Assembly Member Landon Dais talks upcoming primary, legislative achievements and family life in the Bronx

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Photo courtesy Dais campaign

Residents of Concourse, Claremont, Mount Eden, Morris Heights and Highbridge might soon see Assembly Member Landon Dais, 43, handing out leaflets and shaking hands with constituents at the train station — or just hanging out at the park — with the June 25 Democratic primary approaching. 

Dais, who represents the 77th Assembly District, won the Feb. 13 special election against Republican Norman McGill to fill the seat vacated by Latoya Joyner, who unexpectedly resigned on the first day of the 2024 legislative session. 

But Dais will now face a Democratic primary challenge from Leonardo Coello, who currently serves as Bronx Borough Director for the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs. The winner will represent the party in November’s general election and seek a full two-year term. The Bronx Times has reached out to the Coello campaign and is awaiting a response. 

Dais, originally from Harlem, is a former attorney who advocated for social justice in the cannabis industry and litigated labor cases. He has lived in the Bronx since 2016 with his wife — who grew up in the district he now represents — and their two sons, ages 5 and 7.

In an interview this week with the Bronx Times, Dais said he regularly ventures out in the neighborhood with his wife, kids and extended family — “not to campaign but just to be a part of the community, make it better.” And being present in the neighborhood works naturally for Dais as a candidate.

“My campaign naturally builds off that because it’s just an extension of who I am,” he said.

Rookie victory

After only about four months in office, Dais snagged a major victory: he sponsored a bill that passed as part of the state budget to criminalize deed theft, which occurs when someone takes the title to someone else’s home through forgery or fraud. Currently, deed theft itself is not a crime but a civil offense tied to the value of the property.

Dais said his colleagues praised the accomplishment, which is rare among rookie lawmakers. “I’m really proud of that,” he said. 

Although the Bronx has a relatively small number of single-family homes, Dais said that deed theft is still a big problem—especially because scams commonly target senior citizens who are longtime homeowners and often people of color. According to the Attorney General’s office, over 3,500 deed theft complaints were filed across the state between 2014 and April 2023

In passing the bill, Dais said his legal and policy background helped him advance the issue quickly. He also credited his strong relationships across levels of government, especially with Attorney General Letitia James, whom he said was “absolutely instrumental” in seeing the bill passed into the budget. 

“Teamwork really got this done,” Dais said. “I promised to protect the people of my district, and this is me keeping my promise.” 

Other priorities for Dais include preparing residents for more development in the neighborhood and pushing for more workforce development focused on green jobs. And with a housing bill finally passed — and more affordable housing likely coming to the district — “I want to make sure that residents of the community can stay in the community,” he said. 

But jobs are equally critical: “What’s the point of having housing if you don’t have a job to go to?” 

To that end, Dais is pushing an ambitious goal with a catchy slogan: 77 new businesses and 7,700 new jobs within the 77th Assembly District, which he said would come to fruition, if elected, during his next term. Dais said the borough has plenty of smart, ambitious people to achieve the goal.

“Some people might say it’s too big of a number, but I think it can be done,” Dais said.  

In his months representing one of the state’s poorest districts, he has found that day-to-day issues often matter most to constituents. 

Residents are extremely concerned about dog poop on the sidewalks, he said. His office has tackled neighborhood cleanliness, hosting clean-ups to freshen up the streets and eliminate graffiti on private property.

Another unsightly problem for the district is trash dumping. Dais said he has been encouraging residents to report it — especially because witnesses who report dumping can receive a reward of up to 50% of the fine collected from the offender. Not only is dumping a health and safety hazard, it’s also “just disrespectful to the community,” said Dais.

“I believe cleaner streets equal safer streets,” he said. 

In focusing on quality of life in the district, Dais said he has seen a positive response. 

“The community is really starting to get re-engaged” around these issues, he said. “That’s really resonating because we really have a beautiful community.”

‘Guy talk’

When Dais isn’t in Albany or out campaigning, he enjoys his time at home in the Bronx, especially hosting backyard cookouts. Spending so much time away from home is the hardest part of the job, he said — but his go-to spots in the district are always there upon his return.

One of Dais’ favorites is Pujols Barbershop on Ogden Avenue, where he said he goes for a healthy dose of “guy talk.” 

He called the High Bridge “my meditation walk,” where he said he looks out at the Bronx shoreline “wondering what it’s gonna look like in 15, 20 years.”

Dais also coaches his sons’ baseball team at Wendell T. Foster Park, and he enjoys getting fresh air at Joyce Kilmer Park across from his office.

“We have some real jewels in the district,” Dais said. 

And the Bronx overall is “changing,” he said. He pointed to South Bronx high-rise development and the forthcoming Metro-North expansion in the East Bronx as signs that the borough is widening its reach — keeping Dais focused on protecting what’s already here. 

“I see economic growth,” Dias said — but with many small businesses already thriving, “I really hope they continue to thrive and not get pushed out by greedy landlords.”

Throughout his campaign and service in the Assembly, for however long it lasts, Dais vowed to continue what he called a family legacy of giving back to the community. 

“My job is to represent everyone in the 77,” said Dais.

Reach Emily Swanson at or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes