POUGHKEEPSIE – On Monday, December 13, the Democratic caucus of the Dutchess County Legislature elected Yvette Valdés Smith (District 16, Fishkill/Beacon) and Barrington Atkins (District 10, City of Poughkeepsie) as Minority Leader and Assistant Leader for 2022-2023. The caucus vote was unanimous.
Incoming Legislator Valdés Smith said, “I am honored to be a part of this caucus and to play a leadership role. Our caucus is comprised of true public servants who will continue to do the work of the people. And, I have the deepest respect for Legislator Atkins. As a Puerto Rican and an African American, we will lead together and ensure that we are voices not only for those of us who have been historically disenfranchised, but for our entire community.”
Legislator Barrington R. Atkins said, “Together we will work for the greater good. I am proud to serve Dutchess County alongside Legislator Valdés Smith and this amazing caucus. This work requires tireless efforts to advance the ideals held true by our party and the communities we represent. While in the minority of the legislature, our voices will not be silenced, and we will not be rolled over in a ‘business as usual’ fashion. We are innovators, we are smart, we are hard-working, we know and understand our strengths as well as our weaknesses, and we will hold everyone accountable for the lawmaking process.”
Valdés Smith is a former public school teacher and “proud union member” who lives in Fishkill with her husband and two children. She holds two Master’s degrees in Education. She has served on the Environmental Management Council, volunteered with her local PTO, and helps run a local environmental education center.
A City of Poughkeepsie native, Atkins holds a Master’s degree in social work,with a focus on youth mental health, from Howard University. His legislative priorities have included better outreach and services to youth and strategies to address gun violence as a public health threat, especially on Poughkeepsie’s Northside. Atkins has sponsored mental health community trainings and events as well as serving on the county’s Police Modernization and Reform Task Force.