State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey represents New York's 36th State Senate District, which covers the Bronx neighborhoods of Norwood, Bedford Park, Williamsbridge, Co-op City, Wakefield and Baychester and the Westchester city of Mount Vernon. He was elected to the State Senate on November 8th 2016. Prior to his election, he served as Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s Community Relations director, after having served as District Leader of the 83rd Assembly District for 6 years. Jamaal is a member of the Williamsbridge Branch of the NAACP, and mentors young men at Butler United Methodist Church, where he remains an active member.
Growing up in the Bronx, Jamaal was a typical kid— he attended P.S 83 in Morris Park and M.S 181 in Co-Op City, played Little League and spent Sundays with his extended family at Butler Memorial United Methodist Church. He excelled at the Bronx High School of Science and went on to the University at Albany. As a college senior, Jamaal began his career in government as an intern for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. He took the lead on legislation that increased safety for consumers by placing nicotine-laced water under the same strong regulations that cigarettes are held under. The bill passed and became law.
As a graduate of the Community and Economic Development clinic of CUNY Law, Jamaal is no stranger to the fight for social and economic justice. He believes that increased access to healthy food, giving people greater and affordable access to quality health care, and revamping education to focus on the whole child as opposed to simply teaching to a test will make a difference in our community.
Jamaal believes that we must revamp the way we look at education- we must focus on the whole child and take a deeper look at the external factors our children face. All of our children need the tools to succeed, and it is our job to give them these tools. We should be providing academic, social, and emotional assistance to students from early childhood through graduation and college enrollment. We need greater funding for music, sports, the arts and humanities to create a well-rounded individual. We must give our children access to greater gifted and talented programs, creating greater opportunity for access to NY's finest high schools. We need to prepare for the 21st century economy. In addition to providing technical skills and job training, we must ensure we are providing soft skills, such as financial literacy and credit counseling, which are vital in creating a society of individuals who will preserve wealth and build a better life for their families. We must address income inequality and we must close the wage gap and create greater opportunity for all members of our communities.
Jamaal believes that a more engaged and informed community is a community that can thrive, that criminal justice reform is sorely needed in this day and age of overcrowded prisons for minor crimes, unjust legal decisions and ongoing injustice. He believes that access to civil legal services should widely be made available because people need help navigating the courts that deal with family issues, landlord-tenant and property matters. We have to ensure our vibrant senior citizen population continues to thrive in our community.
Above all, Jamaal is a dedicated family man who lives with his wife, Giamara, and their two young daughters in Baychester, where he continues to live out the advice of his family- that one can only get out of their community what they put into it.