New York State Senator, 31st District
Eric T. Schneiderman grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side where he attended Trinity School. After earning a B.A. in English and Asian Studies at Amherst College, Eric served for two years as a Deputy Sheriff in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, where he started the first comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment program at the Berkshire House of Corrections. After graduating with honors from Harvard Law School, Eric clerked for two years in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He later entered private practice and became a partner at the firm of Kirkpatrick and Lockhart.
Eric has worked as an anti-crime advocate for his entire career. He served for over 10 years as counsel to the West Side Crime Prevention Program, representing tenants, neighbors, and community groups in eviction proceedings against crack dens and drug dealers. As a founder of the Attorney General's Anti-Crime Advocates program and a member of the board of the Lawyer's Committee on Violence, Eric recruited, trained, and counseled private attorneys representing community groups striving to protect their neighborhoods from crime.
Eric was elected to the New York State Senate in 1998. He became Chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee after only two months in office, and launched a series of unprecedented challenges to incumbent Republican Senators in the 2000 elections. Eric was so effective that the Senate’s conservative leadership—fearful of losing seats in marginal districts—was forced to abandon its long-standing opposition to many key progressive bills. Eric’s efforts were critical in passing the Clinic Access Bill, Hate Crimes legislation, the Women’s Health and Wellness Act, and a host of gun control, environmental and civil rights laws. In 1999, he led the campaign to block the National Rifle Association's "Eddie Eagle" program from becoming a part of New York's elementary school curriculum.
In 2002, the Senate’s leadership redrew Eric’s district to eliminate most of his base and then undertook an unprecedented campaign to throw Republican support behind his opponent in a Democratic primary. With the help of a broad and diverse coalition of activists and volunteers, Eric stood up to this challenge, and won re-election with over 67% of the vote.
From 2003-2006, Eric served as the Senate Deputy Democratic Leader. During that period, the Democratic Conference became the leading voice for reform of New York's calcified state government, and reduced the Republican majority by more than half, picking up four new Democratic seats. With the election of Eliot Spitzer as Governor, the stage is now set for the fulfillment of Eric's ultimate political goal: a Democratic majority in the Senate, and a progressive, effective government for the people of New York State.
Eric has continued his work as a public interest lawyer throughout his years in office. In 2001 and 2003 he served as lead counsel to the Straphangers Campaign in challenging the unlawful practices of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, obtaining an injunction keeping dozens of token booths open and exposing fraud in the MTA’s bookkeeping. In the Senate, he had been a leader in efforts to pass gun control, pro-choice and environmental legislation, to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws, raise the minimum wage, and to provide universal health care for all New Yorkers. In spite of an unprecedented effort by the Senate’s conservative leaders to silence him, he remains a vocal and visible leader in the battle against the incompetence and gridlock that sustain Albany’s status quo.
Eric lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with his thirteen-year old daughter Catherine.