Alan Gerson Taking 'Very Serious' Look at Run for Squadron Senate Seat

Left: Former City Councilman Alan Gerson during his unsuccessful campaign in 2009 for a third term. Right: Daniel Squadron, who resigned his State Senate seat last week. Photos: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Aug. 14, 2017

Two-term former City Councilman Alan Gerson is “very serious” about returning to the Lower Manhattan political stage.

In his first public announcement, Gerson, 59, told the Trib on Monday that he is considering a run for the state Senate seat abruptly vacated last week by Daniel Squadron.

“We have created an exploratory committee and I will have a formal announcement within a week to 10 days,” Gerson, who was first elected to the City Council in 2001, said in a telephone interview. In 2009, Margaret Chin defeated Gerson in his bid for a third term in the Council. He is currently in private law practice representing non-profit clients.

According to state law, the County Democratic Committee will choose the candidate to run in November. “If this were a popular election I’m quite confident I would have great support,” Gerson said, “and we need to see if the County Committee will be responsive.” He also said he needs to consider the continued representation of his clients as well as the potential field of rivals.

Brian Kavanagh, an 11-year Assemblyman whose East Side district runs north from the Lower East Side, and Paul Newell, a district leader who unsuccessfully ran for the Assembly last year, are the other declared candidates for the 26th Senate District seat, which includes Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

If he runs, Gerson said, he will tout “the tremendous amount of progress” he helped bring to Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11.

Squadron stunned his constituents, especially local leaders, on Wednesday, Aug. 9, when he publicly announced his resignation, taking effect Friday Aug. 11, from the office he had held for eight years.

“Wow, unbelievable,” said Community Board 1 chair Anthony Notaro, who said he was shocked at the news. Notaro called Squadron and his staff “very responsive to our community.”

“We’re going to have to recover from this a little bit,” Notaro said, noting in particular the senator’s ongoing involvement in the School Overcrowding Task Force and another long-running task force that deals with the reconstruction of Worth Street. “There were things he had accomplished and things he had in the works,” Notaro said. “And all those things are going to have to be picked up by the new person.

Squadron says he is leaving the senate to help promote progressive candidates and policies at the state level around the country. In a telephone interview with the Trib, he called President Trump “the driving force.”

“I really think we’re in a crisis and I feel compelled to try to have the biggest impact I can,” said Squadron, who is teaming up with Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University economics professor and writer, and Adam Pritzker, an entrepreneur and member of the Hyatt Hotels family. “I’m excited to turn towards trying to help states reach their potential, which hopefully can have an impact nationally.”

Squadron said his decision to leave the senate was made just days before the announcement and acknowledged that he has yet to work out just how he will go about meeting his new challenge.

“There’s more to come on that,” he said. “I’ve been a full-time state senator right up to the end here, and my decision was made in the last week or so. There’s some work we’re going to do before we launch more broadly.”

In an op-ed essay in the Daily News, titled “Why I’m Leaving the N.Y. Senate,” Squadron vented his frustration at the “seedy” state senate, with its “‘three men in a room’ decision-making, loophole-riddled campaign finance rules and a governor-controlled budget process” that have “thwarted” his legislative efforts.

“When it comes to government reform, Dan Squadron is right,” Gerson said. “There is a great need for reform but I’ll be in there fighting for it every day and we’ll get it done.”