BY AARON MOELLER
Red flags mean nothing if you don’t take the time to look at them. Now that the initial shock has worn off, I am really going to miss Daniel Friedman.
This past year was grotesquely overlamented in the media, but I thought, being the optimist I am, it wasn’t all that terrible. This was true until the very last weekend. As I was preparing for New Year’s Eve, I learned that a friend of mine had
jumped to his death into the Hudson River. He was 30.
Daniel, was a mentch type of guy. A person, who tried in earnest to work for his fellow constituents. I had the privilege of taking over his position as a politics writer in 2012 (after he decided to work in government full time). He was my go-to political insider for all stories local. Whenever I couldn’t make heads or tails out of what corrupt/shady/confusing deal was going on in Albany, he would always take the time out to explain it in layman’s terms. He was a type of political wunderkind, working super long hours with the local Democratic party, and paying his dues.
A few years ago, he announced that he was going to run for mayor of a local Municipality. He was confident, he articulated his plans to run a corrupt free, clean office. Although he was facing immense pressure, he was super diligent. He knocked on every eligible voter’s door, he held town hall meetings, he even spent his own money on campaign finances. He outlined a fine budget proposal, consolidated stuff, all the types of boring line items that if added up, have the potential to make a small city into
a great city. And he seemed optimistic. He was looking well. I of course endorsed him in the local paper, and I ran his weekly outline for a better future in Spring Valley, New York.
Then came election season. He lost. He lost by a lot. I could tell he was crestfallen, even though he tried his best not to get angry about the results. I ended up speaking with him off the record, alone in his one bedroom apartment. He felt betrayed. His own people, ran a different candidate, one they favored, for the cash that would hopefully line their Mini-Vans and SUVs. They favored a political puppet over him and his fine tuned, calculated municipal goals.
He had lost faith in his community. It is not something he spoke about openly, after all he was uber- professional. The years following the election, he felt a keen sense of alienation, all because of his idealist personality. I think it is time we spoke openly about the problems of greed and corruption in our community, the same way we have no choice but to talk about drugs and sex to our teenagers. We lost a real hardworking man, and we lost a friend.
To politicians, he was a beacon of integrity, and to those of us who knew him tangentially, he should be remembered as a model of human dignity.
Moeller, a contributor to the Rockland County Times, was the editor of the Advocate (Monsey-based weekly) for several years earlier this decade. His predecessor was the late Daniel Friedman.