New York City Focus: Updated Endorsements for November 3rd's Election
Mayor: Bill Thompson (Democratic Party)
One of the best things I have heard said about Bill Thompson was meant to disparage his chances: Bill Thompson was accused of "being too much of a gentleman" to win against Bloomberg. Honestly, that comment made me like Thompson more. Thompson is a good, solid Democrat and I think it is about time this very Democratic city stop having dictatorial, pro-business, anti-labor mayors. Mayor Bloomberg isn't bad...for a Republican. But he IS a Republican not just in name but in actions. His education policy has been little more than privatizing our educational system. This has made it a money maker for outside contractors who deal with the increasingly arduous and Byzantine testing and admissions processes, but it doesn't really help parents or students. If students don't do well enough, too often they get dropped from the system so the tests won't be affected. Admissions have become insane and yet have done little to equalize the discrepancies between neighborhoods because only the wealthy have the time and money for the admissions process, the interviews, extra tutoring for tests, etc. And the big results that Bloomberg claims vindicates his "reforms?" They can be seen statewide, even in areas where Bloomberg has had no influence. So how can he lay claim to the changes? Bloomberg has also closed firehouses, yet given tax money to developers. Bloomberg pissed on voters when he bullied the City Council into overturning term limits ONE TIME ONLY, specifically so Bloomberg could have a third term. I have never understood the cult of Bloomberg that many follow. Once he called my wife and me "terrorists" because we protested the Republican National Convention and once I learned that Bloomberg was the number one individual donor to Tom DeLay's ant-choice, anti-environment, right wing PAC, I have disliked him.
So Thompson is too much of a gentleman to win against Bloomberg, thus, I suppose, admitting that Bloomberg is an asshole. Well, I for one hope the gentleman who has consistently been a solid Democrat wins. I hope Thompson, who is pro-labor, can win over anti-labor Bloomberg. Recently Bill Thompson has been endorsed by El Diario. Bill Thompson has also been endorsed by one of my favorite Congresswomen, Nydia M. Velazquez. He has been endorsed by State Senator Eric Adams, Councilmember Letitia James, Councilmember John Liu, Councilmember David Weprin, State Senator Diane Savino, and Congressman Anthony Weiner, all of whom I respect (even if I don't always agree with all of them). Thompson has been endorsed by 504 Democrats, NYC's main disabled rights group, Barack Obama Democratic Club, American Heritage Democratic Club, Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats, Out People of Color Political Action Club, East Harlem/El Barrio Democratic Club, Gramercy-Stuyvesant Independent Democrats, Village Independent Democrats and West Harlem Independent Democrats. Thompson has been endorsed by Communications Workers of America, United Auto Workers, Uniformed Firefighters Association, Transport Workers Union and the Teamsters. And, of course, many others. To me Thompson represents a good, old fashioned Democrat supported by a good, old fashioned pro-union, pro-LGBT, pro-minority coalition. I would support that any day over a spoiled, dictatorial billionaire.
Comptroller: John Liu (Democratic Party)
John Liu is ideal for this job. With a degree in mathematical physics, extensive financial experience, City Council and community organizing experience, and overwhelming support of Unions, LGBT groups and local clubs from all Boros, John Liu is one of the best candidates we have seen this year. He will also be the first Asian American EVER to be elected to city wide office in NYC, so he is not only a good choice for the job but it will also be historic when he wins.
22nd City Council district: Lynne Serpe (Green Party). Having already endorsed Green Party candidate David Pechefsky (see below under 39th City Council district) I came across another good Green candidate running against a lousy Dem. Lynne Serpe is the Green Party candidate looking to oust Peter Vallone (a conservative DINO incumbent who voted for Bloomberg's overturning of term limits). And the big surprise is that Lynne Serpe has actually out raised Vallone, making her challenge one to be taken seriously. From the City Hall News:
Vallone, who holds the same Queens seat his father held for almost three decades, had only $40,000 on hand a few weeks before election day, and decided to forego matching funds, figuring that they were a waste of taxpayer money.
But that was before Lynne Serpe, a 38-year-old environmental activist and Green Party candidate for the seat announced that she had $100,000 on hand and qualified for over $70,000 in matching funds.
“There are people in the district who have wanted resources that they haven’t gotten in 35 years,” she said. “I think people are ready for a change...”
“My goal is to win,” she said, explaining that she was buoyed by the surprise primary wins of other left leaning candidates like Danny Dromm. “It’s possible that we’re looking at an entire shift in Western Queens.”
To see the end of the conservative Democrat Vallone dynasty in favor of a more progressive candidate will be sweet. I wish Vallone had been challenged by a good Democrat, but lacking that, I'll take a Green.
34th City Council District: Diana Reyna (Democratic Party). The first woman of Dominican-American descent to be elected to NYC public office, Reyna is being heavily targeted by corrupt Brooklyn Boss Vito Lopez and his scandal-ridden ally, WFP, because she hasn't gone along with Vito Lopez's corruption. In essence, she is being punished for her independence, and I personally want to see more independence in our City Council members. This is another race where we can stop a power play by a corrupt party boss. The Village Voice had this to say about this race during the Democratic Primary:
In the adjoining 34th District, which encompasses a swath of Williamsburg and Bushwick, Lopez is pushing the candidacy of a young woman named Maritza Davila, currently a project director at Ridgewood Bushwick. Lopez is such a Davila fan that he allocated $45,000 in funding for her job there. The money, according to Lopez's legislative initiative form, pays for Davila to take residents to museums, aquariums, and sporting events. She also does double duty: In addition to her day job, Davila serves as a Democratic district leader in Lopez's political club.
Bushwick is Lopez's home base. OK, not his actual residential home. He lives blissfully with Battaglia far from his district in a Queens condo. His political home. He has long controlled the local Council seat, but sometimes, his protégés disappoint him and he is forced to seek their removal. For instance, the incumbent Council member in the district is Diana Reyna, whose training came—where else?—from being a Lopez aide.
Reyna, however, ran afoul of her mentor when she dared to disagree about a large tract of undeveloped land known as the Broadway Triangle. Thanks to his great clout with city and state officials, Lopez arranged to have all of the housing development opportunities there routed to Ridgewood Bushwick and a kindred group, the United Jewish Organizations, which controls social service funds in the Orthodox section of Williamsburg and whose executives happily carry Lopez's election petitions. Lopez has long been a big booster of Mayor Bloomberg, and his influence is such that the city didn't even bother holding its usual competition among would-be developers. It simply
designated Lopez's chosen groups...
Reyna's opponent lost her primary bid but is still actively running on the Working Families Party line. So we still have to stand up to Vito Lopez on this one. Diana Reyna has been endorsed by Councilwoman Tish James and Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez (both of whom I greatly respect), El Diario/La Presnsa, Lambda Independend Democrats, 504 Democrats (disabled rights), the Teamsters, United Federation of Teachers and others.
36th City Council District (Brooklyn): Mark Winston Griffith (Working Families Party Candidate)
I have now met Mark Winston Griffith and am more impressed now than when I was just going on good reports from mutual friends. Mark is and excellent candidate and would make an excellent Councilman.
Many people know (and can tell by my comments regarding the 34th City Council Race) that I am disgusted by the fact that WFP has been breaking campaign finance laws and has sided with corrupt party boss Vito Lopez this year. To me, WFP was once a great idea that has been descending into the same kind of corruption that they claim to fight. They love to accuse others of being party hacks, but that is exactly what they have become themselves: party hacks surrounded by scandal. But, there are still remnants of the old style, more idealistsic WFP, and among the corrupt and sleazy WFP candidates this year there were some great ones. This includes Debi Rose on Staten Island, John Liu for Comptroller...and Mark Winston Griffith for the 36th City Council seat in Brooklyn. If Griffith wins, he will be the second WFP candidate to win for City Council without the Democratic Party line. Since that first example is Councilmember Tish James, someone I admire and agree with most of the time, and who has become one of the best Democrats in the Council, I believe that for a good progressive, untainted by the current WFP scandals, the WFP line is a good way to get into office.
The incumbent for this seat is Al Vann who is among the least popular incumbents I have ever seen. In fact, I suspect had there only been one opponent in the Democratic Primary, Vann would be history now. But the opposition split the vote and Vann squeaked by the primary with barely 30% of the vote. The man who came in second was Mark Winston Griffith and he has decided to continue the fight on the WFP line. Mark has been Executive Director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and co-director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project and has been a community organizer for years. Mark has been endorsed by the United Auto Workers, Educational Justice PAC and Committee for the Future Leadership of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. I firmly believe that the 36th district would be better served by Mark Winston Griffith than by Al Vann. So I urge a vote on the (I hate to say it) Working Families Party line for Mark Winston Griffith in the 36th City Council district.
39th City Council District (Brooklyn): David Pechefsky (Green Party Candidate)
Most people also know I have seldom sided with the Greens since the 2000 fiasco. Too often the Greens are counterproductive as well as obnoxious purists. But sometimes the Green Party really is an alternative to a Democrat I just can't bring myself to support. This is, I believe, the second time since 2000 that I have endorsed a Green Party candidate. I first heard about David Pechefsky from two of my neighbors. They knew him personally and, though Democrats, were interested in supporting him. At the time I was supporting a Democrat in the running (Josh Skaller) and thought two of the other Democrats (Gary Reilly and Bob Zuckerman) were also good candidates, so I took a dim view of Pechefsky's run given the fact that no fewer than THREE excellent Democrats were vying for the position. Well, none of those three excellent Democrats won. I met Pechefsky and talked with him. He agreed that the candidate I was supporting would be excellent but I gathered he was running in case one of the not so good Democrats won the primary. Which is what happened. The Democrat who won the primary, Brad Lander, is allied with Dov Hikind (a known homophobe and racist), has been publicly anti-Israel, and who has been centrally involved in the WFP campaign funding scandal I mention above. Any one of these would be a reason not to support Lander. Brad Lander is one of those Democrats I feel I can never completely trust even if we agree on most things. He is too blinded by his own sense of self-worth and his own ambition to ever listen to an opposing view. Too often I have seen him face disagreement with disdain or rage. By contrast David Pechefsky is even-tempered, thoughtful and willing to listen to opposing views. Pechefsky seeks to be "a catalyst for a truly democratic City Council, eco-friendly living, and the sensible use of our resources." Unlike many Green Party candidates I have met, Pechefsky has a wide range of practical experience to bring to the City Council. According to his website:
David Pechefsky has 12 years of New York City government experience and has worked with Council Members, advocates, city officials, and service providers on a wide range of housing, youth, senior, health, and economic development programs. He has also consulted internationally working on democratic governance issues in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East...
David is a member of the Park Slope Greens and the Park Slope Food Coop and was recently appointed to the Economic Development Committee of Community Board Six.
I think Pechefsky would represent the district excellently while Brad would too often let personal ambition and ego get in the way of effective governing...and would probably break the law to further his career if he thought he could get away with it. This impression has recently been re-enforced when I learned Brad Lander was sitting next to Rudy Giuliani at an event honoring Mike Bloomberg where Giuliani and Bloomberg made racist innuendos against Thompson. And as far as I know, Brad said nothing against this. So I endorse Green Party candidate David Pechefsky for the 39th City Council district.