Congressman Paul D. Tonko is serving his first term in Congress representing the 21st District of New York. Paul comes to Washington, DC with over two decades of administrative, legislative and policy experience having served in the New York State Assembly from 1983 to 2007, and as President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) from 2007-2008.
Congressman Tonko is a nationally recognized expert on energy issues. An engineer by training, Paul served as chairman of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Energy prior to leaving the Assembly to join NYSERDA. As chairman, Paul fought to protect consumers, fought against utility deregulation and worked to upgrade our aging energy infrastructure. While at NYSERDA, Paul worked to advance an aggressive green agenda for businesses and residents throughout New York State.
Congressman Tonko has been a strong voice for responsible energy policy, job growth in Upstate New York, unionized labor and affordable and accessible healthcare for all. In Congress, he is a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and serves on the subcommittees for Higher Education and Healthy Families and Communities. Building on his work in the New York State Assembly, where he fought for one of the nation's strongest mental health parity laws (known as "Timothy's Law"), Paul has always promoted fair and equitable healthcare policies that strengthen our communities and protect our most vulnerable citizens.
Congressman Tonko is also a member of the Committee on Science and Technology, which merges his energy expertise with his environmental agenda. Serving on subcommittees for Energy and Environment, Research and Science Education and Technology and Innovation, Paul hopes to spur an environment where innovation and cutting-edge research and design spur economic development in the 21st Congressional District of New York.
An advocate for a "green economy" and "green-collar jobs", Congressman Tonko has promoted wind development in Upstate New York and successfully lobbied GE to locate their growing GE Wind operations in Schenectady, NY. In the New York State Assembly, Paul was a lead sponsor of the Power for Jobs program, which provides low cost power to employers throughout New York State and has retained or created 300,000 jobs statewide. In 2006, Paul successfully negotiated for Beech-Nut to keep their plant in Montgomery County, and expand their operation by relocating their corporate headquarters. The new Beech-Nut headquarters will be a green building and retain 356 jobs while creating 135 new positions.
Congressman Tonko also has strong ties to local government, which he sees as a crucial partner in delivering programs and services to constituents. At age 26, Paul was the youngest person in the history of Montgomery County to be elected to the county's Board of Supervisors. He served as chairman of that body until 1981. Prior to his election to the New York State Assembly in 1983, Paul was an engineer in the New York State Department of Transportation and also served on the staff of the Department of Public Service. Paul has been a longtime member of the Public Employees Federation (PEF) and proudly serves as the first PEF member elected to Congress.
Paul graduated from Clarkson University with a degree in mechanical and industrial engineering. He is a lifelong resident of the city of Amsterdam, New York.