Where to Vote: Polling Places for Primary Day

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

This year’s primary elections were bumped from the usual day due to falling on September 11th and its commemorative ceremonies and will be held instead on Thursday, September 13. Additionally, many of the polling places for residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village have changed due to redistricting. There are five polling sites for ST/PCV residents: 272 First Avenue, 360 First Avenue, 283 Avenue C, 525 East 14th Street and the Asser Levy Recreation Center at 501 East 23rd Street. Residents can find their polling place for the election in the list below, which was compiled by the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

 

272 First Avenue:

405, 435, 447, 449, 451, 453, 455 East 14th Street; 240, 250, 270 First Avenue; 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 15, 17 Stuyvesant Oval

 

360 First Avenue:

400, 410, 420, 430, 431, 440, 441, 442, 444, 446, 448, 450 East 20th Street; 272, 274, 276, 278, 280, 300, 310, 330, 350, 360, 370, 390 First Ave.; 2, 3 Peter Cooper Road

 

283 Avenue C:

245, 271 Avenue C; 605, 615, 625, 635, 645, 647, 649, 651, 653, 655 East 14th Street

 

525 East 14th Street:

2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 19, 21 Stuyvesant Oval; 445, 505, 515, 521, 523, 525, 535, 545 East 14th Street

 

501 East 23rd Street (Asser Levy Recreation Center):

4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Peter Cooper Road; 440, 510, 530 East 23rd Street; 511, 531, 541, 601 East 20th Street

Public school teacher running for Duane’s seat

Tanika Inlaw

Primary Day is Thursday, September 13. Town & Village is running bios of Democrat candidates for the positions of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge and the State Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Duane.

This article was originally published on July 12

.

By Sabina Mollot

For potential candidates for the State Senate seat now occupied by Tom Duane, it may be hard to believe that it was only just over a month ago when the longtime lawmaker announced his intentions not to seek reelection. After all, for them, there’s been something of a mad dash to collect enough petition signatures to ensure their names on the ballot for the September primary. The deadline is this Thursday.

As of Monday, no candidates had yet submitted their petitions to the Board of Elections. However, there are now at least three Democratic candidates who’ve said they definitely plan to run in the September primary:

The first is Brad Hoylman, a nonprofit attorney and friend of Duane who received his support the day Duane made his announcement. The others are Hell’s Kitchen bar owner Thomas Greco and Upper West Sider Tanika Inlaw, a public school teacher.

Town & Village previously interviewed Hoylman and Greco, and this week, Inlaw spoke with this newspaper about her campaign and her agenda, which focuses on affordable housing, education and job creation.

Already, Inlaw said she’s been pounding the pavement throughout the district and recently learned firsthand from residents of Stuyvesant Town about their top issues of concern, from classroom overcrowding to the stuffing of students into divided apartments.

In response, she said she thought CWCapital should be made to stop the practice of putting up pressurized walls and renting to students.

Tenants, she learned, “are upset that a lot of families are being displaced and that now all these students are coming in and making noise. We can’t have dormitories. We need to stop that.”

Inlaw also said she considers herself an advocate for LGBT rights as a result of being raised by her uncle, who’s gay, and her grandmother. She called Duane an “amazing” senator. “He’ll be a tough act to follow.”

Though her background is in journalism (she worked for several years for ABC News Radio and for the network’s TV show, “The View”), Inlaw said she “got the bug” for politics from her husband, Evan Inlaw. He had run for a City Court judge position in Yonkers in 2005, and won at the primary level, but lost the general election. Meanwhile, Inlaw was active in the campaign, talking to district residents about their problems and finding that she wanted to do more than she could do at the time. This was just to steer those individuals to the right city agency or public official.

Inlaw around that time also got involved in advocacy work, becoming president of her local chapter of the NAACP. She held that position until a few years ago, and said when she heard about the Senate seat for what will soon become the 27th District, she just decided to go for it.

“I’m a teacher at a Bronx elementary school, and I feel I’m the best candidate because I have no special interests behind me,” said Inlaw.

Though Inlaw knew Hoylman was all but officially endorsed by Duane on that first day, she said she wasn’t going to be deterred by any political “machine.”

“I’ve seen that before with just one candidate, but how can you call that democracy?” she said.

She added that as a senator, she would be an advocate for the middle class, which she feels is now shut out of the political process.

“Barack Obama is a black president, so color is not the shut-out anymore; it’s class,” she said.

“Middle income people don’t have opportunities anymore. It used to be that as long as you had a good education, you could buy a house. Now you could have a good education and have to live with your parents. And I don’t want my daughter living with me when she’s 40.”

Inlaw, who’s 38, began her career in education not long after having children. She now has a five-year-old and a seven-year-old. The idea originally was to be a stay-at-home mom, but that didn’t last too long.  “I needed a break,” she admitted, “and you don’t get any break as a stay-at-home mom.” She also noted she she’s “about to be a single mom,” since she’s in the midst of a divorce from Evan.

On matters related to education, Inlaw said if elected, she would fight to create smaller classrooms and have additional support via assistant teachers for special education classes. She also said she wanted to “bring back extra curricular and arts programs,” which are the first things cut from any school budget. “Every child should have the opportunity for a well-rounded education,” she said.

Bullying is also a focus, with Inlaw saying one way to help stop it would be to demand accountability of the schools where it happens. However, she stressed it should be done in a way that doesn’t shame the schools or administrators, since that approach too often leads to incidents of violence or other problems being swept under the rug. She also thinks it’s important to create a classroom environment that’s rigorous. “That’s what we need — to make kids more competitive.”

And Inlaw says she’s the voice of experience on that topic, being the first person in her family to graduate from college. She got her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Purchase and later her master’s in education from Hunter. She also attended a specialized high school, La Guardia, studying drama.

She also wants to see hydrofracking completely banned and focus on repairs needed to the city’s infrastructure, including bridges and tunnels. The work would create jobs and not the minimum wage sort. (She also supports raising the minimum wage.)

On issues of housing, Inlaw, who grew up in a Mitchell-Lama building, said fighting for affordable housing is a top priority.

Repealing the Urstadt Law is also a goal. Obviously, Inlaw said she knows what she’s up against in Albany with the Republican majority frequently blocking any tenant legislation. However, she said if elected, she would try to plow through the bipartisan divide by being willing to give and take at the negotiating table.

“(Right now) everything is landlocked because everyone is holding fast to their own opinions and not seeing how it is through someone else’s eyes,” she said. “We have to come together. Even if someone’s attacking me, I’ll agree with them, and that disarms them. They’ll hear me, because I hear them. People want to be heard.”

Another challenger steps up for Duane’s Senate seat

Primary Day is Thursday, September 13. Town & Village is running bios of Democrat candidates for the positions of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge and the State Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Duane.

This article was originally published on June 28.

 

Thomas Greco

By Sabina Mollot

Not long after State Senator Tom Duane announced he wasn’t seeking reelection ― and that he thought a friend, attorney Brad Hoylman, would make a good replacement ― another challenger for the Senate seat announced he too would be running. That candidate was 36-year-old Thomas Greco, owner of Hell’s Kitchen gay bar/lounge, The Ritz. Though not gay himself (he’ll be married to fiancée Tia in a week) Greco said he is a big LGBT advocate and also said if elected, his top priorities for the 27th senatorial district would be affordable housing and education.

Greco said his decision to run was made recently, pretty much right after Duane’s announcement that he wouldn’t be running. Part of the reason, he explained, was the way that particular bombshell was dropped, including the endorsement for Hoylman it led to.

“He did it at the 11th hour,” said Greco of Duane. “He did it in a way where no career politician could have the option of getting a campaign together.”

Greco, however, said he wasn’t deterred by all the publicity for Hoylman, noting that as the owner of a business, he has some startup cash for a campaign.

He opened The Ritz in 2006, though he’s also been the part-owner of a restaurant with his brother, Philip Marie, since 2001 and he also owns an LGBT bar called Posh. Prior to those ventures, the Park Ridge, New Jersey native worked as a financial consultant for A.G. Edwards.

As for his latest endeavor, already, Greco’s gotten started collecting signatures, saying he hopes to get quadruple the amount he needs to avoid any potential ballot challenges.

What’s also helped him beyond the immediate need to fundraise is that he’s active in two political clubs, as the executive vice president of the McManus Midtown Democratic Club and director of fundraising for the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club. Otherwise, Greco said he considers himself a political outsider, and it’s this that he feels makes him the right person for the job.

“Because I don’t have an alliance with this politician and I’m not worried about making that one mad,” he said. “I just care about what the district needs and I don’t care how many eggs I have to crack to get it done. I’m the kind of guy who just keeps running into walls until the walls start falling down.”

On issues facing the district, Greco said affordable housing was something he’d fight for, because he’s tired of seeing longtime residents of his own neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen, being priced out.

“I see all these massive buildings under construction and they’re all luxury high-rise,” he said. “We have to come up with a better plan, because now it’s becoming a gated neighborhood.”

Specifically, Greco said he thought there should be more tax breaks given as incentive to develop more affordable housing than the current 80/20 structure provides for. And not just dumpy-looking projects, either, but, he added, “a nice building where you give people some dignity.”

Another aspect of affordable housing would be the protection of what’s already in existence, including Stuyvesant Town.

“I feel what went on there was horrible,” he said, referring to the years of tenants being pushed out through residency challenges. “But I’m pro tenant.”

Education is another priority, with Greco saying he’s seriously been considering private school for his own children when he has them. “And why should I cough up the money for private school when I’m already paying all these taxes?” he said.

In his view, the quality of education offered would be improved through better communication between schools and parents, including allowing interested parents to know details like what’s in the lesson plans and what children are expected to know by the end of the year.

Another issue of concern, affecting the west side of the district, is the lack of a full-service hospital following the closure of St. Vincent’s.

This was one of the issues that prompted Greco’s run, because he said he wasn’t satisfied with the way the area’s elected officials responded to news of the closure.

“They kind of just let it happen,” he said. “They made speeches, but no one threw themselves in front of a bulldozer.”

Along with the area’s residents’ loss of access to healthcare, the closure caused a nosedive in business at nearby restaurants that relied on the patronage of physicians. “It was like a bomb went off,” said Greco, noting that one of the affected restaurants is Philip Marie. The Village’s restaurants, he said, have soldiered on, but one newsstand owner told him he’d lost 90 percent of his customers before ultimately deciding to close.

“It’s like they looked at the first ripple, but not the other ripples,” Greco said.

Being a restaurant owner himself, Greco said even if he does end up in Albany, he would still identify as a businessman rather than a career politician.

“At the end of the day, I’m doing this as a public service,” he said. “I’m not making a career move. I have a career. I have my business. I’m not going to make deals so someone can benefit me.”

 

* In related senatorial race news, a recent published report alluded to the fact that Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh could also run for Duane’s Senate seat. However, an employee at Kavanagh’s office said last week he definitely won’t be running.

Senate hopeful: Priorities are tenants, education issues

Brad Hoylman with voters

Primary Day is Thursday, September 13. Town & Village is running bios of Democrat candidates for the positions of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge and the State Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Duane.

This article was originally published on June 14.

 

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, following the announcement by State Senator Tom Duane that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection, several names were mentioned as being possible replacements for the representative of what is now known as the 27th senatorial district. However, only one got the blessing and encouragement of Duane himself and that was Brad Hoylman, a nonprofit attorney who the lawmaker called one of his closest friends and someone who would be “a fighter” for the district.

Naturally, it took all of 24 hours for Hoylman, who was running for Christine Quinn’s seat on the City Council, to instead officially throw his hat in the ring for the State Senate.

Hoylman, who left his work in law a few months ago to work on the Council campaign, is also the chair of Community Board 2. Like Duane, he is gay and lives in Greenwich Village with his partner, documentary maker David Sigal, and their 18-month-old daughter, Sylvia.

This week, Hoylman, who spent much of his Saturday petitioning in Stuyvesant Town, spoke to Town & Village about his platform, which he said is very much like Duane’s is that it is pro-tenant, pro-LGBT rights and very much against “irresponsible development” like the planned NYU expansion in Greenwich Village.

“I think the plan is wrong for the community which is essentially a residential neighborhood and it really threatens what makes the Village and NYU special,” he said.

While speaking with residents in Stuy Town, Hoylman said he also heard residents’ concerns about the influx of college students and said that he thought the marketing of apartments to students should stop.

“For CWCapital and Rose Associates to market the property to college students, I don’t think it’s appropriate,” he said. “I understand that they’re putting up partitions in some spaces, and I think it’s outrageous.”

If elected, he said he would work with other East Side politicians “to make sure that stops. In the East Village, we had a problem with that, and now it’s Stuyvesant Town.”

On that issue along with the planned redevelopment of NYU, Hoylman said there are ways to make even super-schools like NYU listen to the community.

“We have levers we can pull to make sure that they listen,” he said. “They have to come before community boards for approvals and to council members for other things.”

On other ST/PCV-related issues, Hoylman said he supports the Tenants Association’s proposed plan to go condo. He also said he was in support of keeping nearby co-op complex East Midtown Plaza, which is currently mired in a war over privatization, in the Mitchell-Lama program.

As a parent, Hoylman also said he was “very dismayed at the attitude of the current administration towards parents and teachers. I want to work to change the system where teachers are demonized and parents don’t have a voice.”

Another issue would be to try and get a bill passed, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Squadron, that would give protections to transgendered people in the workplace.

Politically, Hoylman said he considers Duane a role model, noting his success as getting legislation passed, even while in the minority party, for tenant protections, marriage equality and against hate crime.

As for the fact that the State Senate’s been the place where rent laws typically go only to be shot down by Albany Republicans, Hoylman echoed a sentiment frequently mentioned by Duane, about the need for campaign finance reform as the best way to deal with pols catering to special interests.

In his role as community board chair, Hoylman said he’s been active in matters involving historic preservation and landlord-tenant issues. In one recent deal that CB2 had a hand in, developers of the old St. Vincent’s site agreed to provide a $1 million legal defense fund for tenants and another $1M for arts programs for local schools.

As an attorney, Hoylman began his career in a private practice, and later worked on housing issues in the nonprofit sector, most recently for the Partnership for NYC.

As a political candidate, his work so far has only been to start the lengthy process of gathering enough signatures to not get booted off the ballot by an opponent. He needs 1,000 to run.

The 27th senatorial district covers part of the East Village, ST/PCV, Waterside, Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Hell’s Kitchen.

Manhattan Surrogate candidate: I’d make court more user-friendly

Primary Day is Thursday, September 13. Town & Village is running bios of Democrat candidates for the positions of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge and the State Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Duane.

This article was originally published on September 6.

Judge Barbara Jaffe

By Sabina Mollot

Recently, Town & Village spoke with a candidate for one of two Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge positions, the Civil Court’s Judge Rita Mella, a Stuyvesant Town resident.

Along with Mella, who’s said if elected she would make the Surrogate’s Court — which sooner or later everyone has to go through for matters relating to wills, estates and guardianship — more user friendly, an East Midtown resident and State Supreme Court judge dealing with matrimonial cases, Barbara Jaffe, is running on a similar platform.

“This court itself is very important because anybody can end up in Surrogate’s Court,” she said. “That’s why New Yorkers should be interested (in this race). Everyone loses family friends who pass away and the litigants are not there voluntarily. They don’t just show up to sue somebody. They’re fighting over an estate.”

The two Democrats will face off in a September 13 primary. So far no Republicans have announced candidacy for the position, which would represent a district covering Manhattan and Roosevelt Island over a 14-year term. However, if Jaffe, who’s 60, is elected, she noted that for her it would only be a 10-year term due to a required retirement age of 70. The current Manhattan surrogate, Kristin Booth Glen, will be leaving the bench this year for that reason as well.

So far, Jaffe’s earned the lion’s share of endorsements from other judges while Mella has earned the backing of politicians including Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez.

However, Jaffe said she believes she’s the right judge for the job based on her judicial background and business background. She’s mainly a matrimonial judge while her opponent is assigned to the Criminal Court.

“I believe I can make the most significant contribution to this important court,” said Jaffe. “I handle custody cases and I handle a lot of very divisive family issues. I also have to deal with financial issues, which crop up a lot.”

She also gets the occasional housing case, like primary residence challenges, and NYCHA is often involved.

Most of her cases, however, end up being settled, a good 98 percent of the financially related ones in fact. It isn’t that she’s “trial-shy,” as she put it, but Jaffe said she does try to get cases concluded quickly.

“I don’t shoot from the hip, (but) I work smart and I work fast,” said Jaffe.

In many of the cases, she pointed out, there are no attorneys, and this makes it all the more important for the system to be understandable.

As for how to make that happen, Jaffe said she has a few ideas.

“One is something I’m already doing,” she said, referring to a handbook she created on the criminal justice system that’s been translated into several languages. “It’s still distributed. It costs no money,” she said, adding that she would like to create similar how-to type literature for the Surrogate’s Court. As she got it done the last time, Jaffe said she would get the handbook produced with the help of volunteer law school graduates who must do 50 hours of pro bono services. The court would then pay the printing costs. Jaffe also said she would like to create literature to help people use computers that are available for public use at the court.

The candidate added that she has also done outreach on the workings of the court in other ways.

While serving as the president of the Association of Small Claims Arbitrators in the mid-1990s, Jaffe would go to places like churches and synagogues as well as community board meetings and do presentations on court proceedings, like how to file a small claims suit.

While doing this she also worked as an attorney in the State Supreme Court and then as a law clerk for Justice Marcy L Kahn. In 2002, she began serving as a judge in the Civil Court of New York City and in 2010, as a justice specially assigned to matrimonial trials in the State Supreme Court.

As for the fact that if voted in to the Surrogate’s Court, she’d have a somewhat shortened term, Jaffe said this actually works in the public’s benefit since as someone who wouldn’t have to worry about reelection, “I don’t have to curry favor with anyone to run again.”

Jaffe, who began her career in law in 1986 as an associate counsel for the Legal Aid Society, said she always wanted to work in that field. However, law is actually her second career. After graduating from Brooklyn Law School, she worked in the antique industry, running Madison Galleries, a wholesale antiques and arts business. Ironically, her eight years there would help her later on the bench, when dealing with estate cases that involve antique collections. She also has given presentations and written many articles on art and law “and how to prove what things are worth” in legal publications.

Jaffe has been a resident of Manhattan since 1975 and has lived in the East Midtown area since 1994.

Stuy Town resident running for Surrogate Court judge position

Rita Mella, with her husband, talks with a neighbor in Peter Cooper Village.

Primary Day is Thursday, September 13. Town & Village is running bios of Democrat candidates for the positions of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge and the State Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Duane.

This article was originally published on August 23.

 

By Sabina Mollot

While this summer, much of the focus of the local political world has been on the race to fill the State Senate seat that will be vacated by Tom Duane at the end of the year, another race has quietly been running for the position of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge.

Along with State Supreme Court Judge Barbara Jaffe, another hopeful for the position is Judge Rita Mella of Manhattan Criminal Court, who’s also a longtime resident of Stuyvesant Town. Like Jaffe, Mella is a Democrat, and the two will face off in the September 13 Primary.

During a recent chat on a bench in Peter Cooper, Mella spoke with Town & Village about how the court system is more a part of people’s lives than they think “even if you’re not in trouble with the law,” and that if elected, she’d do outreach to make Surrogate’s Court more accessible and inclusive.

“Most New Yorkers have never set foot in this beautiful building on Chambers Street,” Mella said. “This is a court that works as an agency. You need to go there if you want to adopt a child or if you need guardianship of a mentally disabled young adult. You need to go there for your probate. You could stay out of court if you have no assets, but if you do, you have to go to court to administer your assets. This is a court of administration rather than litigation.”

Mella, who was born in the Dominican Republic, said she’s always wanted to do public work. She came to the United States at 22, barely knowing how to speak English, and studied and graduated from the CUNY Law School in 1991. On a scholarship, she got her master’s in Latin American history from the University of Florida and her undergraduate degree in the Dominican Republic.

After completing her education, she began her career in law working for a small firm with a focus on criminal defense and for the next 13 years, worked as an attorney in several courts: Surrogate’s, Supreme Court, Civil Court, Family Court and Criminal Court, according to her official bio.

For Mella, the switch to Surrogate’s Court from the Criminal Court, where she’s been assigned since 2007, would be a return to her roots. Previously, she worked as principal law clerk for Surrogate’s Court Judge Margarita Lopez Torres in Brooklyn. Lopez Torres, who Mella calls a reformer, had come in following a period of corruption in the court and it was part of Mella’s job to help her implement “systems of accountability” and make the operations more transparent.

In her current role, Mella chairs the Gender Fairness Committee of the Manhattan Criminal Court, which has organized programs aimed at addressing issues such as sex trafficking of young women, domestic violence among teenagers and relations between the Criminal Courts and the transgender population.

The judge position Mella is running for now would represent all of Manhattan as well as Roosevelt Island and the term would be for 14 years.

Reflecting on the length of the term, which is unusually long by political standards, Mella seemed undaunted.

“Serving the public from a bench is such an honor you don’t ever want to leave it,” she said.

Mella has lived in Stuyvesant Town since 1999 with husband Robert Rosenthal.