BY NATHAN DUKE
In January, state Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing) was sworn in as the representative for Queens’ District 27, just five months after the death of former Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz. Rosenthal—who, at age 26, is the youngest member of the legislative body—recently dropped by the Queens Tribune to discuss his plans for the district he represents.
Rosenthal—who worked as the district director for Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) when he was the assemblyman for District 25, all the while attending Lander College—said that his top priority for the office is to bring essential services to the constituents in his district, which includes Kew Gardens, College Point, Flushing, and sections of Whitestone and Auburndale.
“I’m passionate about things that affect people’s day-to-day life,” Rosenthal said. “It’s rewarding to help people navigate the bureaucracy.”
Rosenthal said that he became interested in public service in college while working for Lancman.
“I was interested in politics—I worked on the campaign and thought it would be a great learning experience,” he said. “I fell in love with government work there. You deal with so many people from so many walks of life. Everyone has unique problems and unique issues.”
Since taking his seat in the Assembly, Rosenthal said that he has been added to the legislative body’s labor, social services, aging, insurance and real property tax committees.
Rosenthal said that he recently introduced his first bill in the Assembly that would require the city to give homeowners the ability to opt out for trees that are planted in front of their homes.
“I like trees, but you should have the right to say ‘no,’” he said of the bill. “Trees block up the sewer line.”
Other pieces of legislation that he has worked on since taking office include one on cyber-bullying that would increase penalties for persons over age 18 who bully minors, and another that would require the Department of Transportation to level off curbs after repairing them to ensure proper curb heights.
Rosenthal said that he believed the top-three issues in Albany are currently the state’s budget, fixing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) system and combating sexual harassment.
“The MTA is in a crisis now—and we need a solution,” he said. “At the end of the day, everyone needs to stop pointing fingers and something needs to happen. The MTA needs to be more efficient before we throw more money at them. It needs to be a collaborative process. The city and state need to take responsibility.”
The assemblyman added that MTA Commissioner Joe Lhota had some “interesting ideas” that were “fresh and out of the box.” However, he did not support proposals for congestion pricing in the five boroughs.
“Congestion pricing would disproportionately punish my district,” Rosenthal said. “It’s a tax on the outer boroughs.”
Regarding the education needs of his district, Rosenthal said that he supported private schools, but only as long as they were not draining resources from public schools.
“[Private schools] relieve the burden on public schools, so there should be tax relief,” he said. “The yeshivas in my district teach the curriculum and the kids are going to college. But we need to make sure that money is not taken from public schools.”
A swearing-in ceremony for Rosenthal that was held in mid-January drew a bevy of Queens and city elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Public Advocate Letitia James, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) and Lancman.
Reach editor-in-chief Nathan Duke via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 122.