from The New School University’s Graduate School of Management and Urban Professions. A lifelong resident of Nassau County, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history magna cum laude from Hofstra University in Hempstead.
Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Democratic Conference Leader
Andrea Stewart-Cousins was overwhelmingly elected by her colleagues to serve as Leader of the Democratic Conference in December 2012, making New York State history as the first woman to ever lead a legislative conference. She was first elected to the State Senate in 2006, representing the 35th District in Westchester.
Senator Stewart-Cousins has been a trailblazer throughout her career, fighting for human rights; quality education; accessible and affordable health care; and making government more efficient, transparent and accountable to all its citizens.
A few of her accomplishments include the passage of the Election Reform Legislative Package, working to ensure the Power for Jobs program remained permanent and leading the fight on women’s health by sponsoring the Reproductive Health Act in the Senate.
Under her leadership, the Democratic Conference will continue to lead the way on the issues that matter most to New Yorkers and build a bright future for generations to come.
Senator Mike Gianaris, Chair New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee
As Chair of the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Michael Gianaris oversees all committee activities. His work is particularly focused on directing Senate Dems’ fundraising efforts, providing our candidates with the resources and infrastructure they need to wage winning campaigns. In 2012, his first election cycle as Chair, he led Senate Dems to tremendous success, with a gain of four new seats.
Senator Gianaris also serves as Deputy Leader of the Democratic Conference, first elected to the Senate in 2010, representing the 12th District in Queens. Prior to that, he spent 10 years as a Member of the State Assembly, as the first Greek-American elected to office from New York City.
During his time in the legislature, Senator Gianaris has built a reputation as a leading reformer, working to combat both dysfunction and corruption in state government. He has been a tireless advocate for redistricting and campaign finance reforms. His long-standing support of same-sex marriage was key to the passage of the Marriage Equality Act. Senator Gianaris has also authored important pieces of legislation such as his Energy Security Act, the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights and the Clean Energy Law, amongst others.
He currently sits on both the Finance and Rules Committees and is the ranking Democratic Member of the Ethics Committee.
Joe Morelle, New York State Assembly Majority Leader
Having lived in the same Irondequoit neighborhood most of his life, Joe Morelle’s passion in fighting for Monroe County families is borne from his deep love for his community.
Born in 1957, Joe is a graduate of Eastridge High School, and received his bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Geneseo. He is an inductee of the Eastridge High School Hall of Fame and the State University of New York Alumni Honor Roll. Joe and his wife, Mary Beth, have three children. Mary Beth teaches in the East Irondequoit School District, which all three Morelle children have attended.
Since his election to the New York State Assembly in 1990, Joe has authored more than 200 laws and established himself as a leader on the issues that matter most to the people of Upstate New York. Joe is particularly recognized for his efforts to improve New York’s business climate. That is especially true in Upstate New York, which has experienced severe job and population losses since the early 1990s. A former small business owner himself, Joe is a lifelong Upstate resident who understands the region’s unique challenges.
In January 2013, Joe Morelle was honored to be appointed Majority Leader of the Assembly by Speaker Sheldon Silver. As Majority Leader, Joe is responsible for the day-to-day operational duties of the Assembly chamber including running the floor during debates. In addition, Joe is a member of the Rules Committee.
Prior to becoming Majority Leader, Joe served as chair of the Assembly’s standing committees on Insurance, Tourism, Small Business and Ethics. He has held positions on the Ways and Means, Economic Development and Higher Education committees.
Joe’s career in the Assembly is the latest phase in a long history of public service. In 1983, he was elected to the Monroe County Legislature, where he eventually served as vice president and assistant majority leader. He served there until his successful bid for the Assembly’s 132nd District seat in 1990. The district today comprises the Charlotte, Maplewood and North Winton Village sections of the City of Rochester and the towns of Irondequoit and Brighton.
County Democratic Chairs
Albany County: Matthew Clyne
Allegany County: Mike McCormick
Bronx County: Carl Heastie
Broome County: Jim Testani
Cattaraugus County: Joyce Melfi
Cayuga County: Kate Lacey
Chautauqua County: Norman Greene
Chemung County: Susan Skidmore
Chenango County: Bethany Kosmider
Clinton County: Patrick McNeil
Columbia County: Martin D. Mannix, Jr.
Cortland County: Cyndy Hall
Delaware County: Sandy Price
Dutchess County: Tom Schimmerling
Erie County: Elisa Sumner
Essex County: Jeremy Zellner
Franklin County: Kathy M. Fleury
Fulton County: Ed Jasewicz
Genesee County: Lorie J. Longhany
Greene County: Doreen Davis
Hamilton County: Linda M. Mitchell
Herkimer County: Richard Souza
Jefferson County: Ronald Cole
Kings County: Frank R. Seddio
Lewis County: Linda Sandri
Livingston County: Judith Hunter
Madison County: Michael Oot
Monroe County: Joe Morelle
Montgomery County: Bethany Schumann-McGhee
Nassau County: Jay S. Jacobs
New York County: Keith Wright
Niagara County: Nick Forster
Oneida County: Mitch Ford
Onondaga County: Mark English
Ontario County: John Hurley
Orange County: Jonathan Jacobson
Orleans County: Jeanne Crane
Oswego County: Mike Kunzwiler
Otsego County: Richard D. Abbate
Putnam County: Cathy Croft
Queens County: Joseph Crowley
Rensselaer County: Thomas W. Wade
Richmond County: John P. Gulino
Rockland County: Kristen Stavisky
St. Lawrence County: Mark J. Bellardini
Saratoga County: Todd Kerner
Schenectady County: Brian L. Quail
Schoharie County: Cliff Hay
Schuyler County: Dale Walter
Seneca County: Theodore H. Young
Steuben County: Shawn D. Hogan
Suffolk County: Richard H. Schaffer
Sullivan County: Darryl Kaplan
Tioga County: Patricia Bence
Tompkins County: Irene W. Stein
Ulster County: Frank Cardinale
Warren County: Lynne Boecher
Washington County: Sheila A. Comar
Wayne County: Mark Alquist
Westchester County: Reginald A. LaFayette
Wyoming County: Harold J. Bush, Jr.
Yates County: Carolyn M. Schaeffer