Press Releases

Young Democrats in Hudson Valley Hold Session to Map Out Strategy for 2011 Elections

(CENTRAL VALLEY, NY) December 11, Chapter Leaders of the Young Democrats from Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties came together to outline a strategy for the next twelve months that will focus entirely on county and municipal elections. Ira Marguiles, the Hudson Valley Regional Vice President of the New York State Young Democrats, led the meeting of approximately 20 young Democrats who represent dozens more throughout the region.

The New York State Young Democrats have made it very clear that the people of New York must be represented by individuals who seek to serve the people for the good of their community, not for their own personal advancement. Today’s meeting was a productive first step towards electing Democrats throughout county and municipal government to ensure that the people of the Hudson Valley are appropriately represented at the most communal level.

The Hudson Valley area Young Democrats identified specific elections in Putnam and Westchester Counties including the Mayoral election in Yonkers and a potential special election to fill the vacancy in the Putnam County Executive’s Office. Republicans that are ensnared in scandal; Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone and Former State Senator and Never Actually County Executive Vincent Leibell, who recently plead guilty to federal corruption charges, currently hold both of these offices.

New York State Young Democrats President Kevin Lawrie said, “Today’s meeting is exactly how our organization is designed to function. Our regional vice presidents are the people on the ground with the ties to the individual communities throughout our state and they will only see greater results as resources and ideas come together for one unified goal. I’d like to thank the leaders in the Hudson Valley for taking this initiative and coming together to make sure that we solidify New York as the base for the Democratic Party.”

“It’s really encouraging that we have such an engaged group of young people working to advance the goals of the Democratic Party in the Hudson Valley,” said Hudson Valley Vice President and Dutchess County resident, Ira Margulies. “The Young Democrats are looking forward to 2011 when we will be aggressively promoting our progressive agenda and working to elect qualified Democrats to the hundreds of local offices in our region.”

World AIDS Day Statement from the NYSYD Women’s Caucus, LGBT Caucus and Caucus of Color

In observance of World AIDS Day, the Women’s Caucus, LGBT Caucus and the Caucus of Color, are joining together to ask all New York State Young Democrats to take a moment to remember the countless individuals and families who have been effected by HIV/AIDS and to be a leader in the struggle to cure and stop the spread of this disease.

Started in 1988 by the World Health Organization, December 1st marks a day each year when the world stops to reflect on the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in our local communities and throughout the world. This year, the World Health Organization is stressing the importance of Universal Access and Human Rights, a theme that the New York State Young Democrats enthusiastically support.

In 2006, a United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS stated that, the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all is an essential element in the global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative said in its 2009 Global Community Health Statement, Stigma, discrimination and human rights violations against people living with HIV and AIDS and other marginalized populations continue to be some of the greatest barriers to effectively addressing the epidemic.

More recently, the global community has made tremendous strides. Thanks to anti-viral drugs individuals with HIV/AIDS are living longer, fuller lives. However, HIV/AIDS is still a serious disease.

Did You Know?

  • Everyday 7,397 people contract HIV. That’s 308 people per hour.
  • In 2007, 2.0 million people died from AIDS.
  • A total of 33 million people now live with HIV/AIDS. Two million of them are under the age of 15.
  • Worldwide, women make up half of all people living with HIV. The number of women living with HIV in the U.S. has tripled in the last two decades; by 2005, 26% of people living with HIV were women.
  • There are approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
  • African Americans accounted for 46% of new HIV infections diagnosed in 2006, although they comprise only 12% of the population.
  • HIV can be spread through blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk.
  • Consistent and correct use of latex condoms is highly effective in preventing sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

In New York:

  • As of December 2008, nearly 40,000 individuals were living with HIV/AIDS in New York City.
  • 15,000 of those NYC residents are under the age of 40.
  • In 2008, over 125,000 people were effected by HIV/AIDS
  • County by county (not including NYC), the highest populations of individuals with HIV/AIDS were Westchester, Suffolk, Nassau, Erie and Albany Counties. All of these counties either have or are very close in proximity to urban centers.

Call to Action: Help the NYS Young Democrats bring awareness today. Change your Facebook Status to:

Today is World AIDS Day. The full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all is an essential element in the global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. 2006 UN Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. Get tested, know your status, help fund HIV/AIDS research, and make a promise to protect the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world.

For more information regarding World AIDS Day and to locate events around the world, check out:

The following places are just a few of the locations where you can get tested:

NYC Department of Health Free Clinics

Planned Parenthood of NYC

Community Health Action of Staten Island


World AIDS Day Related Events:

Light for Rights New York City Event
Washington Square Park, New York, NY
12/01 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Kenneth Cole, Liza Minnelli, and others will help mark New York’s World AIDS Day event in Washington Square Park by turning off the lights on the fabled Washington Square Park Arch before turning them back on. This event is just one place in New York marking Light for Rights; other participating venues include the Brooklyn Bridge; the New York Stock Exchange; Madison Square Garden; Carnegie Hall; Museum of Modern Art; Washington Square Park Arch; the Beacon Theatre; Radio City Music Hall; the Apollo Theater; and 40 Broadway theaters

For more information about the Lights for Rights campaign, check out:

Free HIV Testing
Union Square, New York, NY
12/01 9:00am – 2:00pm

NYC‘s Planned Parenthood Activist Council is partnering with MTV and providing free testing in Union Square. They will also be handing out condoms and palm cards encouraging folks to get tested right then and there. MTV will be shooting video throughout the morning. Interested in volunteering?
Email, for exact details.
GMHC‘s Calendar of Community Events

Other Noteworthy Links:

NYS Division of Human Rights
Find out where you can pick up free condoms from the New York City Department of Health

NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence on the Correlation Between Domestic Violence and a Greater Risk for contracting HIV/AIDS

We hope you’ll join us in taking a moment to get tested, protect the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, and help fund research for a cure. Knowledge is power in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In Solidarity,

Julienne Verdi
Women’s Caucus

Ben Murphy
LGBT Caucus

Joshua Waters
Caucus of Color

Women’s Caucus of the New York State Young Democrats Observes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

New Laws Will Give New Protections to Survivors of Domestic Violence

(NEW YORK)–In observance of October being designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Women’s Caucus of the New York State Young Democrats applauds legislation recently passed in both houses of the legislature and signed by the governor, in support of domestic violence victims and survivors. The NYSYD Women’s Caucus also praises Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer for introducing her domestic violence legislative package that will further expand critical protections that every woman needs and deserves. The Women’s Caucus is looking forward to partnering and working with Assemblywoman Hyer-Spencer to combat the severity of domestic violence.

Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer’s domestic violence package includes Danielle DiMedici and Jessica Tush’s Law, which creates a registry of domestic violence offenders (A.10265-A). The registry will allow victims to know the location of their abusers and inform women if someone they are dating has a history of dangerous behavior.

Other measures in the Assemblywoman’s package provide unemployment insurance for domestic violence victims (A.4903); require that victims be automatically notified when an order of protection has been served (A.10663); require that high schools provide incoming freshman with information on domestic violence and stalking (A.9940); and authorize closed-circuit television testimony for domestic violence witnesses (A.4338).

“The Women’s Caucus has been a great partner in advocating for stronger laws and improved outreach on domestic violence,” Hyer-Spencer said. “To combat this crime, New York State must take the lead in protecting and educating young women.”

“Intimate partner violence is the most prevalent cause of homicides for women 16 years of age and older in New York State. Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer’s legislation would take the next steps to provide essential resources to victims and educate women about this heinous crime,” said Women’s Caucus Chairwoman Julienne Verdi.

Recently enacted by the Governor is also a set of protections for victims of domestic violence which includes a provision to create a separate voter registration file, immune from FOIL requests, to hide the locations and information of violence victims. This package also provides domestic violence survivors with the option to request an unlisted telephone number at no charge or use an altered name for the directory listing.

“The bills that were passed and signed into law are excellent first steps to providing resources for victims of domestic violence,” said Kevin Lawrie, President of the New York State Young Democrats. “NYSYD‘s Women’s Caucus approached Assemblywoman Hyer-Spencer and identified her legislation as a priority for our organization so that women all over New York can achieve the quality of life that everyone is entitled to. Along with Julienne and the Women’s Caucus and Assemblywoman Hyer-Spencer, the members of NYSYD will always be committed to ensuring the health and well being of so many people in the young adult community.”

NYSYD Praises the Signing of DASA

Law should be used as a model until full implementation in 2012

In the spirit of the start of the new school year, the New York State Young Democrats applaud the signing of the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), into law yesterday by Governor Paterson. DASA aims to eliminate harassment and discrimination based on race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex, demonstrating the Governor’s and Legislature’s commitment to ensuring that all students have a safe environment in which to learn.

NYSYD most specifically salutes the provisions of this new law that will prohibit harassment or discrimination against students or employees while on school property and codifying the definition of harassment as the creation of a hostile environment by conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that would interfere with academic performance.

A survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) stated that 52% of students who describe themselves as the victims of bullying say they were harassed because they were perceived to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Only 5% of these students actually identified themselves as such.

NYSYD President Kevin Lawrie said, As an organization that seeks to help develop leaders of the future, our mission is not all that different than that of most of our educators. It has always been the goal of NYSYD to ensure that the leadership of the next generation is perfectly equipped to serve the people of our Country and State. The signing of DASA is a monumental occasion moving towards true equal rights for members of the LGBT community and will also allow students and teachers alike to focus on the tasks at hand inside the classroom. On behalf of all of the members of the New York State Young Democrats, I commend the Governor and Legislature on taking this unique and inclusive approach to improving the quality of education for our students and raising the quality of life for young members of the LGBT community.

Even though this law does not take effect until 2012, NYSYD would like to see that this law be used as a model for school teachers and administrators all over New York for how to address one of our education systems most prominent problems until DASA‘s protections are fully effective. Every student must be afforded the same opportunity to learn the required material and our students should not have to wait until the 2012 school year to be fully protected from discrimination.

NYSYD Urges Dr. Pepper Snapple to Negotiate with Members of RWDSU at Mott’s Factory in Rochester

Labor Day, a celebration of America’s blood, sweat and tears, is a day to honor the workforce in our country. The men and women that have bruised their hands and callused their feet to perform the necessary and vital jobs that make our economy run are so often overlooked. On Labor Day, given the current economic climate we must demonstrate our commitment to the tradesmen and women by making sure that all workers are compensated appropriately for the services that they perform. Many of our talented laborers in New York are young adults, some of which are members of RWDSU Local 220. To commemorate Labor Day, the New York State Young Democrats are urging the leaders of Dr. Pepper Snapple to get back to the table and reach a fair and equitable solution that will help stimulate the local Rochester economy and put the workers at the Mott’s factory back to work.

Members of RWDSU Local 220 have been on strike now for over 100 days and have been forced to subsidize their jobs with less-paying, lower-skilled jobs that are often filled by young adults.

Tough economic conditions create additional burdens for companies and workers alike. But, while the Rochester area workers are continuing to fight for good paying jobs and struggling to make ends meet, Dr. Pepper Snapple recorded $555 million in profits and over $1 billion in revenues. Dr. Pepper Snapple, like many other prominent corporations in America, is in a position to lead our country towards economic recovery. We maintain the position of RWDSU that Dr. Pepper Snapple must reciprocate the support that the members of the local community have shown to Motts interests for years.

We understand that the vehicle to recovery needs to be fueled by the private sector and we know that every job counts in every community, this bold action from Dr. Pepper Snapple will quickly spread throughout communities around America. We need to halt this type of corporate action right here, in this upstate community and work together with employers to encourage them to maintain and even expand New York’s talented workforce. If we can help our middle class keep more dollars in their paychecks and pockets, those dollars will quickly multiply as they work their way through the economy at gas stations, restaurants, department stores and even Snapple vending machines.

Starting on Labor Day, NYSYD will be encouraging individuals to forego the Snapple products they are purchasing and instead donate the amount of a Snapple product to a fund to support these workers during this difficult time. Please click here to honor the workers in Local 220 for the work that they have loyally and professionally done in Rochester.

Young Democrats Conduct Straw Poll for AG Primary

Events held in several counties throughout New York

2010 Straw Poll

(NEW YORK) Yesterday evening, Young Democrats in several counties throughout New York conducted straw polls on the primary in the race for Attorney General. Straw polls are generally informal ways to gauge opinion within a group. These straw polls have become an annual tradition for NYS Young Dems, after the Manhattan chapter conducted a successful straw poll on last year’s New York City-wide races.

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice won this year’s Young Democrats straw poll by taking 37% of the votes across the participating chapters. Participants noted that the most important issues to them for the next Attorney General included, LGBT and civil rights, environmental protection, rural expansion, consumer protection and campaign finance and ethics reforms. Rice was noted for her recruiting of LGBT prosecutors and plans to empower the Attorney General’s Office to investigate government corruption. Senator Eric Schneiderman finished in second place with 36%, Sean Coffey in third with 18%, Richard Brodsky in fourth with 6% and Eric Dinallo finished last tallying only 3%.

NYSYD President Kevin Lawrie said, “Although NYSYD does not endorse any candidate in primary elections, we certainly look forward to seeing if our straw poll results will mirror those of the rest of the Democratic Party in just a few days. Conducting straw polls like these gives young voters a hands-on way to familiarize themselves with the issues in all of our communities. This experience was extremely informative and we all look forward to conducting more of these polls in the future.”

Taylor Stirek, the President of the Manhattan Young Democrats, tabulated the results for the entire state. “Manhattan Young Democrats were very excited with the success of our second annual straw poll! We are always so thrilled when the Counties work together to create such a successful event. It will be interesting to see how our polls match up to the primary numbers later in September, we want to stress how important the youth vote is to the political system and we’re honored to be a catalyst for proactive involvement!”

Brooklyn Young Democrats President Amanda Pizzuti said, “The Brooklyn Young Democrats’ Straw Poll had great turn-out for one of NYSYD‘s newest chapters. The majority of the votes cast went to Kathleen Rice with Sean Coffey finishing a close second, the majority of Coffey’s total votes. Members of BYD certainly felt that tonight was reflective of how the two candidates have been focusing on issues important to young voters like LGBT rights and restoring confidence in Albany.”

Queens County President Costa Constantinides said, As the largest and fastest growing demographic in the Democratic Party, an event like this offers young adults an opportunity to give our opinions on the candidates of our party.

Polls were also conducted in Westchester County, home of Assemblyman Brodsky and Mr. Coffey. Chelsea Kadish, the President ofWYD said, With two of the candidates being from Westchester, the members of our chapter felt it was extremely important to join in on the straw poll. It will certainly be interesting to see where our neighbors will stack up in just a few days.

Straw poll events were held in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Westchester (joined by Mr. Brodsky), sampling a large portion of Young Democrats involved with NYSYD. The Manhattan Young Democrats also polled on the primary race in the 33rd State Senate District between Gustavo Rivera and Pedro Espada, resulting in a unanimous defeat of Senator Espada.

Both of these sets of results demonstrate the feelings of a youth community in New York that is passionately in pursuit of pragmatic, practical and progressive elected officials that will establish their commitment to the causes that are important to young adults to properly ensure that future of New York will be will be in good hands.

Erie County Young Democrats Hold Successful First Meeting

Over 30 Young Democratic Enthusiasts in Attendance

BUFFALO, NY Yesterday evening, August 25th, over 30 young Democratic enthusiasts came out to the first ever Erie County Young Democrats meeting. Along with the Chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, Len Lenihan, members of various communities came out to welcome the Erie County Young Democrats and show their support for the Democratic agenda in 2010.

The well-attended meeting fostered discussion of volunteer opportunities with the various local and statewide campaigns that were represented as well as how to effectively organize and allocate resources for important local races that could change the balance of power throughout the entire state. In addition to Lenihan, members of ECYD were joined by Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul and the County’s Comptroller, Mark Poloncarz.

Also addressing the group was Niagara Falls resident and President of the NYS Young Democrats Kevin Lawrie. “The turnout at the first meeting tonight is a great signal for the future of this chapter. Since becoming President of NYSYD in April, it has been my priority to increase the number of chapters in every corner of New York. The creation of the chapter here in Erie County is excellent news and I look forward to working with them in conjunction with both the statewide organization and my hometown chapter in Niagara County.”

ECYD President Melissa Bochenski said, “I am extremely pleased by the amount of loyal young Democrats that came out to be a part of this new group. It is encouraging to see the increasing level of enthusiasm and the number of individuals there are in this area who all share the goal of advocating on behalf of young adults. There are several critical races in Western New York and while a number of individuals are already involved in campaigns, we are looking forward to coming together to make an impact in November”

Check out the “Photos” section on our website for more from the ECYD meeting.

Statement on the Passing of US Senator Robert Byrd from NYSYD President

Early this morning the United States of America lost a giant. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia succumbed to effects of a heat stroke that manifested itself with additional symptoms. Senator Byrd was a model representative for the voters of West Virginia since his election to the House of Representatives in 1952. Since then Byrd’s voice has transcended generations of members in the upper chamber articulating arguments that straddled partisan lines, regardless of popular and political pressures.

Byrd’s recognition for his stances on issues is what helped him lead the Senate as Majority Leader and all of his other leadership roles. Byrd’s leadership allowed the country to experience substantive debate that helped shape our nation for half of a century, even if you disagreed with what he had to say.

Senator Byrd’s relationships developed over his time in the Senate along with many of his stances on issues. Byrd’s open-mindedness, especially regarding his stances on Civil Rights, changed as the views of his constituents and pulse of America changed, ensuring that West Virginia would always have its voice accurately heard in the United States Senate.

Byrd was present for all of the critical votes during the recent health care debate and upon his final affirmative vote exclaimed, Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy! Aye!

Byrd’s abilities to govern from the center of an idealistic spectrum and commitment to bipartisan representation is legendary and should serve as a model for all elected officials at every level of government in our Nation.

NYS Young Dems Applaud Expansion of Disabled Parking Program in NYC

Parking code in NYC now more friendly to disabled individuals

NEW YORK CITY The New York State Young Democrats applaud a court ruling that came down Tuesday, June 22nd, requiring more equitable guidelines for the distribution of handicapped parking passes in New York City. Previously, only individuals who live, work, or attend school in New York City could apply for specific parking permits.

The expansion of the program is the direct result of a settlement. The plaintiff was a disabled resident of New Jersey who required additional access to parking in New York City but was unable to obtain it due to residential restrictions. The plaintiff alleged that the existing law to exclude certain non-residents from NYC Special Vehicle Identification Parking Permit for People with Disabilities program violated provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Kevin Lawrie, President of the NYS Young Democrats stated, “This is a significant improvement to the quality of access to resources for disabled individuals. I commend the plaintiff for standing up to help change an unjust and antiquated policy. At a time when the budget deficits are forcing cuts to services, there must be new and innovative ways for the government to continue to help individuals that often need the most.”

NYSYD Disabilities Issues Caucus Chair Marcia Grippen said, “This is an important step forward for disabled individuals, New York City, the state of New York, and the country as a whole. Handicapped parking is an invaluable resource for many disabled individuals. I applaud the plaintiff for fighting for the equal rights that all disabled deserve, as well as court for realizing that New York City’s previous policy was in violation of the law. The news of this ruling is a reminder that we must continue to fight for equal rights for all disabled and that change is, indeed, possible.”

To find more information on how to obtain one of the permits visit and follow the link to Application Instructions for NYC Parking Permit for People with Disabilities (PPPD).

NYSYD Statement On Hiram Monserrate: RESIGN!

New York State Young Democrats Praise Senate President Malcolm Smith and Conference Leader John Sampson  for the Creation of a Committee to Debate Whether Further Disciplinary Action for Senator Monserrate is Necessary

President Malcolm Smith and Conference Leader John Sampson announced the creation of a special committee to discuss potential additional disciplinary action for Senator Hiram Monserrate resulting from his conviction on misdemeanor assault charges.

The New York State Young Democrats President Matthew Silverstein called for Senator Monserrate to resign stating that, “Senator Monserrate’s actions and his prosecution severely identify questions of his character as an elected official.  I join many others in calling for his resignation so that the State of New York can move on to the important state-wide issues on the agenda.”

Silverstein went on to commend the Senate Democratic leadership for creating the committee, which will be chaired by Senator Eric Schneiderman and consist of a majority of Democrats.  “The actions taken by Senators Smith and Sampson demonstrate our Democratic commitment to strong moral character and that actions, like those of Senator Monserrate, will not be tolerated or ignored.  I entrust that the State Leadership will seriously consider the findings of this committee and urge all of the other New York State Senators to vote in favor of expelling Senator Monserrate.”

The New York State Young Democrats Women’s Caucus echoed Silverstein  by stating that Senator Monserrate should resign or be expelled as an illustration that domestic violence should not be tolerated or ignored.  Co-Chairs Julienne Verdi and Kathleen O’Hagen stated, “Domestic violence is a serious problem in New York State, nationwide and internationally.  Senator Monserrate’s behavior with his female companion cannot and will not be ignored.  We hope that this egregious situation will shine light on this often hidden issue.”


The New York State Young Democrats are the official youth arm of the New York State Democratic Committee. The New York State Young Democrats represent young democrats between the ages of 16-36 in all of New York’s sixty two counties.

If you would like more information on this topic, or to set up an interview with New York State Young Democrats President Matthew Silverstein or New York State Young Democrats Women’s Caucus Co-Chairs Julienne Verdi and Kathleen O’Hagen, please contact New York State Young Democrats Communication Director Jennifer Royer at