James S. Alesi
|Member of the New York Senate|
from the 55th, later the 58th district
|Preceded by||Mary Ellen Jones|
|Succeeded by||Patrick Gallivan|
|Born||1948 (age 70–71)|
James S. "Jim" Alesi (born 1948) is a retired politician who served as New York State Senator, representing parts of Monroe County from 1997 to 2012. A Republican, Alesi previously served in the Monroe County Legislature and in the New York State Assembly. Following his 2012 retirement from the Senate, Alesi has served on the state's Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board and on the Public Service Commission.
Alesi is notable as one of four Republican Members of the New York State Senate that voted in favor of the Marriage Equality Act in 2011.
Before entering office, Alesi ran a firm that operated washers and dryers in apartment complexes and colleges.
Alesi began his political career as the Republican Deputy Town Leader for Perinton, New York. In 1977 he made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the Monroe County Legislature against Louise Slaughter. He won on his second attempt twelve years later (Ms. Slaughter had left to take a seat in the New York State Assembly and later a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.) In 1992, Alesi was elected to the New York State Assembly, where his colleagues named him President of his class of freshman legislators. He was elected to the New York State Senate in a special election in 1996, and was re-elected every two years until his retirement in 2012.
In January 2008, Alesi illegally entered an unfinished Perinton home, claiming he believed the house was for sale, and broke his leg while climbing a ladder. The front door was locked, but Alesi managed to gain entry through an unlocked back door. He did not have permission from either the builder or the homeowners to enter the house. The owners and builder declined to press charges for trespassing. On January 18, 2011, the same day the statute of limitations for any potential trespassing charges expired, Alesi filed a lawsuit against the owners and the builder alleging an unsafe environment at the home site. After criticism from members of the public and other Republicans, Alesi withdrew the lawsuit.
Position on same-sex marriage
In 2009, Alesi voted 'no' on same-sex marriage legislation despite being considered the Republican most likely to support the legislation. He is seen on video from the New York Senate floor casting his no vote with his head in his hands, and later admitted that he struggled with his decision to vote against the legislation.
In 2011, Alesi became the first Republican to announce his support for a new same-sex marriage bill. On June 24, 2011, Alesi was one of four Republicans to vote in favor of the Marriage Equality Act, stating: "I swore with my hand on the Bible to uphold the Constitution ... I didn't swear with my hand on the Constitution to uphold the Bible".
On May 9, 2012, Alesi announced that he would not run for re-election to the State Senate. Alesi stated that many factors, including the welfare of the Republican Party, led to his decision. Sen. Alesi indicated that Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos had been supportive of his re-election. Prior to Sen. Alesi's announcement, Republican Assemblyman Sean Hanna had expressed interest in running a primary challenge against Sen. Alesi. On the same day that Sen. Alesi announced his decision not to run for re-election, the Daily News reported the following:
Sen. James Alesi (R-Rochester) told the Daily News Wednesday night that he believes his vote in favor of the landmark gay marriage legislation would have severely hampered his chances in a GOP primary this year. He said the vote — which passed 33-29 due to the GOP defectors — cost him the support of the leadership of the local Republican and Conservative parties. They are now backing his primary opponent ... Believing that his political brand was weakened by the gay marriage vote, Alesi said he decided to step aside out of fear that a bruising primary would eventually cost the GOP his seat — and with it potentially the party's razor-thin Senate majority. His political future was also clouded, however, when he sued a couple after he broke his leg while breaking into their home, which was under construction. He wound up dropping the suit, but the political exposure from an incident in which he was trespassing was anything but favorable.
On June 19, 2017, the New York Daily News reported that Gov. Cuomo was "set to nominate to the state Public Service Commission that oversees New York's utilities a former state Republican senator who helped him pass gay marriage into law into 2011." The Daily News identified Alesi as the potential nominee. Alesi was confirmed by the Senate shortly thereafter. The Public Service Commission post paid $109,800 per year.
- "GOP's Alesi Wins Hard-Fought Race". The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. November 8, 1989. p. 2A.
- "Democrats Win County Legislature, 1st Time Since '35; Keep City Control". The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. November 9, 1977. p. 1A.
- Evan Dawson (January 21, 2011). "Senator Alesi Sues Couple that Declined to Press Charges Against Him". Rochester, New York: WHAM-TV. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
- "James Alesi Sues Over Broken Leg at Construction Site". The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. January 21, 2011. Archived from the original on January 22, 2013.
- "It took ridicule and shame, but hypocrite state Sen. James Alesi withdrew greedy personal lawsuit". The New York Daily News. January 26, 2011. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
- Liu, Irene Jay (December 2, 2009). "Video: Alesi votes no". Times Union. Archived from the original on September 26, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
- Barbaro, Michael (June 25, 2011). "Behind N.Y. Gay Marriage, an Unlikely Mix of Forces". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 22, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
- Spector, Joseph (June 16, 2011). "James Alesi's gay marriage decision brings relief and risk". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
- Epstein, Reid J. (June 24, 2011). "Cuomo signs New York gay marriage bill". Politico. Archived from the original on December 29, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
- "Senator Alesi Won't Run Again". WHAM-TV. May 9, 2012. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- Alesi: ‘I Am Not Running For Re-Election’
- Kenneth Lovett (May 9, 2012). "State Sen. James Alesi, one of 4 GOPers who voted for gay marriage last year, won't run for reelection - believing that vote weakened him politically". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on November 7, 2013.
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