Adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata, Cooney was the first Asian American elected from upstate New York
Indian American Jeremy Cooney, who made history in 2020 as the first Asian American elected to state senate from upstate New York, says he is going to run for a second term.
Democrat Cooney, 40, replaced Joe Robach in the 56th Senate District, which covers parts of Rochester and Brighton.
“Excited to announce my run for reelection to the New York State Senate! I’m proud of the wins we achieved for my hometown and look forward to continuing to deliver for Rochester’s families,” he tweeted Dec 30.
Adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata, India and raised by a single mother in the City of Rochester, Cooney now is the first chair of the Senate’s new Upstate Cities Committee, focused on addressing gun violence across New York.
“For this campaign, it’s not about one issue,” Cooney told Spectrum News. “We owe it to New Yorkers to address the number of issues they are facing especially coming out of this pandemic.”
“You can’t have a conversation about violence or gun violence without talking about economic opportunity, without talking about access to mental health in our schools and on the streets,” he said.
In his first year of office, Cooney said he has helped increase funding for suburban and city school districts, helped deliver $475 million in construction for city schools and advocated to improve housing security.
Cooney’s priorities for Rochester include poverty relief, job creation, downtown development, and increased funding for public schools.
He was included in City & State magazine’s “40 Under 40” list and the “Power of Diversity: Asian 100” powerful leaders list for 2021.
Cooney also introduced the legislation that would give the same rights to gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, according to Marijuana Moment.
“When New York State legalized adult-use recreational marijuana, we made a commitment to addressing the discrimination and injustice caused by the War on Drugs,” Cooney told Marijuana Moment.
“I am proud to introduce legislation to include members of our lesbian, gay and bisexual community for priority licensure in the new adult-use recreational cannabis market,” he said about his efforts on making equity provisions even more inclusive.
Cooney, according to his official bio is the first state senator in decades to graduate from Rochester City School District (RCSD).
During his first year in office, Cooney wrote over 50 legislative bills and served as the first chair of the new Cities II Committee, which focuses on upstate cities and those outside NYC.
Cooney was named co-chair of the Marijuana Task Force for the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus and he was instrumental in passing landmark legislation to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana, the bio says.
The final phase of the Rochester School Modernization Project (RSMP), a bill that Cooney sponsored and strongly advocated for, passed after years of delays in the legislature.
The RSMP will be one of the largest public works projects in Rochester’s history with nearly half a billion dollars going towards updating learning environments for RSCD students.
Cooney began his career working on Capitol Hill for the late US Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and later served in the role of chief of staff for the City of Rochester under Mayor Lovely Warren.
Prior to running for public office, Cooney served as the senior director for community relations with Empire State Development (ESD) under then Governor Andrew Cuomo. At ESD, he helped lead public affairs for large-scale economic development projects.
Cooney is active in Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region. He sits on the Board of Trustees for his alma mater, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, and is a member of the Vestry for Christ Church Rochester (Episcopal).
An Eagle Scout, he serves as a Vice Chair of the Executive Board for the Boy Scouts of America, Seneca Waterways Council.
Cooney earned his BA with honors from Hobart College and his JD from Albany Law School. He is married to Dr. Diane Lu, a urologic surgeon at the University of Rochester Medical Center.