Brooklyn, NY – Simcha Felder launched his candidacy yesterday afternoon for the newly-created “Super Jewish” state senate seat, potentially returning a longtime community insider to elected office.
“I look forward, G-d willing, to the opportunity once again to serve the community and the people ofNew York State,” said Mr. Felder, currently a deputy in the New York City Comptroller’s office.
Mr. Felder is the first to announce a bid for the new district, which comprises Boro Park and Flatbush. He told Hamodia’s editorial board that he hoped for a unifying campaign.
A prominent activist within the community, who spoke to Hamodia on condition of anonymity, voiced his strong support for Mr. Felder. He added that other lay leaders were also behind Felder’s candidacy.
Mr. Felder said that he will run in the primary on the Democratic line, “but as always, I will work with anyone and everyone who will work with this community.” The Republicans currently hold a tenuous 32-30 lead over Democrats in the state legislature’s upper chamber.
A former city councilman, Mr. Felder represented much of the new district from 2002 until he was hired in 2010 by Comptroller John Liu as deputy for budget and accounting. Mr. Felder said that he is not planning to leave his job until he assumes his senate seat on Jan. 1, if elected.
“I intend to remain at my job during the campaign,” he said, “and will continue working with the comptroller to ensure that the city’s accounting and budgetary responsibilities function at the highest level.”
Mr. Liu wished Mr. Felder well in his race.
“Deputy Comptroller Simcha Felder is a key member of my senior leadership team,” Mr. Liu said in a statement. “Earlier today, I congratulated Simcha on his decision to once again pursue public office. This is a critical time for New York State, and someone with Simcha’s passion and skills would have a significant impact in addressing the challenges that lie ahead.”
Mr. Felder won four successive races for city council with the slogan, “We all need Simcha.” During his terms in office, Mr. Felder was known for his strategic alliance with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, crossing the aisle to endorse him for a controversial third term.
In an interview with Hamodia, Mr. Felder agreed that his sense of humor – he was voted funniest council member while in the city council – would help him inAlbany.
“At a minimum, if nothing else,” he said, “I have a new audience in Albany for my material.”
Mr. Felder said he is determined to run “a very successful and a very aggressive campaign.” According to the latest financial disclosures, he has a formidable $318,000 campaign chest.
Asked if he expects others to enter the race, Mr. Felder said, “I would hope that the community would unite and support me in this endeavor.”
Mr. Felder learned in Yeshivah Karlin Stolin, and in Yeshivah Torah Vodaath, where he was a talmid of Harav Avraham Yaakov Pam, zt”l – from whom he related a personal anecdote that taught him how to deal with people. He received brachos this week from two prominent Rebbes in New York for his current bid.
Boro Park and Flatbush, which together comprise one of the densest Orthodox Jewish areas outside of Israel, has long been divvied up among six state senators. Last month, as part of the changes made following the 2010 U.S. Census, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Long Island), acceded to a longstanding dream of community askanim and set up a new district joining the two neighborhoods.
Approximately two-thirds of the new district is Jewish. State Sen. Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn) retained a swath of Flatbush, which is home to a sizeable mostly-Syrian Jewish community.
The Democratic primary is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 11.