At a Glance
- Career History: New York State Assembly (1983-2007), President and CEO of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (2007-2008)
- Birthday: June 18, 1949
- Hometown: Amsterdam, N.Y.
- Alma Mater: Clarkson University, B.S. 1971
- Spouse: Single
- Religion: Catholic
- Committees: House Committee on Education and Labor; House Committee on Science and Technology
- DC Office: 128 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515, 202-225-5076
- State/District Office: Albany 518-465-0700, Schenectady 518-374-4547, Amsterdam 518-843-3400
Path to Power
A lifelong resident of Amsterdam, N.Y., Tonko served as a New York State assemblyman for 24 years before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in New York's 21st District.
Tonko graduated from Clarkson University in 1971 with a degree in mechanical and industrial engineering. At age 26, he became the youngest person in Montgomery County (N.Y.) history to be elected to the county's board of supervisors, a position he held until 1981.
In an effort to create more "green collar" U.S. jobs, Tonko in the summer of 2009 introduced the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009. The act empowers the Energy Department to improve the efficiency and reliability of domestic wind turbines, optimize the designs of turbines to function in a broad range of atmospheric conditions and reduce the cost of construction of wind-energy systems. Tonko's bill passed the House in September 2009 and that fall was awaiting Senate action. Green collar jobs are those in the environmentally-friendly sector.
While a member of the New York State Assembly and the president of NYSERDA, Tonko worked closely with then-New York Gov., Eliot Spitzer.
Tonko joins Reps. McMahon (13th District), Dan Maffei (25th District), and Eric Massa (29th District) as Democratic freshmen from New York in the 111th United States Congress.