Daniel O’Donnell was elected to represent the 69th District in the New York State Assembly in 2002. Since then, he has been a progressive voice in Albany advocating for legislation that ensures fairness, transparency, and dignity for all. His district includes Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights, and the Upper West Side.
Raised with his four siblings in Commack, Long Island, Danny learned to to be independent at a young age after losing his mother to breast cancer at age 12. Danny went on to earn a B.A. in public affairs from George Washington University and a law degree from CUNY Law School, where he currently serves on the Board of Visitors.
After seven years as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society, he opened his own public interest law firm on the Upper West Side. His community practice helped clients with tenant representation, as well as civil rights litigation ranging from employee discrimination to First Amendment rights. Danny served on Community Board 9 for seven years, four of which he served as Chair of the Land Use Committee.
As an openly gay man, Danny didn’t believe it was possible to be an openly LGBT elected official. After support and encouragement from friends and family, Danny became the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly. He is now one of five openly LGBT members in the New York State Legislature.
During his tenure in the Assembly he has been the prime sponsor of several trailblazing bills, most notably the Marriage Equality Act, a bill Danny led to passage in the Assembly five times before it was finally signed into law in June 2011. He was also the prime sponsor of New York’s anti-bullying legislation, the Dignity for All Students Act, which requires public schools in New York to combat bias-based bullying and harassment.
Danny currently serves as the Chair of the Correction Committee and the Chair of the Codes Subcommittee on Criminal Procedure. In these roles, Danny has worked consistently to achieve criminal justice reform in New York. He has written legislation to ban solitary confinement, subject personnel records of corrections and police officers to the FOIL process, and create an independent office to oversee New York State prisons.
In the community, Danny has consistently allocated funds to schools, public libraries, parks, and the arts. Since founding the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee 20 years ago, Danny has led the fight for historic designation and rezoning in Morningside Heights to protect the beauty and history of our neighborhood.
His other Standing Committee Assignments include: Codes; Education; Environmental Conservation; and Tourism, Parks, Arts & Sports Development. He and his husband, John Banta, have lived in Morningside Heights for almost 30 years.