By Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder
We have all heard it at some point or another. I know I’ve said it, politicians say it, our yeshivos say it, our rabbanim say it, it is screamed from loudspeakers on Election Day. But does anyone actually believe it?
The much anticipated, promoted, and advertised special election on February 19 has come and gone, and while we now finally have a result, it seems our work is only just beginning.
After only 26 votes separated the two candidates on election night, after all the absentee and affidavit ballots were counted, Pesach Osina was narrowly defeated by Donovan Richards by a slim margin of 79 votes.
When I was elected in a special election in 2011, I became the first Orthodox elected official to represent this district in the New York State Assembly. In my short tenure, I have been able to build partnerships and alliances that have allowed me to deliver for every constituent that I represent. I have built my career in public service on the idea that if I work hard and dedicate myself, I will be able to help the k’lal and improve the community. What I have learned is that it takes real partners and assistance from others to get the job done. On a daily basis I rely on the guidance from our rabbanim, assistance from our local organizations, and input from residents to ably deliver for the community, and b’H we have been successful.
While I work tirelessly in state government, Far Rockaway and Bayswater have been under-represented for over a decade in New York City. When the opportunity arose to demonstrate our strength as a united community and potentially elect another partner, after careful deliberation, together with daas Torah, Pesach Osina decided to run for City Council.
On February 19, as a community we needed to unite and Pesach needed the partnership of every registered voter to do their part and show up at the polls. Political insiders and the press predicted this was going to be a close election, and as Election Day approached, every tool in our arsenal was used to spread a positive message about the qualities of our candidate and the importance of voting.
All the ballots have been counted, and Pesach Osina received 2,566 votes, not enough to win the City Council seat. We were 79 votes short of victory! Just 79 votes!
How many of us know a friend or relative or spouse that did not vote? How many of us did not vote ourselves? What message would have been sent if Pesach had been victorious? Imagine how we could have benefited from having a councilman that truly understands the plight of yeshiva parents.
As I said earlier, we finally have a result, but it seems our work is only just beginning. As a community we need to continue to maximize our potential voting strength and register every resident in the community to vote. There are no more excuses. The frum community faces unprecedented attacks on our religious freedom such as educational choice and b’ris milah, and our voices must be heard and made even stronger.
Although turnout could have been much higher, our strong showing has sent a clear message to every elected official across the city and state that we, as a community, will not be ignored.
I want to congratulate our new councilman, Donovan Richards, who ran an honest and positive campaign. We are old friends and have already met multiple times to discuss issues and ways to work together. I am confident he will make a great partner and you will be seeing him and benefiting from his great work.
The message has never been louder and clearer. Every vote counts, and it is incumbent upon each of us to do our part and be a partner in the success of our great community. v