David J. Valesky
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|Member of the New York Senate
from the 53rd district
January 1, 2013
|Preceded by||Tom O'Mara|
|Member of the New York Senate
from the 49th district
January 1, 2005 – December 31, 2012
|Preceded by||Nancy Larraine Hoffmann|
|Succeeded by||Hugh Farley|
|Residence||Oneida, New York|
|Alma mater||State University of New York at Potsdam
University of Connecticut
Valesky is a Democrat representing the 53rd Senate District. He previously represented the mostly rural 49th Senate District, which encompassed the city of Rome in Oneida County, all of Madison County, eastern and southern Onondaga County, including the eastern half of the city of Syracuse, and parts of Cayuga County in upstate New York. He was first elected to the office in 2004.
He served as aide to former New York State Assembly Majority Leader Michael Bragman from 1989 to 1995. From 1995 to 2004, he served as vice president of communications at Syracuse's public television and radio station WCNY-TV/WCNY-FM and hosted the local public affairs program, Hour CNY. He resigned from WCNY to pursue the 49th District seat.
Valesky took office as a state senator in January 2005. He is a former Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a former Ranking Minority Member of the Environmental Conservation Committee.
In 2011, Valesky joined with Jeffrey D. Klein, Diane Savino, and David Carlucci to form the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). Since then, Marisol Alcantara, Tony Avella, Jesse Hamilton, and Jose Peralta also joined the IDC. On April 16, 2018, the IDC was dissolved and Valesky returned to the Senate Democratic Conference.
Valesky is the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and he is a member of the Finance; Racing, Gaming, and Wagering; Rules; and Transportation Committees. He is also a member of the Rural Resources Commission and the Senate Select Committee on Libraries.
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Valesky defeated longtime incumbent Nancy Larraine Hoffmann (R-Fabius) in a hotly contested, closely watched race. It was one of a handful of bellwether contests (since few State Senate districts typically have competitive races due to gerrymandering or entrenched incumbents) in a year when the Brennan Center for Justice of New York University had released a highly publicized report labeling New York's government as "dysfunctional."
A divisive Republican primary between Hoffmann and her more conservative challenger, Thomas V. Dadey, Jr., weakened her base of support, resulting in a three-way race after Dadey received the Conservative Party and Independence Party ballot lines. This helped to attract donor interest in Valesky. Hoffmann won the Republican primary with 9,768 votes to Dadey's 7,982 votes, a margin of 55.03% to 44.97%.
Valesky received an endorsement from Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and ran using ideas from Suozzi's "Fix Albany" campaign. In 2006, however, Valesky actually endorsed Eliot Spitzer over Suozzi in the Democratic Party primary for governor.
Hoffmann was seen as out of touch both with the conservative wing of her local party and also with voter anger at the Legislature—a sentiment that Valesky's campaign skillfully capitalized on with a series of amusing TV ads, while he ran on a platform stressing legislative reform.
Rural areas of the 49th District went heavily for Hoffmann, while Valesky (running on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines) received strong support mainly from urban Syracuse and its surrounding suburbs. He likely benefited from John Kerry and Charles Schumer topping the Democrat ticket; both won Syracuse by comfortable margins. Valesky achieved a 1,060-vote majority on election night, but this lead narrowed to 742 votes as paper and absentee ballots were counted. However, he did not lose the lead, and Hoffmann conceded two weeks later. Valesky received 53,050 votes (50,279 Democratic Party and 2,771 Working Families Party), Hoffmann received 52,308 votes (Republican Party), and Dadey received 13,234 votes (7,820 Independence Party and 5,414 Conservative Party), a margin of 44.73% to 44.11% to 11.16%.
Valesky was re-elected to the state Senate in November 2006, defeating Assemblyman Jeffrey Brown, the Republican candidate. Although Brown received significantly more funding, outspending Valesky nearly 2 to 1, and also was the son of a long-time Assemblyman in the Syracuse suburbs, Valesky prevailed with 53,555 votes (50,075 Democratic Party and 3,480 Working Families Party) over Brown's 36,875 votes (30,502 Republican Party, 3,717 Conservative Party, and 2,656 Independence Party), a margin of 59.22% to 40.78%. Democrats also picked up Brown's Assembly seat.
Valesky tied Brown to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, widely criticized in the media for promoting "business as usual politics." Bruno had made the seat a target of GOP efforts to maintain control of the State Senate (they still held onto the chamber despite Valesky's reelection). Valesky also cited the endorsement of Eliot Spitzer (who appeared in commercials for Valesky) and teachers' unions; Brown had argued that Valesky's votes favored giving New York City an excessive percentage of the state's expenditure on education.
Valesky was re-elected to a third term with 72,337 votes (67,536 Democratic Party and 4,801 Working Families Party) over James G. DiStefano with 39,819 votes (33,117 Republican Party, 3,889 Conservative Party, and 2,813 Independence Party), a margin of 64.50% to 35.50%.
In 2012, Valesky was unopposed in the new 53rd District.
In 2014, Valesky was unopposed in the 53rd District.
In 2016, Valesky was unopposed in the 53rd District.
- Confessore, Thomas Kaplan and Nicholas. "4 Democrats in State Senate Break With Leaders". Retrieved 8 February 2018.
- Wang, Vivian (April 16, 2018). "As Session Resumes, a Democratic Truce in Albany Seems Uneasy". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- Spector, Joseph (April 16, 2018). "After seven years, it's all over for the Senate Independent Democratic Conference". LoHud.com. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
- "New York State Senator David Valesky". www.davevalesky.com. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
- New York State Senate: David J. Valesky
- David J. Valesky's Official Webpage
- Legislation sponsored by Senator Valesky
|New York State Senate|
Nancy Larraine Hoffmann
|New York State Senate, 49th District
|New York State Senate, 53rd District
|Vice President Pro Tempore of the Senate
|Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging
Eric L. Adams