PoliticsThe Putnam Examiner

Dutchess County Legislator to Run for 39th Senate District Seat

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Yvette Valdés Smith has announced her candidacy for the 39th state Senate District, which includes Putnam Valley and Philipstown.

A two-term Dutchess County legislator recently announced that she will run for the 39th state Senate District, which includes Putnam Valley and Philipstown along with swaths of Orange and Dutchess counties.

Yvette Valdés Smith, a Democrat, plans on challenging Republican Sen. Rob Rolison (R-Poughkeepsie) who was elected to the Senate in November 2022 after serving as mayor of Poughkeepsie.

As of last week, Valdés Smith has raised an impressive $54,000 for her campaign, while Rolison has a little over $12,000 in his war chest.

Valdés Smith was elected to the Dutchess County Legislature in 2021, where she became the minority leader. She was re-elected in November.

Her decision to run for Senate was supported by a wide variety of individuals and groups around the district, Valdés Smith said.

“For me it was a no-brainer to run,” she said. “I received support from neighbors, many community members and elected officials on both sides of the aisle. They called me and said I needed to run and that now is the time.”

Other support for Valdés Smith includes local labor unions such as the Communications Workers of America, the Vote Mama Foundation and elected officials such as Congressman Pat Ryan (D-Gardiner), state Deputy Comptroller Robin Lois and Dutchess County District Attorney Anthony Parisi.

Valdés Smith was born in Syracuse but raised in Puerto Rico until her late teens. Her mother’s extended family lived in Beacon where she would spend her summers. She is a former public school teacher and lives in Fishkill with her husband, Jake Smith, and five- and 10-year-old sons.

Currently, she serves on the executive board of Stony Kill Farm and on the Advisory Committee for the Vote Mama Foundation.

A critical issue for Valdés Smith is housing affordability especially for struggling vets and seniors.

“There is an urgent housing crisis for the middle class and renters need to be protected,” she said. “It’s part of the fight against race-based housing discrimination. We are busting to pay our taxes to live here. I’m running to make sure the future is set for us and our children.”

Although state legislation passed protecting renters from landlords’ fraudulent practices, Valdés Smith said Rolison voted against the bill.

Rolison didn’t respond to requests for comment or about his plans about running for re-election, but his advisor, Lynn Krogh, issued a statement to The Examiner last week.

“Senator Rolison’s top priority is fighting for our district on issues of public safety, lower taxes, and affordability in the budget process,” the statement read. “He’s laser-focused on getting results, not grabbing headlines. There will be plenty of opportunities to campaign on his unmatched record of commonsense independence in the coming months. Right now, Senator Rolison is committed to advocating for an on-time, responsible budget which cleans up the mess Albany helped create.”

Valdés Smith said as a mom and a Latina her voice would be essential at the table in Albany.

When Rolison voted against the state budget she said she was astounded.

“There were so many elements supporting local schools, which we take very seriously. Instead of rolling back funds, we need to increase that support, especially to schools, Valdés Smith said. “We owe our young people the best, strongest education they can possibly obtain.”

Other key issues for her include environmental protection and women’s reproductive health rights.

“I’m dedicated to the future of women and I am concerned that we’ve gone backwards when it comes to women’s rights,” she said. “We have to make sure women’s rights are protected.”

Petitioning to be on the ballot begins on Feb. 27, and the deadline for filing signed petitions with the Board of Elections is early April. Valdés Smith will run on both the Democratic and the Working Family lines.

A formal kickoff for her campaign is this Saturday, Jan. 27 at 4:30 p.m. at the BEAHIVE in Beacon.

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