From the time David Buchwald arrived in Albany as the representative for the 93rd Assembly District, he periodically found himself involved in some fairly high-profile issues.
Buchwald’s first vote as a state lawmaker on the first day of the 2013 legislative session was to support the NY SAFE Act, sweeping gun violence legislation the month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
He also came into office about two months after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the region, the start of an ongoing saga where legislators have battled the utilities for a more coherent response after weather-related emergencies. He would later help found and co-chair United Westchester, a group of local, county, state and federal officials that have formulated recommendations on how utilities can respond more effectively.
During his eight years as a state legislator, Buchwald also received attention for his successful push to have a state constitutional amendment for pension forfeiture if state officials were found guilty of a crime connected to their jobs and writing legislation enabling Congress to have access to state tax returns of top elected officials, including President Trump.
But the low-key now-former assemblyman also enjoyed the task of simply answering questions from constituents or helping them if there were difficulties with myriad issues, such as problems with their unemployment insurance.
“Unfortunately, too often in government and elsewhere it exceeds people’s expectations when they merely get a return phone call,” Buchwald said. “Truthfully, while we do return lots of e-mails and phone calls over time, I think we were able to help people and I think improve people’s lives, hopefully.”
True to form, last Wednesday, in his next-to-last day on the job, Buchwald was still in his office looking to help constituents despite knowing for the past six months that he would be out of a job following his unsuccessful congressional bid for the Democratic nomination to succeed Nita Lowey.
Buchwald said that for much of the past two months he has been working with the district’s new assemblyman, former Bedford supervisor Chris Burdick, on a smooth transition.
“I would say it was quite touching to be able to reminisce about what in eight years I’ve been able to accomplish,” he said. “I very much feel that I never let down on working to actually get things done in New York State and the Assembly District.”
As he leaves office, the obvious short- and long-term goals for state officials is to restore New York’s physical and fiscal health in light of the pandemic. It will take sound economic policy on the state’s part to weather the storm largely created by COVID-19 as well as help from Washington for state and local governments, he said.
Buchwald said he has no regrets about running for the Democratic nomination in the 17th Congressional District. For a brief time, in late 2019 after he announced his candidacy, he was perceived to be a frontrunner based on local Democratic committee endorsements, at least in the Westchester side of the district.
But similar to how quickly a situation can change, 2020 was a wildly unpredictable year and that certainly held true on the political stage.
“I thankfully can look back on the congressional run and say there’s no one thing I could have done that would have led to a different outcome,” Buchwald said. “It was a wholly unpredictable year and political environment to run in. I feel like I put my best foot forward and it just wasn’t my time. Sometimes in politics, timing is everything.”
While Buchwald did not rule out another run for a political office, he said he hopes to combine his skills and experiences as an attorney and a government official along with his economic expertise to have a rewarding experience in his life’s next chapter.
Last week he was still mulling his choices, but for now his only plans are to continue living in White Plains, where he served as a councilman before being elected to the Assembly, with his wife and two children.
“I am not looking to do something just as sort of a holdover until the next political opportunity,” Buchwald said. “That would be a disservice to whomever my next employer is.”
For now, Buchwald leaves office knowing that every day he fought hard to help the residents of his district and thanked his constituents for electing him four times and putting their trust in him.
“It has been a privilege to be there for folks and actually come away from the experience with a firm belief that I made a difference,” he said.