The State Assembly seat vacated by the death of Michael Simanowitz now has a candidate in Daniel Rosenthal. “Queens Democrats are thrilled to formally nominate Daniel Rosenthal to be our party’s candidate in the 27th Assembly District,” said Rep. Joe Crowley, the Queens party chairman. “He has a deep and unwavering passion for public service, and has spent years working in this community to improve the lives of its residents.”
Raised in suburban New Jersey, Rosenthal, 26, dove into neighborhood politics as a student at Touro College’s Lander College for Men, where he interned in 2011 for then-Assemblyman Rory Lancman. Although he lost the race for Congress that year, Lancman’s staff remained loyal to him as he returned to elected office a year later as Councilman. Outspoken and tireless, Lancman’s week is comprised of numerous meetings, press conferences, and visits across the district covering Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Briarwood, and Jamaica.
Wherever he went, Rosenthal followed Lancman as his note-taker, listener, and observer. He learned about the hot-button issues and which agency representatives to contact, established relationships and earned the trust of community leaders, learning about leadership through field experience with Lancman. “He has been receptive to the needs of the community, extending himself on issues that had to be addressed, said Queens Jewish Community Council Executive director Cynthia Zalisky. “He is a very effective and responsive choice.”
In the early days of his internship, I supervised some of his constituent casework and recognized that in many ways he had the patience and resolve to carry each call and letter to its conclusion. The task of handling complaints from countless individuals may not be as visible or well-paid as that of the chief of staff, legislative director, or spokesperson, but it is the most rewarding and meaningful on an individual level. This is exactly how Simanowitz began his public service career, answering calls for Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn on various issues before rising to become her chief of staff and, ultimately, her successor in 2011.
Supervising both of us was Lancman’s then-chief of staff Dominic Panakal. “Daniel came to us because he loved the community. The passion that made him stand out as an intern is also what made Dan our first hire in the City Council and fueled his rise to District Director,” said Panakal.
At times, Rosenthal had the appearance of a shadow, as he followed Lancman from breakfast meetings to award dinners, putting in the long hours for which the Councilman is known to do. During elections, he went with Lancman to other districts, knocking on doors and handing out literature in support of other Democratic candidates. “I have observed the qualities that will make Daniel a success in the Assembly: a tireless work ethic, a deep passion for this community, and a dedication to solving problems and helping others,” Lancman said in a statement. “I am excited to see Daniel step forward to represent the 27th Assembly District, and I know he will continue the advocacy and the work of Mike Simanowitz.”
The sense of continuity that Rosenthal represents was very much on the minds of community leaders, who saw Simanowitz as a leading voice in the Assembly on matters of importance to Orthodox Jews such as tuition tax credits and other proposals to reduce the high cost of private education, alongside advocacy for Israel. “He would govern from the middle and he is open-minded,” said Kew Gardens Hills resident Alan Sherman. “No matter how small the issue, he would talk about it. He will pick up where Mike left off.”
Rosenthal was selected as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer by the four district leaders who vote on a successor when there is a vacancy. The special election where he will appear on the ballot will be on November 7, when the offices of Mayor, Public Advocate, and City Council seats will also be up for a vote. To date, no other candidates have been announced for the 27th Assembly seat, making Rosenthal’s path to Albany relatively easy. Nevertheless, he will be making the rounds across the district in the weeks to come, introducing himself to voters. “I look forward to meeting with families, community leaders, and local businesses to discuss how we can work together to build on Mike’s many achievements,” said Rosenthal.
By Sergey Kadinsky