David J. Valesky

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David Valesky
Member of the New York Senate
from the 53rd district
Assumed office
January 1, 2013
Preceded by Tom O'Mara
Member of the New York Senate
from the 49th district
In office
January 1, 2005 – December 31, 2012
Preceded by Nancy Larraine Hoffmann
Succeeded by Hugh Farley
Personal details
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Residence Oneida, New York
Alma mater State University of New York at Potsdam
University of Connecticut
Website Official website

David J. Valesky (b. circa 1966) is a member of the New York State Senate.

He 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.

Valesky holds a B.A. in mathematics from the State University of New York at Potsdam and an M.A. in political science from the University of Connecticut.

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 is married to wife Julie, and they have three children. The Valesky family currently resides in Oneida, where Valesky was born and raised. They are Roman Catholics and attend St. Patrick's Parish Church.[1]



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 which 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.

Again, coattails at the top of the Democrat ticket likely helped, as Spitzer and Hillary Clinton won landslide elections.[citation needed]


Senator 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%.


David Valesky was again re-elected in 2010. David Valesky received 43,935 votes compared to his Republican opponent Andrew Russo's 39,317 votes. A margin of 52.77% to 47.23%


David Valesky was unopposed in the new 53rd District.


David Valesky was unopposed in the 53rd District.

In the Senate[edit]

He 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.

He is the Democratic Co-Chairman of the Special Committee on Rules and Administration. This committee was created to study Senate rules and make recommendations on rules changes.

Vice President Pro Tempore of the Senate[edit]

On January 8, 2009 Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith announced Valesky's appointment as Vice President Pro Tempore of the Senate. One of Smith's top deputies, Valesky will serve as an ex officio member of all Senate committees and as Smith's top advisor on Upstate issues. Smith said the position's ex officio status on all committees will Valesky to address Upstate issues in all committees. In addition he serves as presiding officer of the Senate in Smith's absence, placing him third in line for succession to Governor of New York should Smith and David Paterson both resign, die or become incapacitated. Smith also said Valesky will be included in all budget discussions. [2] Valesky's appointment makes him the highest ranking Upstater in New York State Government and, officially, the third-highest ranked in all of the state (although arguably, Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York State Assembly has more power).[citation needed]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

New York State Senate
Preceded by
Nancy Larraine Hoffmann
New York State Senate, 49th District
Succeeded by
Hugh Farley
Preceded by
Tom O'Mara
New York State Senate, 53rd District
Political offices
Preceded by
Frank Padavan
Vice President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Succeeded by
George Maziarz
Preceded by
Martin Golden
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging
Succeeded by
Eric L. Adams