NYS Assembly

Daniel O'Donnell became the first openly gay man to serve in the state Assembly when he took office in 2002.

Manhattan Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell is the longest-tenured public servant in the race for public advocate, having served in Albany since 2003. In making his case in the special election that will take place on February 26, he points to authoring the state’s marriage equality law, writing the bill that lowered speed limits, and pushing criminal justice reform. But he also points to something he didn’t do: sign the city’s letter inviting Amazon to locate its second headquarters here.

“I read the one-page letter. I said, ‘I’m not signing this letter because it’s like sending someone a blank check.’ Then the mayor called me week after week asking me to sign the letter. I didn’t,” O’Donnell recalled on Wednesday’s Max & Murphy show on WBAI, noting that many officials, including one of his opponents in the special election, did sign. “In the end, do you have the strength to stand up and say ‘I’m not signing a blank check’?”

Below, hear O’Donnell lay out his plans for the office of public advocate, including what he’d do if he had to step in as mayor (“I call my husband and tell him to hold onto his hat. Then I keep my pledge to not run for the mayoralty”) and why he thinks the post of public advocate is worth having: “We are living in a time of creeping executive power,” he says. “We’re fortunate in New York City to have a check on executive power.”

Or listen to the full show (featuring two other candidates, attorney Dawn Small and Assemblymember Michael Blake) at bottom.

Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, candidate for public advocate

Full show, January 16

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