Dan Donovan, 53, the Republican candidate for New York Attorney General, may have an Irish last name, but according to his 84-year-old mother, he looks Polish and his gray eyes and pale complexion are proof of his ancestry. Mrs. Donovan’s maiden name is ‘Bolewicz’ and she is the third generation in a Polish-American family that settled on Staten Island. Today there is a growing Polish-American community in the borough and Donovan wants its support in November.
“I think the Polish community would be proud to have a person in the attorney general’s office who has common blood with them,” said Donovan during a sit down interview with the Polish Daily News last week. But that’s not the only reason, he said.
“I don’t think people should vote for me just because I’m Polish. I think…people from all over ought to vote for me because of my experience and background and independence.”
In the 2000 Census, 18,405 Staten Island residents claimed Polish ancestry. In all of New York State there were almost 1 million. On the campaign trail Donovan has met with representatives of the Polish community in the Buffalo area and recently attended the Pulaski Parade, an annual Polish event held on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue.
Donovan has been reaching out to local immigrant communities since 2004 when he became district attorney of Richmond County (Staten Island). Soon after taking over that office he hired staff members who spoke several languages and made a pledge not to ask immigrants about their immigration status if they were victims of a crime or witnessed one, a promise he intends to keep if elected AG in November.
“No one should be exploited, no one should be a victim of a crime, regardless of their status in the United States,” Donovan stressed.
Like his Democratic opponent Eric Schneiderman, he supports comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
This story was produced by Feet in 2 Worlds, a project at The New School's Center for New York City Affairs. Feet in Two Worlds' New York election coverage is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.