Senator Malcolm A. Smith was unanimously elected by his colleagues today to be the next leader of the Senate's Minority Conference. He will officially assume the post January 1, when the current leader,David A. Paterson, is sworn in as Lt. Governor.
Smith, first elected to the State Senate in 2000, said the coming legislative session will be a pivotal one for the Minority Conference and New York State. "We have an historic opportunity to bring real reform to Albany and real relief to the taxpayers and working families of New York," Smith said.
"Governor-elect Spitzer and Lt. Governor-elect Paterson have received a huge mandate from New Yorkers to carry out their agenda," Smith said. "The voters also showed their support for the Senate's Minority conference and our message of reform by re-electing freshman Senator David Valesky of Syracuse and by helping Andrea Stewart-Cousins defeat a 20-year incumbent."
Smith said the Senate Minority's agenda – which includes reforming State government, fixing the State's inequitable school aid distribution formula and stabilizing our skyrocketing property taxes, "clearly resonated with voters, who are tired of business as usual and want to see real change in Albany."
Smith said he is looking forward to partnering with the new administration. "Eliot Spitzer has the energy and perseverance to tackle New York's problems. He will restore our state to its place of prominence on the national stage, and the Senate Minority will do everything possible to help in that mission."
Smith said he has learned a great deal from Senator Paterson's leadership style and would continue to pursue many of the goals sought by the outgoing Leader. "David Paterson has helped to distinguish the Senate Minority as the conference of reform, and we will continue our fight for new lobbying, redistricting and campaign finance reforms next year," he said.
Governor-elect Spitzer said "Senator Smith will be a valued partner as we set out to change the political culture in Albany. He understands that legislative dysfunction wastes taxpayers' money, and he is anxious to help create a legislature that is more efficient and less expensive."
Lt. Governor-elect Paterson said he was "very confident that Senator Smith will distinguish himself as the Democratic Leader. He is an excellent manager and has always been adept at building coalitions and helping legislators and advocates to find common ground – essential skills for any leader."
Legislatively, Smith has used his business acumen to author legislation that would help small and micro businesses expand and create jobs. "The vast majority of jobs in our State are provided by small businesses," Smith said. "Helping them to grow will provide a huge boost for our economy, particularly in Upstate New York where we intend to focus much of our efforts."
Smith has also sponsored legislation that would create affordable housing programs. "One of the biggest complaints I hear from business executives is a lack of affordable housing for their employees," Smith said. "We have a creative program that would address that problem while keeping costs in check."
Smith is also the author of several measures to toughen penalties for sexually-based crimes against children.
Before being elected to the State Senate, Smith served as a Senior Aide to former Congressman Floyd H. Flake, a Chief Aide to former City Councilman Archie Spigner and as a City Hall Assistant to former Mayor Edward I. Koch.
He was an executive in the New York City Mayor's Office of Economic Development and has served as President of the Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica, in Southeast Queens. He created the Southeast Queens Housing Development Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation designed to purchase, rehabilitate and sell City and HUD owned properties.
Smith earned his Bachelors degree from Fordham University in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics. He furthered his education with a certificate program on negotiations from Harvard Law School, and obtained an MBA with a concentration in Finance and Operations Management from Adelphi University.