Brooklyn Heights

Squadron looks forward to his new political role

August 11, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Daniel Squadron is not looking back after leaving the New York State Senate on Friday. Photo courtesy of Squadron’s office

Daniel Squadron had no regrets as he took his leave from the New York state Senate.

“It was a very difficult decision. It has been a privilege to serve the constituents of the 26th Senate District. It has been the privilege of a lifetime,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle after his surprise announcement on Aug. 9 that he was resigning from his state Senate seat effective Aug. 11.

Squadron (D-Brooklyn waterfront-lower Manhattan) said he is leaving elected office but not politics.

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He is looking forward to a new venture in which he will be teaming up with entrepreneur Adam Pritzker and economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University on a nationwide project to promote Democratic ideas and support political candidates.

“I have loved every minute of serving my constituents. But since the election of Donald Trump and over the course of the last year, it has become increasingly clear to me that I should be working to affect change. A year ago this would have been unthinkable. This opportunity to work with Adam Pritzker and Jeffrey Sachs is an exciting one. We will be working state by state to promote issues and candidates to try and have an impact,” he told the Eagle during a phone interview.

“We will be supporting candidates and working to improve state legislatures. It will be an electoral and a policy effort,” Squadron added.

The timing of his departure means the 26th Senate District seat that Squadron has held for nine years will be filled in the general election to take place on Nov. 7.

Squadron, a former top aide to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), was first elected to the state senate in 2008. In the interview, he recalled the many issues he brought to the forefront in the State Legislature and said he was proud to have had a hand in promoting those issues.

Squadron fought for Brooklyn Bridge Park and Bushwick Inlet Park, pushed for improvements to public housing and advocated for storm resiliency measures to be taken to protect coastal neighborhoods from future hurricanes.

Following the controversial closure of Long Island College Hospital, Squadron introduced the LICH Act, a bill that would have allowed the commissioner of the New York State Department of Health to approve a hospital closure only in cases where it could be proven that needs of the community and impacted stakeholders had been met.

Squadron said he is also proud extremely proud of the day to day constituent service work he did. “I worked school by school, intersection by intersection. The constituents are my bosses. They hired me,” he said.

Many of the quality of life issues he worked on did not garner headlines. “But people would see me on the sidewalk and thank me. That always meant a great deal to me,” he said.

Squadron admitted, however, that it wasn’t just the election of President Trump that led to his decision to leave the state Legislature. He candidly told the Eagle about the problems and frustrations associated with being a member of the minority part in the state senate. Republicans hold a slim majority in the chamber due to the cooperation the GOP receives from a group of breakaway Democrats called the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC).

Being a non-IDC Democrat and trying to get a bill passed in the state senate is a daunting task, according to Squadron. “There are structural barriers to getting things done. Majority power is absolutely power,” he said.

Much of his tenure was marked by fighting political corruption. He battled to remove a loophole in campaign finance laws that allows LLCs to contribute near-unlimited sums of money to political candidates.

Still, there is a lot of good work being done in the state Capitol, Squadron said. “There are great, extraordinary public officials in Albany,” he said.

His former senate colleagues wished him well. “Folks have been extremely gracious, generous,” he said.

His new political advocacy work harkens back to the political activism of his parents.

His father, Howard Squadron, marched with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s. And his mother, Anne Strickland Squadron, took part in famous Freedom Summer in 1964, when thousands of young people traveled to Mississippi to help African-Americans register to vote.

“My parents taught me that you don’t have to have a title or be an office-holder to have an influence,” Squadron told the Eagle.


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