Offering a wealth of governmental experience and an intimate knowledge of the Orthodox community, Simcha Eichenstein on Thursday declared his candidacy for the state Assembly seat being vacated by Dov Hikind.
Speaking at Hamodia’s office, the 34-year-old veteran of the de Blasio administration said in an interview that he will run in the Democratic primary this September to replace Mr. Hikind, a longtime lawmaker who announced this week that he will no longer run. Mr. Hikind is supporting Mr. Eichenstein’s candidacy and intends to campaign with him.
“I understand what’s at stake here,” said Mr. Eichenstein, who would be the first chassidic state legislator if elected. “I understand that we need an assemblyman to effectively represent our community’s interests in Albany. That’s why I’m running for office.”
Simcha Eichenstein was immediately endorsed by several of the 48th district’s large kehillos, as well as community activists.
“Simcha’s a great guy. He’s got the experience, I think he’ll make people very proud,” Hikind told Hamodia on Wednesday. “He’s very committed. I’ve actually worked with him and he will treat everyone in the proper way. He’s a real, real mentch.”
Mr. Eichenstein has prior experience working in Albany, having served as a senior advisor to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli from 2011 until 2015.
“Simcha grew up in Bobov,” said Yoel Rosenfeld, a Bobover askan who said that his kehillah coalesced about 6,000 votes in last year’s councilmanic election. “In his work in government, Simcha has accomplished for Klal Yisrael these past few years as well as any elected official. That is why we support him in his run for the Assembly and we anticipate that he will accomplish much more as our elected representative in Albany.”
“I got to know Simcha in his work at the mayor’s office,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Moskowitz, the administrator of Khal Machzikei Hadas of Belz. “He is a great, smart, young, ambitious chassidishe yungerman and a true askan for Klal Yisrael.”
The district is mostly comprised of Boro Park, although 30 percent of it is in Flatbush.
Leon Goldenberg and Chaskel Bennett, cofounders of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition as well as members of Agudath Israel of America’s board of trustees, echoed the endorsement.
“I have admired Simcha Eichenstein for many years and have every confidence that he will be an outstanding Assemblyman and a source of pride to our community,” Bennett said. “I strongly support his candidacy and know that many of my fellow askanim are equally excited to see him finally run for public office. He’s ready.”
“Simcha has been up in Albany for the past couple of years,” said Goldenberg, “and knows all Democratic members of the Assembly on a first name basis, and has relationships with them. He’ll be able to work with them and will be able to help our community.”
Prohibited by law from running for office while serving in a policymaking position, Mr. Eichenstein on Thursday left his City Hall position. He filed his paperwork to run Thursday.
“For 15 years,” he said, “I’ve been privileged to serve in government both on the state and city levels. We all know that the notion of ‘government’ can seem overwhelming insofar as one may feel their voice cannot be heard, their opinion not considered — and unfortunately too often, that is the case.”
“Our community,” he said, “cannot afford this luxury. Our neighbors can’t be ambivalent about government decisions. There is literally too much at stake. Our community, more so than others, is vulnerable to government intrusion. Our families stand to lose tremendously from a lack of understanding by certain segments of society including the political levers who too often view our unique and fulfilling way of life with suspicion.”
“There is so much that needs to be accomplished. I am equipped to effectively fight for those goals for our district,” he added. “I am ready. And I want to accomplish these goals with you. As I embark on this campaign, I ask for your support, for the opportunity to serve you and the community we love.”
“I am a proud product of our yeshivah system, a lifelong resident of Boro Park, and someone who shares your goals. Throughout my campaign, I make one promise to you, my family and myself: As a candidate, as your representative, and as your neighbor, I will carry the responsibility to make a true kiddush Hashem.”