'A Passion to Serve'

Facing a primary challenge, Assembly Member Dan Quart says one pressing issue affects all others: the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

22 May 2020 | 02:36

Assembly Member Dan Quart will have primary challenger this June.

A Court of Appeals declined to take up Quart’s case against the city Board of Elections, which argued that his opponent, 22-year-old Cameron Koffman, did not satisfy the residency requirements to run for office in New York State — cementing Koffman’s place on the Democratic Primary ballot to represent the 73rd District.

Even with a challenger, Quart, who was first elected in 2011, has the backing of prominent elected officials, including city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. He’s also received endorsements from Planned Parenthood, NYS Laborers Union, the Working Families Party and the New York League of Conservation Voters, among others.

In his bid for re-election, Quart says there is one pressing issue that affects all others: the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“That is the singular issue that all of us should be focusing on,” Quart said in a recent interview with Our Town. “We need to think about how to make state government more responsive to our community, especially on the East Side and East Midtown, as we try and dig out of this terrible virus and get back to something more normal.”

Four Key Issues

Quart outlined four main issues that he will be focused on in his continued service of the district, and that he will continue to prioritize if his constituents send him back to Albany, and they include: government oversight, helping small businesses, transportation and making voting easier.

Quart said the first priority would be to hold public hearings into the state government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, specifically into the failure of the state’s unemployment system, which has a backlog of unpaid benefits to thousands of New Yorkers.

“My office and myself, we've all been actively involved with the Department of Labor in trying to push a greater sense of responsiveness by the Department of Labor to both access and provide payment to people for unemployment claims,” said Quart. “And it hasn't worked as quickly or seamlessly as it could have.”

Second, Quart said he was looking into different state programs that could go to help small businesses, where that be through federal stimulus dollars or abatements of the property tax system.

“When state government and city government allows them to reopen — whether on a partial basis or whatever basis they are — and that is [going to be] such a critical thing,” said Quart.

Additionally, Quart said that the usage of the city’s transportation system is down, with a reduced ridership and fewer people purchasing monthly Metro cards, which in turn means less money to fund the MTA. He said he would work to secure that funding to ensure continued construction of the Second Avenue subway and east side access.

In the last few months, Quart said he has been pushing the Board of Elections to make it easier to people to fie absentee ballots so that voters do not have to risk their health to be able to vote this June.

“Hopefully we can build on that in legislation in Albany about no excuse absentee ballots as well as making voting easier on all levels, and especially expanding voting by mail.”

A Run for DA

Much has been made of the fact that Quart has stated his intention to run for Manhattan District Attorney when Cyrus Vance is up for re-election in 2021, with the tabloids calling Quart a “double-office seeker” and Koffman, his opponent in the assembly race, calling him to drop out of the DA contest.

Quart, however, said he has always been transparent with his constituents about his plans.

“I did announce publicly last September, that I intend to challenge for district attorney because of my deep dissatisfaction with how [Vance] operated the office for 10 plus years,” he said. “And I've always been open and honest about my desire to continue representing them, but that in the future, I would hope to have their confidence to become their district attorney.”

Quart said he wants his constituents to know that after nine years he is still energized by the work he’s doing in Albany.

“There's been no waning in my passion to serve and my commitment to my constituents,” said Quart. “I wake up each day thankful for the opportunity to go to work on their behalf.”