In her four years at a NY State Senator from Central New York, Rachel May has established a reputation as a thoughtful, hard-working, and courageous public servant and a champion for justice, accountability, democracy, quality of life, and environmental protection.
With her election in 2018, Rachel was instrumental in giving Democrats their first working majority in many decades, which enabled them to pass significant legislation to enhance voting rights, increase funding for public schools, protect abortion rights and LGBTQ rights, and stand up for unions and working New Yorkers everywhere. In her role as Chair of the Committee on Aging, she has worked to improve the long-term care system, raise wages for home care workers, address elder abuse, and advocate for nursing home residents and their families. As Chair of the Commission on Rural Resources, she helped secure a major expansion of rural broadband access and more resources for substance abuse treatment and prevention.
Rachel came to the Senate from a career in sustainability education and with a Master’s in environmental science from SUNY-ESF, and she has been instrumental in many of the environmental successes in the state in recent years, notably the nation-leading climate law passed in 2019. She was honored by Environmental Advocates as Environmental Legislator of the Year in 2020, for her work on banning the importation of fracking waste, and was named to the US EPA Local Government Advisory Council in 2021. Her first bill signed into law in 2019 protected the Finger Lakes watershed from new incinerator construction, and in 2022 she led the way on fighting for a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining, because of its combined impacts on carbon emissions and on water quality. She has introduced legislation to protect public waters from PFAS discharges and from privatization.
A former Board member of her county waste management agency, Rachel also is a champion for waste reduction. She is the prime sponsor of a major expansion of the Bottle Bill and of important legislation to make producers, not taxpayers, responsible for managing packaging waste. A key priority for Rachel and her Senate office has been making government accessible and responsive. Since her first year in office, she has insisted on holding hearings and roundtables outside of Albany. This has allowed people across the state to make their voices heard on issues like climate action, housing affordability, and the health care system. Rachel has hosted a large number of her downstate colleagues so that they could learn about the concerns of farms, villages, rural schools and small cities. And she is deeply proud of her hardworking staff, who have helped thousands of constituents with anything from receiving unemployment benefits to applying for grants or overcoming barriers to achieving their dreams.
In 2001, she chose to settle in Central New York for its strong sense of community, its openness to people from all over the world, its natural beauty, and the feeling that she could be involved in making a difference here. It was a great decision. Her daughter loved growing up in Syracuse, graduated from Nottingham High School in 2016, and now attends Cornell University.
She has served on the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Democratic Committee, the Board of FOCUS Greater Syracuse and the Mayor’s transition team for sustainability. As a Board member of OCRRA for many years, she helped get a state-of-the-art compost facility built in Onondaga County. She has also had the opportunity to be involved with numerous grassroots groups working on education, the arts, and the environment.