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5 Minutes With // Senator Charles "Chuck" Schumer

Charles Schumer
Charles “Chuck” Ellis Schumer is the senior U.S. senator from New York and the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate.

Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

Political credentials: Schumer entered politics in 1974, when, at age 23, he became the youngest member of the New York Legislature since Theodore Roosevelt. Through three terms in the legislature and 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, he’s never lost an election. Elected U.S. senator in 1998, he became New York’s senior senator in 2001 after Daniel Patrick Moynihan retired.

Brainpower credentials: Schumer scored a perfect 1600 on his SATs and was valedictorian of the Class of ’67 at James Madison High School. He later attended Harvard and Harvard Law School.

First media appearance: As a high school student on the It’s Academic TV quiz show.

// What is the best thing about having New York City as part of your constituency?
It’s easily the interesting people. Every New Yorker has a story to tell.

// What is the biggest challenge NYC faces in the next decade?
We’ve enjoyed tremendous growth in the last decade, gaining a million people. The challenge will be providing good-paying jobs to continue that growth.

// What’s a surprising fact about New York state that we don’t know?
It has the third-largest rural population in the United States.

// What’s your favorite building in the city skyline? Why?
The Chrysler Building. It’s the best art deco skyscraper I’ve ever seen.

// When you accompany a first-time visitor to the city, what do you insist that he or she sees?
The diversity of the neighborhoods in the outer boroughs is something to see. Within two miles in Brooklyn, you can go from an Irish neighborhood to an Italian neighborhood to a yuppie neighborhood to a Jewish neighborhood.

// Let’s test your political skills . . . Yankees or Mets?
Yankees. There were no Mets when I was a boy. The Brooklyn Dodgers left when I was six, and the Yankees had Mantle, Maris and Whitey Ford. It began a lifelong attachment to the Yankees, in good times and bad.

// Describe your perfect New York day?
Every Saturday when I ride my bike through a different part of New York, stopping and talking with people along the way. Last weekend, I stopped to visit St. Matthias Church in the Ridgewood part of Queens. They hold Masses in four languages there!

// How do you hail a cab? Arm or whistle?
Arm. My father-in-law was a cab driver and that was always his advice: Raise your arm and be resolute, but not overexcited.

// What’s the question you wished we’d asked and the answer you want to give?
Who will win next year’s Super Bowl? The Giants.

This article has been adapted from the original, which appeared in the June 2009 issue of Sky.

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