Simcha Felder

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Simcha Felder
Member of the New York State Senate
from the 17th district
Assumed office
January 1, 2013
Preceded by David Storobin
Member of the New York City Council from the 44th district
In office
Preceded by Noach Dear
Succeeded by David G. Greenfield
Personal details
Political party Democratic (caucuses with Republicans)
Religion Jewish

Simcha Felder is a member of the New York State Senate, representing the 17th District, which includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Borough Park, Midwood, Brooklyn Chinatown and parts of Kensington, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend. He was first elected in November 2012, defeating incumbent Republican State Senator David Storobin.[1] Within days of his election, however, Felder announced that despite being elected as a Democrat, he intended to caucus with the Republicans in the New York State Senate.

Felder previously served as deputy comptroller for budget and accounting of the City of New York, having been appointed to the post by Comptroller John Liu on January 5, 2010. He was previously a member of the New York City Council from Brooklyn, representing the 44th Council District, which encompasses parts of Borough Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst. He entered office on January 1, 2002, and was re-elected in 2005 and 2009.

Felder's late father was Rabbi Harry Felder, spiritual leader of Beth Aaron Congregation in Borough Park.[2]

City Council[edit]

Felder gained popularity among his conservative Jewish constituents for advocating strongly on their behalf, including in matters relating to Israel.[3] Although personally opposed to homosexuality as being against Judaism, he backed Christine Quinn for City Council Speaker in what was seen as a political move to gain allies.[4] Although Felder claimed to support Quinn, he said he could not actually vote for her because of religious reasons.[5] When the time came to vote Quinn for Council Speaker, Felder did not cast a vote and took a trip to the restroom.[6] Unlike most New York Democrats who identify as being pro-choice, Felder is a staunch opponent of abortion rights.[7]

Felder backed city funding for religious schools, while maintaining that he opposes displays of religion in public schools.[8][9] Felder has also gained attention by calling for better labeling of caffeine content in foods and beverages,[10] as well as a ban on the distribution of unsolicited fliers.[11] Felder is perhaps best known for his attempt to ban the feeding of pigeons in New York City.[12]

He was Chair of the Council's Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime uses in his first term. In January 2006, he became Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations and in December 2008, he became Chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, a position he held until his resignation. As Chair of Governmental Operations, Felder supported Mayor Bloomberg's plan to curb Pay to Play contracting practices and the Mayor's bid to extend term limits so the Mayor could run for a third term.[13]

The committee also provided oversight of the City Board of Elections' implementation of the Help America Vote Act and enacted legislation to transfer the Environmental Control Board from the Department of Environmental Protection to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. The Committee also enacted legislation to extend term limits from two terms to three. As a member of the Council's Land Use Committee, Felder was part of a group of New York state legislators that has consistently blocked plans to renovate United Nations headquarters, calling the UN anti-American and anti-Israel.[14] In spite of such calls, the UN recently announced that it will undergo a $1 billion makeover.[15]

In 2005, Felder (a Democrat) raised eyebrows when he crossed party lines to endorse then-Republican Mike Bloomberg in his bid for reelection as New York City mayor.[16] He asserted that Bloomberg is the only Republican he ever voted for and implied that he will be the only Republican he will ever support.[17]

Felder again caught attention in 2008, when he announced his Democratic presidential primary election vote for Senator Barack Obama "in protest" for what he felt was bad behavior by the campaign of New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, following comments made by former president Bill Clinton regarding the South Carolina primary.[18]

Prior to becoming a City Council member, Felder was chief of staff to New York State Assembly member Dov Hikind. New York City term limits would have prevented Felder from seeking a third term in the City Council and he was widely speculated to be mounting a run for the citywide office of comptroller.[19] Instead, Felder ran for state senate against Kevin Parker in the 21st District.[20] Incumbent Kevin Parker won the 2008 race by getting 49% of the vote.[21]


In April 2006, Felder accused the highest-ranking uniformed member of the NYPD, Chief Joseph Esposito, of using inappropriate language when Esposito attempted to quell individuals who entered a police station house during a riot in Borough Park. Felder indicated that he personally heard the chief say, "Get the fucking Jews out of here." The Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates police misconduct, later found the accusation against Esposito unsubstantiated, but did reprimand Chief Esposito for using profanity. When subsequently asked to comment on the Review Board's finding, Felder's office stated that Felder had "no comment" about the incident and that he "wants to put the matter behind him".[22]

Following his November 2012 election to the New York State Senate, Felder announced that despite being elected as a Democrat he intended to caucus with the Republicans. Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Frank Seddio called Felder's defection a "disgrace and a complete betrayal of his constituents." [23]


  1. ^ "G.O.P. in Surprise Fight to Hold New York Senate". New York Times. November 7, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Beth Aaron Congregation". Retrieved June 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Council's Felder Sides With Mayor". New York Sun. April 14, 2005. 
  4. ^ "Boro Park Pol Favors Gay Speaker Hopeful". The Jewish Week. December 30, 2005. 
  5. ^ "The Calculating Clown". City Hall News. April 17, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Felder's Private Office". New York Observer. January 13, 2006. 
  7. ^ "NYS Sen. Dems Delay Abortion Vote". The Lid. July 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ "City Adds Funds For Catholic, Jewish Schools". New York Sun. July 10, 2006. 
  9. ^ "Simcha Felder Against Allowing Religious Symbols In Schools". New York Sun. June 19, 2007. 
  10. ^ "NYC Councilman Wants Caffeine Labeling". Associated Press. February 20, 2007. 
  11. ^ "Law would destroy my livelihood!". The Brooklyn Paper. May 5, 2007. 
  12. ^ "$1,000 fine for feeding pigeons? N.Y. considers". MSNBC. November 14, 2007. 
  13. ^ "The Last Days of Pay to Play". New York Magazine. February 26, 2007. 
  14. ^ "UN Takes A Beating". The Jewish Week. December 17, 2004. 
  15. ^ "U.N. signs contract with Skanska for HQ renovation". Reuters. July 27, 2007. 
  16. ^ "Felder: I'm a Malcolm Smith Democrat". New York Daily News. June 2, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Felder is Not a Doghouse Democrat". Room Eight NY. August 4, 2008. 
  18. ^ Simcha Felder for Obama. YouTube. January 30, 2008. 
  19. ^ "Felder Switches To Senate Run". New York Observer. June 1, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Citing Bloomberg, Felder Makes Senate Run Official". New York Daily News. June 4, 2008. 
  21. ^ "Silver Staves Off Challenge; Connor Is Out". New York Sun. September 10, 2008. 
  22. ^ "Probe: Chief didn't use slur". Newsday. August 4, 2007. 
  23. ^ "Brooklyn Dems' Frank Seddio Calls Simcha Felder Plan To Caucus With Senate GOP 'A Betrayal'". New York Daily News. November 14, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Noach Dear
New York City Council, 44th District
Succeeded by
David G. Greenfield
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Martin Malave Dilan
New York State Senate, 17th District