By Abigail Morris
Challenging a longstanding incumbent is a bold move, especially when they have as many ties to the community as District 69 Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell. But that’s exactly what challenger Steven Appel hopes to do.
Appel believes that O’Donnell’s long term has made him complacent and some parts of the community feel ignored. These are the potential voters that Appel’s platform intends to help.
“How do we make a more proactive constituent services model, [one] that doesn’t wait for people to come to our office but instead goes out into the community and asks people what they need?” he said.
This is reflected in his campaigning – his strategy today avoided the O’Donnell stronghold at PS 165 in Morningside Heights and instead travelled around the rest of the district. He said, “It’s going really well, we’re very encouraged by the reception in the community.”
“I think a lot of people realize that parts of the district have been ignored and ready for someone to step in and listen to all corners of the community.”
But O’Donnell’s many supporters feel Appel does not have the same rapport with the community. Luis Roman, public defender at Legal Aid Society, “O’Donnell’s records in the past 14 years has been incredibly impressive,” he said, “He’s active in the issues that affect our community.”
Some residents weren’t impressed with politics in general. Doralynn Pines, long-time resident in Morningside Heights, expected to see more campaigns about the candidates beyond the leaflets she received.
“Many of our officials seem kind of sleepy,” she said. “At 80, I have been saddled with disappointment at the local level of politicians.”