Yesterday, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron held the “First-Ever 25th Senate District Community Convention” at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.  Squadron’s district includes most of Lower Manhattan, the East Village/Lower East Side, and an oddly-shaped stretch of the Brooklyn waterfront from the Brooklyn Bridge to Greenpoint.  (See a district map here.)

His constiuency was well-represented — Squadron staffers estimated that about 400 people attended the convention.  The goal of the convention was for community members to share ideas, “on what our state government can do to improve our communities and step up more effectively to respond to these difficult times.”

Participants split up into about 20  groups focused on various policy issues, including Parks & Open Space, Rent Regulations, and Environmental Sustainability & Alternative Energy, Pedestrian Safety, and MTA Funding.  Senator Squadron asked participants to provide specific policy recommendations, which he said would shape his policy agenda over the next year.

I personally attended the pedestrian safety group, where we had a spirited discussion about the need for livable streets, and how this goal could be accomplished through more efficient community outreach by City agencies and more enforcement of parking, traffic, and cycling laws.  When the groups reconvened for snacks at the end of the three-hour convention, word was that other groups had equally productive discussions.

Kudos to Senator Squadron for holding this convention, for inviting community members to participate in policy discussions, and for really taking the time to listen to his constituents.  Other politicians could certainly benefit from holding first-ever community conventions in their districts!