The youngest member of the State Assembly took his oath of office before a packed auditorium at P.S. 201 in Pomonok, sharing the stage with his family, fiancée, and local political leaders. “I hope to be a problem solver first and a partisan last,” said Rosenthal. “My office will be available for your voice to be heard.”
For the 150 members of this legislative body, the oath of office is a formality that often serves as an opportunity for a public presentation, outlining goals, sharing the spotlight with deserving individuals, and offering gratitude to mentors. Rosenthal’s ceremony was emceed by Councilman Barry Grodenchik of Eastern Queens, who grew up in Pomonok and attended P.S. 201, with Congressman Joseph Crowley as the featured speaker.
“He’s bright, he’s new, fresh, and excited. We want him and hope that he inspires more young people into public service,” said Crowley. In his role as chair of the Queens County Democratic Organization, Crowley provides support to elected members of his party and their staff, many of whom later advance to elected office. Crowley, 55, has been in Congress since 1999, previously serving as an Assemblyman.
He reminded the audience that he began representing his constituents at the age of 24, likewise Senator Schumer also entered the Assembly at 24; and further back on the timeline, President Theodore Roosevelt began his political career in the New York State Assembly at 23. These examples demonstrate that for many of New York’s political greats, the Assembly is where it began, an ideal place for Rosenthal, 26, to gain experience in leadership.
Bayside Assemblyman Ed Braunstein quipped that with his new colleague, he feels old at 36, but then added that he entered the Assembly at 29, after working for then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Fresh Meadows Assemblywoman Nily Rozic entered the legislature at 26, after serving as chief of staff for Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh in Manhattan. “That experience translates in the day-to-day running of an office and helping constituents,” said Rozic, on being a staffer prior to assuming public office. “There’s nothing more important than helping your neighbors.”
Rosenthal’s path to the Assembly began in a similar manner. Raised in Manalapan, New Jersey, he settled in Queens to study at Touro College’s Lander College for Men. In 2012, then-Assemblyman Rory Lancman was running for Congress, hiring Rosenthal as an intern. Although Lancman lost that race, he hired Rosenthal a year later when he graduated and Lancman was elected to the City Council. Under the guidance of Chief of Staff Dominic Panakal, Rosenthal handled the constituent services portfolio, resolving hundreds of cases relating to interactions between individuals and city agencies. After Panakal went on to law school, Rosenthal was promoted to District Director, representing Lancman at community events.
Following the death of Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, Rosenthal won the support of the majority of district leaders to succeed him. “On who could replace Michael Simanowitz, the discussion quickly turned to Dan Rosenthal,” said Grodenchik. “It is about empathy. I am absolutely convinced in my heart of hearts that we could not have selected a better Assemblyman in the 27th District.”
In the front row were Rosenthal’s parents, brother, sister, nieces, grandfather, and his fiancée Orli Haken. “He’s been into politics from a young age and had all kinds of books on politics,” said his father Harvey Rosenthal. “He’s a thoughtful young man who looks out for others. It’s a lot of long hours, and it isn’t about money.”
Borough President Melinda Katz referenced Haken, thanking her for allowing Rosenthal to take the time-consuming position. She took it in stride, noting that as a resident physician at Montefiore Hospital, she is also familiar with long work hours and caring for people.
Among the supporters at the ceremony, Jeff Leb of Cedarhurst remembered his political start in Kew Gardens Hills at Rosenthal’s age when he worked for then-Councilman Jim Gennaro. “It is very refreshing to see the next generation of leaders and the qualities that Daniel Rosenthal brings to the table,” said Leb, who serves as the government relations director for UJA-Federation on New York. “Michael Simanowitz was an amazing individual, and I am confident that Daniel will be able to follow in his large footsteps.”
by Sergey Kadinsky