FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Greenport, July 21, 2018 – Southold Town resident Rona Smith, widely recognized as a successful businesswoman, dedicated educator, and a champion for affordable housing, has been named by the Suffolk County Democratic Committee as its nominee to run for New York State Assembly (District 2) on the Democratic line in the upcoming November election.
In her 20 years as a Southold resident, Rona Smith has made her mark on the community by leading advisory committees and thus influencing policy. Currently, she serves as Chair of Southold’s Housing Advisory Commission, sits on the town’s Economic Development Committee, and is Vice-Chair of the Southold Local Development Corporation. All three of these groups have taken direct steps to improve the lives of area residents under Rona’s determined leadership.
“I am thrilled Rona is among the qualified, brave and accomplished women nationwide deciding to step up for their communities and run for office. Rona is a civic leader on the east end,” said Kathryn Casey Quigley, Chairwoman of the Southold Town Democratic Committee. “She is a dedicated and passionate candidate who will fight hard in the Assembly to get things done for residents in this district. Southold Democrats proudly support her.”
“I am honored to have been nominated to run for New York State Assembly,” Rona said. “I know that, as a member of the Assembly, I can help clear the obstacles that so many Long Islanders face today.”
The three top issues on her priority list are housing, education, and healthcare. If elected, she will bring her unique skill set to Albany and work diligently to improve the lives of residents not only here in AD2 but throughout the state.
Rona began her career as a JHS English teacher in South Jamaica, Queens. Her successful teaching career led her to receive a federal grant to obtain her MA at NYU. A PhD fellowship followed, along with the birth of her son, and three years later, her daughter, but the State budget crunch of the late 1970s, led Rona down another career path. Her longtime interest in real estate led to a job as a broker and ultimately involvement in investment real estate rehab and renewal.
Rona was the longtime head of an investment development group specializing in multi-family housing. She has taken that extensive experience and knowledge and shared it with her community in pursuit of much needed workforce housing on the North Fork. She has been involved in workforce housing exclusively since 2000.
“The need for affordable housing is dire, sending our well-educated kids to live elsewhere, forcing businesses to scrounge for workers, and often causing young people to postpone establishing their own households,” Rona explains. “A fifty unit complex is about to be built in Southold, thanks to our efforts to proactively pursue affordable housing developers, encouraging them to build in Southold. This was accomplished by working across party lines, something I plan to do when I reach Albany.”
She also noted, “Watching the Affordable Care Act coverage being ripped to shreds is a source of worry for many. Hard-working people should not be afraid to get sick. I will work here in New York State to re-establish the diminishing safety net. With the opioid epidemic on the rise and mental health care limited or non-existent, these serious crises are on my urgent Assembly agenda.”
Rona has had personal experience with what it means not to have health care coverage. In 2012, Rona’s son, David, died. He did not have health insurance because of the high cost and postponed seeing doctors. When he finally did, he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. If not for the Affordable Care Act and its pre-existing-condition provision for cancer, he would not have received the aggressive treatment that was his only hope.
Rona’s education has given her the tools to solve the difficult challenges we face in these trying times. She earned her college degree at Queens College, CUNY. If Queens College had not been free at the time, she probably couldn’t have attended. She went on to earn an MA and a PhD from New York University, both of these were accomplished with federal fellowships that were, at the time, a big source of educational funding. Later, she earned an MBA from Columbia University. Rona lives in Greenport with her dog Pluto. Her daughter, Letty, a physician, also lives on Long Island.