Meet the new New York State Senate members

The New York State Senate.
The New York State Senate.
Mike Groll
The New York State Senate.
Power List

Meet the new New York State Senate members

Speaking to each new lawmaker about their top priorities.
Monica Martinez
Monica Martinez
Monica Martinez (D)
District 3 (Long Island)

Top priority: Safer gun laws, school funding, safer communities, referendums on sewer expansion and passing the Reproductive Health Act

How I will govern differently: Sen. Thomas Croci served the 3rd to the best of his ability. We applaud him for his service to our great nation. We will listen to our constituents and get work done for the 3rd.

If I were an animal: Lion

Birthday: Aug. 13

Previous job/occupation: Education


Previous offices held: Suffolk County legislator

Replaces: Thomas Croci (R)

Place of birth: El Salvador

Current residence: Brentwood

James Gaughran
James Gaughran
James Gaughran (D)
District 5 (Long Island)

Top priority: Reducing the burden of property taxes on Long Islanders. With the impending cap on SALT deductions by the federal government, Long Islanders are desperate for property tax relief.

How I will govern differently: I look forward to working to reducing the burden of unfunded mandates on Long Islanders that have driven up property taxes while bringing our communities the fair share of funding, especially school aid, from Albany that they deserve. I’m eager to work across the aisle and with my colleagues in state and local government to pass the progressive legislation that voters have demanded.

Political hero: President Theodore Roosevelt

If I were an animal: A giraffe, because I’m tall, have a large heart and have a keen sense of vision, which will help me as I help lead the Senate toward providing real relief to overburdened Long Islanders.

Birthday: Jan. 5

Previous job/occupation: Attorney in private practice, chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority

Twitter: @Gaughran4Senate

Previous offices held: Suffolk County legislator, Huntington councilman

Replaces: Carl Marcellino (R)

Place of birth: Manhasset, raised in Dix Hills

Current residence: Northport

Kevin Thomas
Kevin Thomas
Kevin Thomas (D)
District 6 (Long Island)


Top priority: My top priority of 2019 is to be a strong representative for the people who so graciously elected me to serve as New York state senator in the 6th Senate District. I hope to pass legislation that will be beneficial to and help to improve the quality of life of my constituents.

How I will govern differently: I will be accessible and represent the increasingly diverse population of Senate District 6.

Political hero: President Barack Obama

If I were an animal: I would be an eagle because I’m able to look at the big picture but also focus on the small details.

Birthday: Sept. 10

Previous job/occupation: Civil rights attorney

Twitter: @KevinThomasNY

Previous offices held: None

Replaces: Kemp Hannon (R)

Place of birth: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Current residence: Levittown

Anna Kaplan
Anna Kaplan
Anna Kaplan (D)
District 7 (Long Island)

Top priority: Sensible gun control legislation

How I will govern differently: I will work very hard to make good on my promises and deliver results for my constituents on Long Island, and across the state.

Political hero: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If I were an animal: A horse – they’re beautiful and graceful, but also strong and not afraid to work.

Birthday: Aug. 23

Previous job/occupation: North Hempstead councilwoman

Twitter: @AnnaMKaplan

Previous offices held: North Hempstead councilwoman

Replaces: Elaine Phillips (R)

Place of birth: Tabriz, Iran

Current residence: Great Neck

John Liu
John Liu
John Liu (D)
District 11 (New York City)

Top priority: Protecting women’s health

How I will govern differently: It’s my firm belief that the best way to achieve the best results for the people is through consultation and collaboration and never “my way or the highway.”

Political hero: John F. Kennedy, my namesake

If I were an animal: Definitely not a snake because the state Senate has its own snake decapitator.

Birthday: Jan. 8

Previous job/occupation: Professor

Twitter: @LiuNewYork

Previous offices held: New York City councilman, New York City comptroller

Replaces: Tony Avella (D)

Place of birth: Taiwan

Current residence: Queens

Jessica Ramos
Jessica Ramos
Jessica Ramos (D)
District 13 (New York City)

Top priority: My immediate priority is voting “yes” on the Reproductive Health Act by Jan. 22. As chair of the Senate Labor Committee, my goal is to pass the Public Works bill, the Elevator Safety Act, protect our scaffold law, address safe staffing to help our nurses, protect our call centers and more.

How I will govern differently: I will serve consistently as an unabashed Working Families Democrat, who fights for all my neighbors.

Political hero: Raised by liberal Colombian parents, I was taught about Jorge Eliécer Gaitán early on in my life. He was a (Colombian) presidential candidate who was assassinated in 1948, sparking the Colombian civil war that just ended last year. He was a progressive ahead of his time and he still inspires me every day.

If I were an animal: I’d be a tiger, because I trust my instincts.

Birthday: June 27

Previous job/occupation: Director of Latino media for the city of New York, activist for immigrants and workers’ rights in the labor movement

Twitter: @jessicaramos

Previous offices held: Democratic district leader in the 39th Assembly District, Part A

Replaces: Jose Peralta (D)

Place of birth: Elmhurst, Queens and raised in Astoria, Queens

Current residence: Jackson Heights, Queens

Julia Salazar
Julia Salazar
Julia Salazar (D)
District 18 (New York City)

Top priority: With the rent laws expiring in June, my top priority this session is for us to finally pass rent laws that help and empower tenants across the state. We need to repeal deregulatory policies like vacancy decontrol and fight to eliminate (major capital improvement)-induced increases that unfairly burden tenants. I’m also introducing a bill that would implement a good cause eviction policy to ensure that tenants whose apartments are currently excluded from rent regulations will be entitled to a renewal lease, allowing more New Yorkers to stay in their homes without fear of eviction.

How I will govern differently: I don’t want to dwell on the shortcomings of my predecessor; I will say that I will remain fully accountable and attentive to the communities I represent. For me that means treating this as a full-time position, even after the session ends in June. It means rejecting the influence of corporate interests and prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable. It means critically considering the problems that our communities face and advocating for real solutions, departing from the policies that have failed us.

Political hero: One person I really admire is Kshama Sawant, a democratic socialist City Council member in Seattle. She’s demonstrated all of the qualities that I admire in a political leader: courage to pursue bold and unprecedented social change, integrity, a commitment to empowering the working class and marginalized.

If I were an animal: A swan. Being able to fly would be sweet; they’re mostly herbivorous. They’re pretty; they’re social creatures.

Birthday: Dec. 30

Previous job/occupation: Community organizer

Twitter: @JuliaCarmel__

Previous offices held: None

Replaces: Martin Malavé Dilan (D)

Place of birth: Miami, Florida

Current residence: Bushwick, Brooklyn

Zellnor Myrie
Zellnor Myrie
Zellnor Myrie (D)
District 20 (New York City)

Top priority: My top priority is affordable housing. Brooklyn is facing an affordability crisis that uproots families and threatens communities. In 2017 alone, more than 1,400 Brooklyn apartment units were pushed out of rent stabilization – representing thousands of our neighbors who can no longer afford to live in their own homes. State-level policies that favor developers over tenants are behind this crisis, and Central Brooklyn’s 20th state Senate District is at the epicenter.

How I will govern differently: Nothing about my public service is more important to me than serving my community. That’s why I want my term to take community outreach and constituency services to new heights. My colleagues and I are already planning exciting ways to make sure that we are responsive to and engaged with each of the diverse communities in creative and effective ways. Stay tuned.

Political hero: Barack Obama. He was the first person I ever cast a vote for, and it was incredibly powerful to see someone who looked like me ascend to the highest office in the land.

If I were an animal: Ever since I was a kid, I loved big cats like leopards, wildcats, including, yes, black panthers. I just loved how they quietly stalked around, yet also wielded so much power.

Birthday: Nov. 3

Previous job/occupation: Associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell

Twitter: @zellnor4ny

Previous offices held: None

Replaces: Jesse Hamilton (D)

Place of birth: Brooklyn

Current residence: Brooklyn

Andrew Gounardes
Andrew Gounardes
Andrew Gounardes (D)
District 22 (New York City)

Top priority: We released 19 policy platforms during the campaign and many of those platforms were developed through the conversations I had with people standing outside subway stops and knocking on doors. Reforming our broken public transit system, making our subway stations more accessible, pedestrian safety and the expansion of speed cameras throughout the city.

How I will govern differently: Our campaign was one of inclusion not exclusion. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for me or not. My promise is that you will be heard and we will do everything in our power to help where we can. I have always said that I plan to put my constituents, not special interests, first.

Political hero: Funny enough, during the campaign, we posted quotes from political leaders we admire (even some who were fictitious, like “West Wing” characters), but I keep coming back to Robert F. Kennedy. Time and again, I find myself revisiting his speech to students at Stellenbosch University in South Africa on June 7, 1966, where he said that we must “remind ourselves every day that we who diet have a never-ceasing obligation to those who starve.”

If I were an animal: An owl. Being Greek, owls are associated with the goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom. The owl has the ability to see what’s usually hidden to most. When the spirit of this animal guides you, you can see the true reality, beyond illusion and deceit. These are all qualities that will serve me well while serving the people of my district and all New Yorkers.

Birthday: July 8

Previous job/occupation: General counsel for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

Twitter: @agounardes

Previous offices held: None

Place of birth: Brooklyn

Current residence: Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Robert Jackson
Robert Jackson
Robert Jackson (D)
District 31 (New York City)

Top priority: Fully funding public education

How I will govern differently: I will serve all my diverse constituents by listening carefully to them and acting on their behalf in Albany. I also won’t caucus with the Republicans.

Political hero: Shirley Chisholm

If I were an animal: A wolf, because they work together to take down enemies bigger than the individual

Birthday: Dec. 18

Previous job/occupation: Downstate director of the New York State Public Employees Federation

Twitter: @RJackson_NYC

Previous offices held: New York City councilman, president of New York City Community School Board 6

Replaces: Marisol Alcantara (D)

Place of birth: Harlem, Manhattan

Current residence: Washington Heights, Manhattan

Alessandra Biaggi
Alessandra Biaggi
Alessandra Biaggi (D)
District 34 (New York City)

Top priority: Registering as many 18-year-olds to vote as humanly possible in my district.

How I will govern differently: I ran as a Democrat and will actually serve as a Democrat and vote with my fellow Democrats to ensure I serve all the people of my district and that all the previously blocked legislation that will benefit the people of my district will now pass.

Political hero: My grandmother, Marie Biaggi, who was a community organizer.

If I were an animal: Lion, because they are wild, relentless fighters that don’t concern themselves with the opinions of sheep.

Birthday: May 20

Previous job/occupation: Attorney, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Chamber, Counsel’s Office

Twitter: @Biaggi4NY, @SenatorBiaggi

Previous offices held: None

Replaces: Jeff Klein (D)

Place of birth: Mount Vernon

Current residence: Pelham

James Skoufis
James Skoufis
James Skoufis (D)
District 39 (Hudson Valley)

Top priority: Government oversight, rooting out corruption and holding state government accountable to the people.

How I will govern differently: I bring a different political perspective to the district but share a commitment to deliver resources and leadership to my constituents.

Political hero: My political role models are Bobby Kennedy and Paul Wellstone, two leaders who embodied conviction and spoke truth to power.

If I were an animal: Orca

Birthday: Oct. 18

Previous job/occupation: Assemblyman, project manager for a security firm

Twitter: @JamesSkoufis

Replaces: Bill Larkin (R)

Previous offices held: Assemblyman, Woodbury Town Board member

Place of birth: Flushing, Queens

Current residence: Woodbury

Peter Harckham
Peter Harckham
Peter Harckham (D)
District 40 (Hudson Valley)

Top priority: Protecting the livelihoods of the workers and municipalities impacted by the closure of Indian Point nuclear power plant.

How I will govern differently: By engaging in a full and rigorous debate on many of the issues that were stymied by the previous Republican majority.

Political hero: John F. Kennedy

If I were an animal: One of my dogs, because they have the life.

Birthday: Sept. 16

Previous job/occupation: Cuomo administration official

Twitter: @SenatorHarckham

Previous offices held: Westchester County legislator, Westchester County Board of Legislators’ majority leader

Replaces: Terrence Murphy (R)

Place of birth: Dallas, Texas

Current residence: South Salem

Jen Metzger
Jen Metzger
Jen Metzger (D)
District 42 (Hudson Valley)

Top priority: Enacting long-awaited reforms to make our government more accountable to the people, including elections, campaign finance and ethics reforms. With a more accountable government, we’ll be in a much stronger place to meaningfully address the issues that New Yorkers care about.

How I will govern differently: I truly appreciate Sen. John Bonacic’s long commitment to public service and I wish him and his family all the best. We come from different political perspectives and will have different legislative priorities in Albany. I have made cleaning up our politics a top priority, and also women’s health, energy and environmental issues, and access to affordable health care. He had a strong focus on casinos and gaming as chairman of that committee; I will focus on supporting our family farms and thriving rural economies, as chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee.

Political hero: Rachel Carson

If I were an animal: A crow. They are smart, persistent, community-minded and use tools in creative ways to solve problems.

Birthday: Feb. 3

Previous job/occupation: Director of the nonprofit organization Citizens for Local Power, and Rosendale councilwoman

Twitter: @SenatorMetzger

Previous offices held: Rosendale councilwoman, deputy town supervisor, chair of Rosendale Environmental Commission

Replaces: John Bonacic (R)

Place of birth: New York City

Current residence: Rosendale

Daphne Jordan
Daphne Jordan
Daphne Jordan (R)
District 43 (Capitol Region)

Top priority: Making New York state a more affordable place

How I will govern differently: Most of my adult life was spent in the private sector where I started and ran two successful small businesses. My background as a job creator gives me critical insights into the struggles so many of New York’s small businesses face.

Political hero: President Ronald Reagan

If I were an animal: A service dog, because I could still be a human’s best friend and I believe strongly in serving and helping others!

Birthday: Nov. 28

Previous job/occupation: Halfmoon Town Board member, legislative director to then-state Sen. Kathleen Marchione, owner and operator of two successful small businesses

Twitter: @NYSenatorJordan

Previous offices held: Halfmoon Town Board

Replaces: Kathleen Marchione (R)

Place of birth: Philadelphia

Current residence: Halfmoon

Robert Antonacci
Robert Antonacci
Robert Antonacci (R)
District 50 (Central New York)

Top priority: Economic development

How I will govern differently: I give out my cellphone number to my constituents.

Political hero: Tony Nesci

If I were an animal: Bald eagle, because I fly above it all.

Birthday: Dec. 11

Previous job/occupation: Accountant, attorney and basketball referee

Twitter: @NYSenAntonacci

Previous offices held: Onondaga County comptroller, comptroller in town of Salina

Replaces: John DeFrancisco (R)

Place of birth: Syracuse

Current residence: Syracuse

Rachel May
Rachel May
Rachel May (D)
District 53 (Central New York)

Top priority: Reforming our democracy is my top priority. Both by making it easier to vote and reforming campaign finance laws to make it easier to run for office and harder to buy political influence.

How I will govern differently: By working to fulfill the promises I made in my campaign, including conferencing with the party that nominated me, standing strong for the legislation I championed as a candidate and being a voice for communities that have lacked power in the past. I will also use my experience in environmental sustainability to bring a “systems thinking” approach to government – recognizing that sustainable solutions require a holistic understanding of the issues and a collaborative process of problem-solving.

Political hero: I volunteered in Paul Wellstone’s campaigns for U.S. Senate and greatly admired his down-to-earth, commonsense approach to progressive politics.

If I were an animal: Dolphin. They are social and playful and smart, and like them, I love to swim.

Birthday: Aug. 14

Previous job/occupation: Sustainability education coordinator at Syracuse University

Twitter: @RachelMayNY, @SRachelMay

Previous offices held: None

Replaces: David Valesky (D)

Place of birth: Waltham, Massachusetts

Current residence: Syracuse

Rebecca C. Lewis
is a staff reporter at City & State.
Zach Williams
is a staff reporter at City & State.