This is your district if you live in

Madison County ✮ Part of Oneida County ✮ Part of Onondaga County ✮

It includes the towns of Cicero, Fabius, LaFayette, Pompey, Salina, Tully and parts of the City of Syracuse in Onondaga County.

The towns of Augusta and Kirkland in Oneida County are also included in the 53rd State Senate District.

Voter Snapshot
Voter Registration as of February 1, 2020
Meet the Candidates
Rachel May (D)
Image of Rachel May


Age: 63

Family Life: Married to her husband, who works at Le Moyne College. The couple has one daughter, who graduated from Cornell University this year.

Previously served on Syracuse Board of Zoning Appeals, and on the Mayor’s transition team for sustainability in 2009. Also served on the boards of FOCUS Greater Syracuse and the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency. Volunteered with CommuniTree Stewards, the Onondaga Lake Watershed Partnership, Nottingham High School’s PTO, Ed Smith K-8 After-School Academy, and the Westcott Street Cultural Fair. A member of the Armory Square Playwrights.


Why Vote For May?

In 2018, I ran to end the gridlock in Albany, and I have been true to my promises to overhaul the state’s election laws, pass strong protections for women’s reproductive rights, enact major climate legislation, and much more.

As a first-term legislator, I was successful in delivering for CNY, including major funding for the regional STEAM School, funding for Madison County’s share of casino revenues, and special allocations for all our public libraries.

I have developed a reputation in the district for accessibility and for listening carefully to my constituents, and a reputation in Albany for always insisting that the concerns of CNY be taken seriously.

My office has helped more than a thousand constituents obtain unemployment benefits, and I passed a law that has enabled the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency to make grants and loans to over 50 small businesses and nonprofits seeking to stay open in the pandemic.

I look forward to continuing to work on legislation and budgetary allocations to secure more robust and sustainable school funding, ensure quality home care for seniors, expand high-speed internet throughout the district, and enact a more fair tax system.

Sam Rodgers (R)


Age: 29

Family Life: Married, to wife Jenna. The couple met while attending SU.

A former Captain of the SU Football team currently working as an assistant district attorney in Madison County. This is Rodgers' first run for elective office. Community activities include: serving with the Building Men Program in two volunteer roles: a Syracuse City middle school and high school mentor for students and on the Building Men Breakfast Committee. Has previously founded a fundraising initiative with Syracuse football teammates that has raised near $75,000 for brain cancer research since 2013, and has served on two mission trips to Haiti.


Why Vote For Rodgers?

I will defend the people of central New York in Albany. When I go to court as an ADA, I have the honor of telling the judge that I am there to represent the People of the State of New York. That is a duty I will never abandon as state senator. Our Government needs a fresh perspective. New York is losing population at an alarming rate and I am running to reverse this trend. I will strive to make New York less burdensome and more job-friendly and I will encourage others to choose to make CNY their home. We need a leader, not a politician. As a former Syracuse Football captain, I learned to work in high-pressure environments and bring together people of various backgrounds to achieve a common goal.

Russell Penner (LBT)


Age: 47

Family Life: 27 years married to Lisa Penner, Father of David, Caleb, Timothy, Sarah, and Rebekah

Is a math professor at Mohawk Valley Community College. First time seeking elective office.

Why Vote For Penner?

I am for individual freedom for all, minimal government and opening the democratic process and ballot to alternative candidates and ideas.

State Senator Rachel May (D) was elected in 2018 after defeating incumbent David Valesky (D) in a Democratic primary. Valesky held the seat for 14 years. He had angered many in the Democratic Party by being part of the Independent Democratic Caucus, which frequently joined the GOP on the Senate floor. Valesky remained on the November ballot with a third party line but did not actively campaign.

Rachel May won the 2018 election with 51.2% of the vote.
Republican challenger Janet Berl Berman lost the 2018 election with 36.9% of the vote.
Dave Valesky got 11.7% of the vote in 2018 running for the Independent party.