By Gus Saltonstall
Daniel J. O’Donnell, a longtime New York State assemblymember representing portions of the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights, announced this weekend that he will not be seeking reelection after more than 20 years of service to the 69th district, which includes a stretch of blocks from West 82nd to West 125th streets and parts of Central Park.
“After several months of deep reflection on the collective victories we’ve accomplished in the 69th district and across the great state of New York, my birthday [November 17] has provided a fitting opportunity to share my decision that I will not seek reelection next November,” O’Donnell, known to all as “Danny,” wrote in an email to constituents.
“Serving you and our community over the years has been an honor and a privilege,” he added. “This rewarding experience has enriched my life in countless ways, for which I am eternally grateful. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to each of you for placing your trust in me, for your unwavering support, and for the opportunity to serve.”
Born in Queens, O’Donnell attended George Washington University and CUNY Law School. After graduation, he worked as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society for seven years, before opening his own Upper West Side law firm focused on tenant issues and civil rights violations.
During that period, he also became a member of Community Board 9 and eventually ran for the 69th Assembly District seat in 2002, beating out seven other Democrats in the primary.
O’Donnell sponsored many pieces of legislation during his time in office, but none more prominent and impactful than his work on the Marriage Equality Act.
O’Donnell, the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly, spearheaded and sponsored, on multiple occasions, the Marriage Equality Act, which was passed into law by then Governor Andrew Cuomo in June of 2011.
O’Donnell lives with his husband, John, in Morningside Heights with their rescue dog, Roxie. He is the brother of comedian Rosie O’Donnell.
His term will finish in December of 2024.
The Democratic primary for the seat will take place this June, and West Side Rag will provide coverage on the candidates and the race as it plays out.
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