2006-12-15 / Community

Smith Rallies Democrats At Weekend Retreat

State Democratic Leader-elect Malcolm A. Smith organized a retreat for members of the Senate Democratic Conference last weekend in Saratoga Springs, New York to discuss the upcoming legislative session and lay the groundwork for taking the majority from the Republicans in 2008.

The three day gathering at the Saratoga Hotel and Convention Center, the first conference retreat in recent memory, reorganized the now 28-member conference under Senator Smith’s leadership and refocused their agenda of reforming Albany’s legislative process.

“If we are going to take the majority and change the way that Albany conducts business, we all need to be on the same page,” Smith said. “We’re not poised to aggressively push our message of reform, revitalization and results.”

During the retreat, conference members focused on economic development strategies and legislative rules and ethics reforms. They also heard presentations from a broad spectrum of advocates and good government groups.

The conference was also briefed by Paul Francis, an adviser and newly-named budget director for Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer and Lieutenant Governor-elect David A. Paterson on the new administration’s upcoming policy priorities.

Smith, who succeeds Paterson as Senate Democratic Leader, vowed that his conference will work closely with the Spitzer-Paterson administration.

“Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson have the energy and perseverance to tackle New York’s problems,” said Smith, who officially assumes his leadership position on January 1. “They will restore our state to its place of prominence on the national stage. The Senate Democrats will do everything possible to help in that mission.”

The weekend strategy session is part of the business-oriented approach that Smith said he will bring to the conference. Smith, a real estate developer before he was elected to the Senate in 2000, has assembled a transition team of professionals and academics to help him with this task.

“This is a team of the best and brightest that will make sure we hire the best and brightest,” Smith said. “We want all the pieces in place for this upcoming legislative session. We have an historic opportunity- with our new governor and lieutenant governor- to right the course of our state government and have it once again working for the working families of New York.”

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