Jeremy Cooney ’04 wants to usher in a new generation of leadership to New York. The former staff aide to the late U.S. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter L.H.D. ’15 and former chief of staff to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is running as a Democrat to represent New York’s 56th Senate district, which includes parts of Rochester and surrounding towns.
In October, Cooney visited Visiting Instructor of Political Science J. Ricky Price’s “Campaigns and Elections” course, offering an insider’s perspective on the 2018 races.
Cooney says it’s important that the voices of younger New Yorkers are heard, “to have a say in the education of their children, to bring new jobs back upstate, to make decisions about the climate and environment.” The campaign is “about doing things differently, building relationships that are meaningfully bipartisan, getting things done, taking chances.”
Reproductive justice, gun safety and healthcare sit at the top of Cooney’s platform, inspired by both the challenges facing the 56th district and his experience as a lifetime resident of Rochester – between what he has heard directly from voters when he is knocking on doors while canvassing and navigating the health system while his mother Anne W. Cooney ’63, P’04 battled dementia and brain cancer.
“The entire campaign is born out of gratitude,” says Cooney. “To my mother, to the Rochester community, I want to show my gratitude to the Rochester community and the people who gave me the opportunity to succeed.”
Cooney’s campaign slogan — “Onward” — refers to the new policy proposals he has compiled as well as the opportunity for young leaders to set a new tone and agenda in government. On the state level, he says, voters “don’t feel heard,” so the top priority is “to shut up and listen, and then follow up and do.”
If elected, Cooney will be the first Asian American to serve in the Senate and the first Indian American to serve in the state legislature — and the only HWS alum currently in the legislature.
“Born in an orphanage in Calcutta, coming to this great country because of my mother Anne and her faith and love, I was raised here in Upstate New York, graduated from Hobart, went on to law school and came back home. This is part of the fabric of who I am and why I have a special voice to contribute,” he says.
Throughout the race, Cooney has been “humbled at the support I’ve received from classmates and the HWS community.” That support includes donations from fraternity brothers and classmates, parties hosted by Joshua Leach ’01 and Dr. Lisa DeLucia Bruno ’04, a fundraiser thrown by Andrew Celli ’87, volunteer staff support from Michael Mills ’96, David Grome ’07 and Matthew Skinner ’17 — “all of us former Hobart student government presidents and Druids,” Cooney notes — and mentorship from President Emeritus Mark D. Gearan P’21, L.H.D. ’17.
Cooney is one of a dozen Hobart and William Smith graduates in his family, one of the largest legacy families at the Colleges, including his great-uncle Dr. Robert E. Doran ’22, Sc.D.’72, P’60 who chaired the HWS Board of Trustees and served as head of surgery at Geneva General Hospital. After graduating from Hobart with honors in public policy, Cooney worked for Alumni House and served as manager of campaign leadership of Campaign for the Colleges. He earned his law degree cum laude from the Albany Law School, where he was selected to serve on the editorial board for the Albany Law Review as its executive editor for symposia. He returned to western New York in 2010 and practiced in a wide range of civil litigation matters including medical malpractice, commercial litigation, product liability and general defense litigation with Ward Greenberg Heller and Reidy. He served as vice president of development for the YMCA of Greater Rochester before joining the mayor’s office.