Gustavo Rivera was elected to serve as State Senator for the constituents of the 33rd Senate District in November of 2010. Gustavo campaigned on the promise that he would work hard to represent the interests of his Bronx neighbors in Albany and restore the public’s trust in their elected officials.
His first week in office, Gustavo introduced legislation to increase government transparency and make it mandatory for public officials to disclose all sources of income they receive apart from their government salary. It was important to Gustavo that New Yorkers know exactly who is paying their public officials. Passing this legislation as part of Governor Cuomo’s ethics package was one important step toward ending the influence of special interests in state government.
As the ranking member of the Health committee in the New York State Senate, Gustavo has been focused on policy aimed at addressing health disparities. Gustavo has passed legislation to ban smoking within 100 feet of all school entrances and exits and that of afterschool programs. He also developed and introduced legislation to make it mandatory for each school to have a certified physical education instructor and to require nutritional standards for kids’ meals with toys.
Gustavo has also been actively involved in issues of public safety and criminal justice as the former ranking member of the Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections committee. During his first term, he introduced and passed legislation that will allow charitable organizations throughout the state to post bail bonds for individuals who cannot afford to do so themselves. He also introduced legislation to create a pilot program for incarcerated parents to be housed close to their children as a way to demonstrate how important it is to be close to one’s family in order to get out of prison and successfully reintegrate into the community.
Prior to running for office, Gustavo also worked as a community organizer, working for Freddy Ferrer's Mayoral campaign and helping candidates for State Senate to become elected officials, including State Senator Jose Serrano Jr. and State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins. In early 2008, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) hired Gustavo to manage their activities on behalf of Barack Obama in several states including Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas – even to his home of Puerto Rico. When he returned to New York City, he served as Director of Community Outreach for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
His background as an educator and community organizer inspired Gustavo to teach community civics classes for Bronxites that covered topics ranging from the Constitution and Bill of Rights to how our local and state governments work. Encouraging members of the community and especially our youth to get more civically involved has been a priority for Gustavo throughout his career.
That is why for the last ten years, Gustavo has also served as a faculty member and mentor for “Somos el Futuro," the annual Model State Senate program sponsored by CUNY, SUNY, the NY State Assembly, and the Puerto Rican Hispanic Task Force. As a State Senator, Gustavo is now a sponsor of the Model State Senate program and continues to mentor and teach students through the process.
Gustavo Rivera was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. He graduated from the University of Puerto Rico. In 1998, Rivera came to New York to begin a doctoral program in political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has lived in the Bronx, in the same apartment building in Kingsbridge Heights for more than a decade.