BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing) was acknowledged by his colleagues in government for being the youngest member of the New York State Legislature at age 26 during his swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, but also as someone who will build upon the legacy of former Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, who died in September.
“Michael Simanowitz was the assemblyman here for about six years and left us way too soon,” said Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens). “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him or reach for my phone to call him. But he’s longer with us.”
Grodenchik recalled that one of his last conversations with Simanowitz was in regards to Rosenthal and how Simanowtiz felt that he was an “amazing guy.”
“I know he’s looking down tonight with gratitude because he knows you’re here tonight to carry on his work and the work of Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn,” said Grodenchik. “When Mike left us, we questioned who could replace him and the discussion quickly turned to Dan Rosenthal because of all the qualities I think an elected official needs, the most important is empathy and sympathy for the people and wanting to do good and wanting to help the community and being there for all the right reasons.”
U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the ceremony’s emcee, referred to the evening as “a passing of the baton.”
“It’s a new beginning in our state’s capital,” said Crowley. “Looking back and saluting the gentleman who served at the state assembly, but most importantly, was a friend to each and every one of us in this room, Mike Simanowitz. You never had a problem worrying about his integrity. You never worried whether he was putting himself before others because that wasn’t who he was. He was constantly serving. I miss Mike and always will and this community will miss him too. But it gives and opportunity for rebirth and renewal. That’s what we have in Daniel.”
Crowley said that although he doesn’t know Rosenthal as well as he knew Simanowitz, he is certain that Rosenthal will faithfully serve District 27.
Both Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Public Advocate Letitia James reiterated that Rosenthal is responsible for serving his community.
“I served in the assembly for four to five years and I will tell you it’s a serious place that needs serious people,” said Katz. “It’s a place where the budget is being discussed and bills are getting passed. If someone says there ought to be a law, you’re expected to write it. And it needs serious folks to represent this community in Albany.”
Katz said that the community had a fierce advocate in Simanowitz.
“Daniel has been an advocate for this community and, beyond his accomplishments, I want to acknowledge Daniel for heeding the call to serve,” said James. “Most 26-year-olds aren’t spending all of their time traveling around the community, listening to people’s concerns and advocating on their behalf, but this young man plans to do just that and more.”
During his time at Lander College, Rosenthal worked for Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) when he was the assemblyman for District 25. After Rosenthal graduated college, Lancman hired him again, but this time as councilman. Rosenthal said that it was during his years working for Lancman when he learned the responsibility of public service and how serious it is.
Lancman, who spoke briefly during the swearing-in ceremony, said that he is certain Rosenthal is ready to take on the responsibility, despite the shoes he has to fill.
“Michael Simanowitz was beloved by this community and has left an incredible legacy, complete with many accomplishments and friendships,” said Rosenthal. “Our community is stronger because of his work. I am so grateful for the kindness he’s shown me over the years. I know I have big shoes to fill. I will do everything in my power to do the work that defines Mike’s life.”
Rosenthal will meet with the Queens Tribune this week to talk about his plans for District 27 and for what he will be advocating in Albany.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, email@example.com or @reporter_ariel.