Albany Agenda

Zellnor Myrie may run for mayor on legislative record

The state senator has focused on criminal justice and election reforms in Albany.

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie has sponsored major bills in Albany, including the Clean Slate Act, that have been signed by the governor.

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie has sponsored major bills in Albany, including the Clean Slate Act, that have been signed by the governor. NYS Senate Media Services

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie may not yet be a household name throughout New York, but in the state Legislature, his work is easily recognizable. After announcing a run for New York City mayor, Myrie’s record in Albany will likely be a key focus of his campaign as he aims to demonstrate his lawmaking prowess to the five boroughs.

First elected to the state Senate in 2018, Myrie represents Central Brooklyn, however, his policies have ramifications extending far beyond the district. He has passed bills ranging from gun safety to election reforms but his crowning achievement thus far has been the passage of the Clean Slate Act last year.

The legislation, signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, seals certain criminal records of formerly incarcerated people after a certain period of time, provided they maintain a clean record and leave parole. Myrie’s bill was a win for criminal justice reform advocates, but also for small-business owners who have long complained of worker shortages.

Progressive lawmakers had been pushing for the bill for years before it passed.

“The bill is the morally right thing to do,” Myrie told City & State in 2021. “If we are truly a society about rehabilitation and redemption, this is the right thing to do.”

Beyond that, Myrie has pushed for other criminal justice reforms like ending mandatory minimum sentencing and qualified immunity for police officers, also advancing legislation that would make it easier for formerly incarcerated people to find jobs and a bill that would broaden access to compensation for crime victims.

Myrie has sponsored several bills on gun violence, recently introducing legislation that would prohibit the sale of pistols that could easily be converted to automatic firearms. He also sponsored legislation that would define the term “mass shooting” and let victims of gun crimes sue gun manufacturers.

Myrie is the chair of the state Senate Elections Committee and he has sponsored important legislation on the topic. His first bill to pass in the state Legislature was a bill to expand early statewide voting. He also championed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, which created a statewide election information database and expanded language access at the polls. In 2019, he released a key report on problems with election administration in New York, and he has shepherded reforms through the Legislature. He also proposed tweaks to the new public campaign finance system that was picked up by state Sen. James Skoufis this year.

Should his days in the state Legislature be numbered, Myrie can count a few wins from this session alone, playing a role in the push to keep SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn open, and his Prescription Drug Supply Chain Transparency Act also passed earlier this year.

His campaign for mayor is just hours old, but based on five years of legislation, he may fall back on his record to run on against Mayor Eric Adams. 

“What people want to see are results,” Myrie told The New York Times in the story announcing his run. “They want to see their government working relentlessly to make this city affordable, to make this city safe, to make it livable.”