James Skoufis

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James Skoufis
Member-elect of the New York State Senate
from the 39th district
Assuming office
January 3, 2019
SucceedingBill Larkin
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 99th district
In office
January 1, 2013 – January 3, 2019
Preceded bySteve Katz
Succeeded byColin Schmitt (Elect)
Personal details
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceWoodbury, Orange County
Alma materGeorge Washington University (BA) & Columbia University (MA)
CommitteesTask Force on People with Disabilities (chair), Agriculture, Insurance, Labor, Local Governments, Transportation and Veterans' Affairs

James Skoufis (born 1987) is an American politician of the Democratic Party currently representing the 99th District of the New York State Assembly; in January 2019 he will be sworn in as the state senator for the 39th district after being elected to replace retiring state senator Bill Larkin. He currently chairs the Assembly's Task Force on People with Disabilities.

He began his political career on the Woodbury town board in Orange County. In 2012 he was elected to the open Assembly seat, becoming its youngest member at 24, and then re-elected in 2014 and 2016.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Skoufis was born in Flushing, Queens, in 1987, the son of a Greek immigrant. His family moved north to the town of Woodbury in the Hudson Valley in 1995. He graduated from Monroe-Woodbury High School in 2005. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree summa cum laude from The George Washington University and a masters from Columbia University.[2]

Before his election, Skoufis was a project manager at an electronic security firm and a member of the Woodbury Town Board. On the Town Board, Skoufis distinguished himself in the wake of Hurricane Irene by leading the local relief effort and helping affected families with food, shelter, and financial assistance.[2]

Skoufis married his wife Hillary at Manhattan's The Pierre in May 2017.[3] He has one sibling, a sister.[4]

New York Assembly[edit]

After redistricting in 2012 following the decennial census, much of the former 96th Assembly District, which had included Woodbury, was made part of the new 99th District, covering the east central Orange County towns of Chester, Cornwall, Goshen, Hamptonburgh, Highlands, New Windsor, Wawayanda, and Woodbury as well as the Rockland County town of Stony Point (within which are the villages of Chester, Goshen, Highland Falls and Washingtonville).[5] Long-time Republican Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, a resident of Blooming Grove, could have run again but decided to retire, leaving the seat vacant.[6]

Skoufis received the Democratic nomination for the seat, defeating Larry Delarose at the party's county convention.[7] In the November general election, he defeated Republican Kyle Roddey, the mayor of Goshen, with 56% of the vote.[8] At age 24, he became the youngest member of the Assembly.[2]

Skoufis introduced his first two bills within a week of being sworn in; both were inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in 2011.[9] The first requires insurance companies to be prompt and responsive to claims in the aftermath of natural disasters. The second bill forms a state task force that looks at how well insurance companies have responded to recent natural disasters, where there needs improvement, and how to achieve that improvement. Both bills passed the Assembly a few months later.[10]

Also in his first session, Assemblyman Skoufis was an outspoken supporter of increasing the minimum wage[11]—which was successfully included in the 2013-2014 budget[12]—as well as tax incentives to attract new businesses to the Hudson Valley.[13] Skoufis also voted to repeal the payroll tax that funds the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in outlying counties it serves, co-sponsored legislation to prohibit tax breaks for businesses that outsource jobs, and supports an elimination of the property tax system in favor of a fairer, broader-based system.

Early in 2014, Skoufis introduced Tuition-Free NY, a proposal to make SUNY and CUNY in New York State tuition-free as long as students fulfill community service and residency requirements. The proposal garnered bipartisan support in the Assembly and won praise from some editorial boards.[14] Skoufis managed to pass Tuition-Free NY in the Assembly's Higher Education Committee in June 2014 - the bill awaits action in the Ways and Means Committee.

In the 2013, 2014, and 2015 sessions, Skoufis passed 6, 12, and 8 bills respectively that he authored and was present for all of the chamber's votes.[15][16] He currently chairs the Assembly's Task Force on People with Disabilities, and sits on the Agriculture, Insurance, Labor, Local Governments, Transportation and Veterans' Affairs committees.[17]

Local issues[edit]

On the Woodbury Town Board and in the State Assembly, he has strongly opposed efforts by the village of Kiryas Joel to annex neighboring communities' land. In 2015, he authored two statewide bills to enhance accountability during the annexation process; while the legislation passed the Assembly and Senate, both bills were vetoed by Governor Cuomo.[18]

Another issue that came up in late 2013 was a proposal by St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital to make their Cornwall campus emergency room part-time, reducing operation hours to 12, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.. Assemblyman Skoufis, as well as local elected officials, have argued that a 24/7 emergency room is critical to the area's safety. Furthermore, he has challenged St. Luke's finances and slammed the hospital executives for actively pursuing bonuses while looking to close the ER. After seven months, Skoufis and St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital leadership announced that the hospital agreed to stop their pursuit of the plan. The hospital resuscitated their plan in 2017, however, and was successful in closing the emergency department over the continued objections of Skoufis and local residents. [19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Election Results", "Photo News," 7 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Biography". New York State Assembly. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  3. ^ "Hillary Stuchin, James Skoufis". The New York Times. May 21, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  4. ^ "Obituary – Donna Ann Colombo". The Woodbury Gazette. June 5, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  5. ^ "District Map". New York State Assembly. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  6. ^ "NY Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun retiring". Daily Freeman. Kingston, New York. May 27, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  7. ^ Sullivan, John (March 23, 2012). "Goshen's Roddey joins list of Calhoun's opponents". Times Herald Record. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  8. ^ "Election 2012 – New York State Legislature". The New York Times. November 7, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  9. ^ "Skoufis introduces first legislation". Mid-Hudson News Network. January 5, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  10. ^ "Assembly Passes Comprehensive Sandy Insurance Reform Package to Protect Homeowners and Businesses in the Event of a Natural Disaster" (Press release). Albany, New York: New York State Assembly. June 4, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  11. ^ Gross, Hank (March 29, 2013). "State budget increases minimum wage". WAMC. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  12. ^ "New York State's Minimum Wage". New York State. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  13. ^ "Skoufis Helps Pass Budget That Delivers for Hard-Working Hudson Valley Families While Cutting Taxes for Businesses" (Press release). New York State Assembly. March 31, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  14. ^ The Journal News, "Editorial: Tuition-Free NY aids students and state"
  15. ^ NYPIRG, "2013 Session Analysis" Archived 2013-07-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ NYPIRG, "2014 Session Analysis" Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Committee Membership". New York State Assembly. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  18. ^ McKenna, Chris, "Bill could increase Orange's role in KJ expansion", "Times Herald Record," 28 May 2015.
  19. ^ "Randall, Michael, "Skoufis: St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital's emergency room to remain open around the clock", "Times Herald Record," 12 March 2014.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Steve Katz
New York Assembly, 99th District
2013–present
Incumbent