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Antoine Thompson

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Antoine Thompson
20081029 Antoine Thompson.jpg
New York State Senator Thompson speaks at a Barack Obama rally at the Erie County Democratic Headquarters (October 29, 2008)
Member of the New York State Senate
from the 60th district
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 2, 2011
Preceded byMarc Coppola
Succeeded byMark Grisanti
Member of the Buffalo Common Council from the Masten District
In office
January 4, 2001 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byByron Brown
Succeeded byDemone Smith
Personal details
Born (1970-03-01) March 1, 1970 (age 48)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Merle Thompson; 2 children
ResidenceBuffalo, New York, U.S.
Alma materState University of New York at Brockport
CommitteesDemocratic Senate Campaign Committee; Senate Environmental Conservation Committee; Finance; Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business; Tourism, Recreation and Sports Development and Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs committees.[1]

Antoine Maurice Thompson (born March 1, 1970) was a Democratic New York State Senator who represented the state's 60th Senate district, which includes parts of Buffalo and Tonawanda, the City of Niagara Falls and the Town of Grand Island. Thompson previously served for six years as the Masten District councilman in the Buffalo Common Council.[2] Thompson has been a lifelong Buffalonian and held political and politically related professional positions in Buffalo before his service in elective politics.

Thompson was appointed to the city council in 2001 and was twice re-elected. He was discouraged from pursuing his interest in election to the United States House of Representatives in 2005. He was encouraged to pursue a New York Senate Seat, but was not nominated by the Democratic Party when the seat first became available in a special election. However, during the 2006 general election for the seat, he was victorious. Thompson was challenged in the 2008 primary by the current holder of the seat but was victorious and was unchallenged in the November election. In 2010 Thompson won a 3-way primary battle but lost to Mark Grisanti, a Democrat who ran as a Republican.[3] After the election Grisanti became a Republican.[4]


Born in Buffalo, New York, Thompson is a 1994 graduate of State University of New York at Brockport where he received a bachelor of science in history.[5] He was raised in Buffalo and was a graduate of public schools #60, #61 and Bennett High School.[2]

He is the son of Richard Allen Thompson and Wanda Strong Thompson, and the father of Deja LaShay and Joseph Antoine Alexander Thompson.[2] In high school, he served as captain of both the cross-country and track & field teams and earned All-Western New York Honors in both.[2] Thompson is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha.[6]

Early career[edit]

Starting in 1996, he served two years as a legislative assistant to the Buffalo Common Council.[7] In early 1998, he was named executive director of the Office of Urban Initiatives, which is a community development corporation that endeavors to improve business opportunities for minorities.[5][8] After then-City Councilman Byron Brown was elected to the New York State Senate in November 2000, Thompson was favored for an appointment as Brown's city council successor.[9]


Thompson was sworn in as the Masten District City Councilman on January 4, 2001 after being appointed by the Democratic Committee.[10] His east side district included 27% of Buffalo's African American population.[11] The Buffalo City Council had a brief African-American majority during Thompson's appointed half term that ended following the subsequent elections in September and November 2001.[12] After African-Americans lost their majority the council voted along racial lines by a 7–6 margin to shrink the common council from thirteen to nine members by eliminating the four at-large positions (three of which were held by African-Americans).[13] The city voters endorsed the proposal by a 35,849–19,036 margin which largely went along racial lines.[14] Thompson retained his council position in the 2001, 2003 and 2005 elections. Thompson served as a John Edwards delegate at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.[15]

As a councilman, Thompson fought against crime and economic malaise in his district.[16][17] He attempted to foster economic development and encourage support of worker training.[18][19] Buffalo's East Side, which included his district, was a hub for employment activity that lured suburban residents.[20] Thompson also engaged in urban planning to restore public parks.[21][22] As a city councilman, he co-sponsored a resolution with David Franczyk against continued military involvement in the Iraq War.[23]

Higher office[edit]

In 2005, Thompson began testing the waters for higher office. He raised campaign funds and consulted party leaders about the possibility of challenging United States House of Representatives then 76-year-old congresswoman Louise Slaughter who was already a 10-term veteran. Slaughter's New York's 28th congressional district was 29 percent African American, and minorities comprised nearly 40 percent of the Democratic primary vote. Charles B. Rangel warned that Slaughter had strong ties to the Congressional Black Caucus as well as strong support from labor, women's and pro-choice groups.[24]

Thompson was encouraged to pursue Brown's New York State Senate seat that was to be filled by special election on February 28, 2006 after Brown ascended to be the Mayor of Buffalo on January 1, 2006 following the 2005 election.[25] The district has a 4–1 ratio of registered Democrats to Republicans.[26] In 2006, the Erie County Democratic Party chairman was Leonard Lenihan, and he noted that Thompson had not been timely in entering the special election process.[27] The Erie and Niagara County Democratic committees bypassed Thompson as their nominee in favor of Marc Coppola despite Brown's backing.[26]

Thompson had issued a threat that without backing for the State Senate seat, he would challenge Slaughter in the September primary election, but Lenihan was unimpressed with the threat and noted that Thompson needed to take a "Dale Carnegie course in terms of how to win friends and influence people".[27][28]

Brown and Lenihan were at odds over various political positions after Lenihan played a major role in Brown's election to the office of Mayor. Brown supported Andrew Cuomo for New York Attorney General, David Paterson for Lieutenant Governor of New York and Thompson for 60th District New York Senator. Lenihan disagreed with each of these choices.[29] Brown claimed a perceived racial slight but Lenihan pointed out that neither Anthony Masiello nor James D. Griffin was granted the right to pick their successor.[30]

Thompson subsequently decided to run for the New York Senate seat in the November general election.[31] Marc Coppola won the special election by a 56–44% margin in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 6:1.[32] Thompson opposed incumbent Senator Marc Coppola as well as his cousin Former State Sen. Al Coppola in the September 2006 Democratic Primary for a full two-year term in the Senate.[33] Thompson defeated both with 53% of the vote.[34] He then defeated Marc Coppola again in the General election where Coppola ran as an Independent.[35]


Thompson speaks on the night of the 2008 United States presidential election at the Erie County Democratic Headquarters.

Thompson assumed office in a Upstate New York district.[36] When Thompson took office in January 2007, he, along with Diane Savino and Jeffrey Klein (both of whom later defected from the Democrats to form the core of the Independent Democratic Conference), assumed the chairmanship of the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee by assuming control of Democratic campaigns development.[2][37] He retained this position through the 2008 general election.[38]

Thompson was the Chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. He was the former Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Cities Committee,[1] which oversaw all legislation impacting the state's 62 incorporated cities and urban policy. This position was held by his two immediate predecessors in the Senate, Byron Brown and Marc Coppola.[2] Thompson served on the Finance; Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business; Tourism, Recreation and Sports Development and Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs committees.[1]

When Thompson assumed office, he continued his fight against economic blight with economic revitalization plans, with special focus on redevelopment of brownfield land,[39][40][41] but he had to combat government inaction and bureaucracy in this effort.[42]

During his first term in office the he pushed for release of $32 million in funding for the Safe Routes to School Initiative, a program aimed at improving traffic safety measures and enforcement while reducing congestion, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. Thompson was re-elected to the NY Senate in 2008 and quickly assumed additional leadership responsibilities as the Senate’s Deputy Majority Whip, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation and Co-Chair of the Senate’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) Taskforce. As the Chair of the Committee on Environmental Conservation, he was responsible for the oversight of the Department of Environmental Conversation, partial capital funding to the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Places, the Environmental Facilities Corporation and number of other state agencies with combined budgets topping $700 million per year. Antoine continues to be highly regarded for getting results on small business, job development, and environment related issues. Antoine also helped secure capital funding that allowed more than ten Buffalo Public Schools to complete stages four and five of reconstruction and helped start a state-wide anti-violence program entitled, S.N.U.G., securing over $300,000 for funding for Buffalo and WNY. During his tenure in office more than $200 million in funding from New York State was allocated to his district for job training and small business initiatives, housing development, and improvements to parks, roads, and cultural facilities. Thompson led efforts to enact the Bigger Better Bottle Bill (encouraged statewide recycling by including bottled water returns for a 5-cent deposit), sponsored the NYS MWBE Mentor/Protégé Law, the Green Jobs-Green New York Law and helped create the Green Expo of WNY.

Thompson had been allied with NY City developer Howard Milstein. In 2010 Thompson arranged for a $400,000 grant from NY State's Economic Development Program for the Manhattan billionaire's Niagara Falls Redevelopment company to demolish properties in NiagaraFalls, NY.[43] Thompson was a vocal spokesman against the May 2007 bill to raise State Senator salaries because the lack of raises for Buffalo city workers made it seem wrong to him.[44] After refusing to comment on the issue for some time,[45] Thompson was one of eight Democratic defectors on Eliot Spitzer's unpopular policy allowing illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses.[36] Thompson was one of eleven New York State Senators to be uncontested in the November 2008 general election.[46] He supported the streamlining of minority- and woman-owned business certification.[47] He opposes fracking[48]

Thompson voted in favor of same-sex marriage legislation on December 2, 2009, but the bill was defeated.[49]

He won the Democratic Party nomination in the September 14, 2010 primary election.[46] After a lengthy recount[50][51][52] Thompson lost the general election to Mark Grisanti.[53] Days before the election Thompson was named in a pay to play scandal where he received $8600 from Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG), who was attempting to secure a lucrative state contract to operate a video slot machine casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York.[54]


In December 2012, Antoine was appointed Executive Director of the Buffalo Employment & Training Center (BETC), the second-largest publicly run employment and training center (one stop center) in New York State, serving youth, adults and dislocated workers. As executive director Antoine managed a staff of over 25 people and assisted with the collaboration of more than 40 organizations, companies and institutions seeking to place youth and adults in employment training and jobs. His bottom-up strategy of leadership and his aggressive approach to client and customer outreach increased the number of companies utilizing BETC and the success of job seekers. During Thompson’s tenure at the BETC, Steps To Achieve, an ex-offender program was initiated, a Youth Advisory Committee and Placement Advisory Committee was created and the number of companies utilizing BETC to recruit job seekers increased more than 400 percent. Antoine encouraged staff development training to improve morale, performance and risk-management. Whether it was how to deal with problem customers, an active shooter in the building, or sending staff to Myers Briggs training, he understood that staff development improves the quality of service delivered to customers and clients. Thompson also implemented the “Employee of the Quarter,” wherein staff nominated a co-worker for doing a great job. A jobs leads committee was created to help improve the distribution of information to elected officials, partner agencies, faith, and communities. His leadership style included utilizing social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to promote the BETC services, job announcements and events. Antoine helped launch the Buffalo Construction Training Program wherein BETC provided a $2,300 grant supported with Workforce Investment Act funds. He instituted Quarterly BETC Career Fairs, regular Breakfast and Job Club events too. Prior to his leadership at the BETC, the agency had not sponsored a career fair in approximately 4 years. In April 2015 Antoine M. Thompson became the Executive Director of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) the largest organization of African-American real estate professionals in the United States. Thompson is committed to growing NAREB’s advocacy and member across the country. Antoine is a staunch champion of fair-housing and community re-investment by local and national financial institutions. Throughout his career, Antoine has received various awards, which include the NYS Solar Industries Association Legislator of the Year, the NYS Environmental Advocates the Legislator of the Year Award, the WNY Climate Action Coalition Leadership Award, Buffalo Audubon Society Government Award For Leadership and Conservation, Citizen Action of New York- Progressive Leadership Award, the Black Chamber of Commerce Business Advocate Award and the Buffalo Branch NAACP – Medgar Evers Civil Rights Award. Antoine is the owner and founder of Next Level 21, a consulting firm that focuses on diversity, inclusion and advocacy work. He is partner in Creative PMO, a project management firm. Antoine is also partner in Black Politics Today, a multi-media firm. He is also a licensed real estate agent with Class A Real Estate. Thompson formerly hosted Western New York on the Move, a weekly radio show broadcast Thursdays at noon on WUFO 1080 AM.[2] ,[55]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "2007–2008 Legislative Session". Archived from the original on January 7, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Biography". Archived from the original on January 7, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  3. ^ Tom Precious (November 30, 2010). "Thompson concedes to Grisanti". The Buffalo News. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  4. ^ "New York State Senator: Mark Grisanti: (R, C, IP) 60th Senate District". Archived from the original on February 15, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Thompson To Head Urban Initiatives". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. April 5, 1998. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  6. ^ "Black frat turns 100 - Alpha Phi Alpha, founded in 1906 by Troy native, celebrates, awards scholarships". The Times Union. Newsbank. November 15, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  7. ^ Collison, Kevin (April 19, 1999). "Panel Urges Reforms In Face of Swelling capital Debt". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  8. ^ "Business People". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. May 9, 1998. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  9. ^ McCarthy, Robert (December 17, 2000). "Fitzpatrick May Bow Out". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  10. ^ Sapong, Emma D. (January 8, 2001). "Thompson Targeting Ills of the Masten District". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  11. ^ Staba, David (July 19, 2004). "On Paper, Buffalo Sees Improvement; on the Streets, Many Disagree". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  12. ^ Lakamp, Patrick (September 26, 2001). "In Council Races a Key Change". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  13. ^ Esmonde, Donn (July 24, 2002). "It's Time For Truce, Not War". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  14. ^ Lakamp, Patrick and James Heaney (November 12, 2002). "Vote To Downsize Council Reflects Racial Divide — The Referendum To Shrink The Common Council Attracted More "Yes Votes In Three Predominately White Council Districts Than All The "No" Votes Citywide". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  15. ^ Teitelbaum, Michael (July 19, 2004). "Democratic Convention: New York Delegation". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  16. ^ Cardinale, Anthony (March 6, 2002). "Block Club Organizing To Fight Crime". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  17. ^ "Targeting Drug Dealers". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. April 9, 2002. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  18. ^ "East Side Story — Signs of Economic Life Stirring In A Troubled Part of the City". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. March 26, 2002. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  19. ^ "Too Good To Lose — Program To Train Minority Workers In Building Trades Ought To Be Saved". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. November 9, 2003. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  20. ^ Cardinale, Anthony (February 26, 2004). "Disparity of Income On East Side Deplored At Forum On Civil Rights". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  21. ^ Theodore, Larissa (July 26, 2001). "Plan To Restore King Park Wading Pool Detailed". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  22. ^ "At Last, Splash — In Martin Luther King Park, Signs of Summer and Community Will". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. June 21, 2004. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  23. ^ "Everybody's Column". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. June 21, 2004. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  24. ^ Lakamp, Patrick (December 17, 2005). "Thompson may confront Slaughter for House seat". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  25. ^ McCarthy, Bob (January 8, 2006). "Antoine Thompson antes up". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  26. ^ a b Staba, David (February 25, 2006). "G.O.P. Sees Rare Opportunity in a State Senate Race". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  27. ^ a b McCarthy, Robert J. (January 10, 2006). "Democrats won't back Thompson for State Senate — Republicans to gauge interest of School Board member Jacobs". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  28. ^ McCarthy, Robert J. (January 13, 2006). "Brown, Lenihan at odds over Albany successor — Thompson, Coppola may vie in primary". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  29. ^ McCarthy, Bob (January 29, 2006). "Smooth sailing, then choppy waters". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  30. ^ Watson, Rod (February 9, 2006). "Will 'sit-out' be the way tosend message?". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  31. ^ Spector, Joseph (February 6, 2006). "GOP may face stiff battles in House". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  32. ^ McCarthy, Bob (March 5, 2006). "Coppola's story parallels cousin's". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  33. ^ Franklin, Gail (September 7, 2006). "State Senate hopefuls air views". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  34. ^ Johnson, Mark (September 13, 2006). "Incumbent lawmakers score primary victories — Senate's slim GOP majority is at stake in November election". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  35. ^ Watson, Stephen T. and Jay Rey (November 8, 2006). "WNY voters return incumbents to State Legislature - In Assembly, Cole tops Monte, Hayes defeats Grelick Thompson wins State Senate seat". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  36. ^ a b Confessore, Nicholas (October 23, 2007). "Why Some Democrats Defected on Spitzer Driver's License Plan". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 6, 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  37. ^ Hakim, Danny (January 8, 2008). "Albany Notebook; Health Funds at Stake, Union Keeps Watch As Budget Takes Shape". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  38. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (October 19, 2008). "For Once, Western New York Is the Front Line of State Politics". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  39. ^ Thompson, Antoine (May 26, 2007). "New initiatives could bolster upstate economy". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  40. ^ Fischer, Nancy A. (December 2, 2007). "Taking a turn for the better — Weed and Seed helps transform Highland Ave. area". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  41. ^ Heaney, James (April 13, 2008). "A meeting of 'green' minds — Summit addresses environmental, economic needs". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  42. ^ Anderson, Judith and Mathy Stanislaus (October 27, 2007). "Governmental inaction blocks use of brownfields law". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  43. ^ Gee, Denise Jewell. "Falls leery of state grant for developer". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on September 8, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
  44. ^ Hakim, Danny (May 7, 2007). "Not Reading the Fine Print". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  45. ^ Precious, Tom (October 4, 2007). "Driver's licenses for illegals a tough sell — Members of his own party oppose Spitzer proposal as 'misguided'". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  46. ^ a b "Election Results: New York". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  47. ^ Christmann, Samantha Maziarz (January 26, 2008). "Lawmakers hoping to level playing field — Thompson tells of bid for 'fast-track' help for minorities, women". The Buffalo News. Newsbank. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  48. ^ "Thompson Offers Responsible Hydro-Fracking Legislation". August 4, 2010. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  49. ^ "Majority Support Evaded State Senate's Gay Marriage Bill". NY1 News. December 2, 2009. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  50. ^ Karen DeWitt (November 10, 2010). "Control of New York Senate Still Unresolved". WNYC. Archived from the original on November 14, 2010. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  51. ^ Hakim, Danny (November 4, 2010). "Hopeful in 3 Tight Races, G.O.P. Is on Cusp of Control of New York Senate". The New York Times. p. P10. Archived from the original on November 4, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  52. ^ Hakim, Danny (November 15, 2010). "Key New York Races Remain Undecided". The New York Times. p. A22. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  53. ^ McCarthy, Robert J. and Tom Precious (December 1, 2010). "At long last, Grisanti is winner with historic flair: Senate seat now his in a stunning upset". The Buffalo News. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  54. ^ Borsa, John (October 22, 2010). "Thompson Holds News Conference on 'Pay to Play' Allegations". WKBW. Archived from the original on October 25, 2010. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  55. ^

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Byron Brown
Buffalo, New York Masten District Councilman
Succeeded by
Demone Smith
Preceded by
Carl Marcellino
Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation
Succeeded by
Mark Grisanti
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Marc Coppola
New York State Senate, 60th District
Succeeded by
Mark Grisanti