Nick E. Smith is the Deputy Chief of Staff for New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn). He has also been a political contributor to HuffPost Live.
Previously, Nick served as Director of Legislation and Communications for Williams, along with NYS Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) and as an appointed Commissioner in the City of Berkeley, California (2004-2007). He also coordinated the national, non-partisan collaborative, Education from the Inside/Out Coalition, and founded EraofChange.org, a progressive civic action group, which was active in the 2008 Presidential election.
As Legislative Director in the New York City Council and State Assembly, Nick has co-authored and helped pass a number of laws, including:
New York City laws to:
- End criminal history discrimination in employment by “Banning the Box;”
- Increase regulations for Dollar Vans / Commuter Vans in NYC, bringing them in line w/ other livery services and increasing legality and enforcement;
- Protect tenants against harassment from individuals seeking to buyout rent-regulated tenants. Also called “tenant relocation specialists;”
- Increase compliance with voter registration efforts by city agencies;
- Ensure community notice of large hotel development;
- Increase transparency when buying a used car;
- Protecting both victims of Domestic Violence, Sex Offenses and Stalking, from discrimination in housing and employment;
- Encouraging New Yorkers to bike to work;
- Report data on the Use of Force when related to Quality of Life offenses, emanating after the tragic death of Eric Garner due to a choke-hold;
- Report data on the NYPD issuance of summonses, broken down by offense charged, the race, age and gender of the person to whom a summons was issued, and the borough and precinct in which the summons was issued;
- Improve the city’s energy efficiency;
- Require translation of city’s websites into languages other than English;
- Increase catch basin inspections to reduce flooding;
- Protect Veterans and Active Duty Service Members from discrimination in employment and housing (INTRODUCED/PENDING);
- End the ability of creditors to discriminate in the issuance of credit on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, and other protected classes. It would require creditors to disclose to potential borrowers how their rate is calculated, would require the NYC Commission on Human Rights to conduct outreach, and would require the NYC Commission on Human Rights to perform a credit discrimination investigation for a period of one year.(INTRODUCED/PENDING);
- City of Berkeley, CA laws to:
- Prohibit the city from producing goods and services from employers who operate sweatshop conditions, fail to pay living wages, offer healthcare benefits, etc. Passed as Chair of the City of Berkeley Commission on Labor; full council passed it in 2009. See an initial recommendation from the City Council here.
- New York State laws to:
- Ban the marketing and sale of electronic cigarettes to minors;
- Increase penalties for the fraudulent labeling of food products;
- Increase public protections against the release of exotic animals.
- Additionally, he successfully led negotiations that caused the NYS Dept. of Tax and Finance to end plans to tax Yoga classes at the 4.5% NYC sales tax rate.
Smith was the first African American student elected to lead the Commission on Labor for the City of Berkeley, California (2004-2007), where he co-authored three ordinances, including a ban on sweatshop procurement, which became law in 2009.
Smith also served as Berkeley, CA Mayor Tom Bates’ appointee to the Housing Advisory Commission (2006-2007), where he fought for increased affordable housing. Most significantly, he and his fellow commissioners submitted budget recommendations that allocated $3.4 million dollars in Federal Community Development Block Grants aimed at supporting non-profit organizations engaged in community development.
In 2002, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recognized Smith for launching a social networking portal, NetFriendsOnline.com, at the age of 14.
He earned his B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley (2007) and a law degree from St. John’s University School of Law (2010).
Contact him here.
Select News Coverage
“UC Berkeley graduate Nick Smith … was the first African American student to chair the Commission on Labor.
Smith… agreed that diversity was hugely lacking on commissions. ‘Diversity includes more than being a student,’ he said. ‘I didn’t serve as an African American, but as someone who ensured equal representation to all residents, including students and other underrepresented parties.’
Smith helped co-author the ‘Sweatshop-Free Berkeley’ initiative which was passed in September 2006 and a consumer protection ‘Right-to-Know Ordinance’ which was passed in February 2007.”
A Brief History of Sweatshop-Free, The Daily Californian, June, 2009
Excerpt: “While I can’t vouch for every action taken by city government, I strongly stand by our efforts on this. We have joined Maine, Pennsylvania and the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and countless other governments to end labor exploitation across the world. As we recruit more governments to adopt these policies, our coalition will make sweeping positive impacts on standards of living around the world.”
Farewell to the Local Labor Community, Berkeley Daily Planet, March, 2007
Excerpt: “I prefer to see union organization as employees taking [greater] ownership in their destinies. At the same time, it is important to congratulate companies who engage in positive business practices because there are those that do not.”
Mayor Appoints Student To City Housing Body, The Daily Californian, March, 2006
Excerpt: “Mayor Tom Bates appointed Smith to the commission in February. Each city councilmember, including the mayor, can appoint new members to city commissions.
‘He’s uniquely qualified,’ Bates said.
During his time on the commission, Smith plans to work on the city’s soft story building ordinance, which focuses on buildings that could be unstable during an earthquake.
Smith said he will also focus on issues relating to affordable housing.”