Editorial: Candidates get on the tenant soapbox

Last Wednesday night, candidates demonstrated their interest in the tenant vote by showing up at a forum held by the ST-PCV Tenants Association. Asked about issues such as a possible tenant-led purchase of the property, the Rent Guidelines Board and major capital improvements, the candidates were given the opportunity to shine in the eyes of renters. But in the end, the biggest statement of the evening seemed to be a fashion one — who could miss those bright orange pants worn by would-be comeback kid Anthony Weiner? Or his explanation about how they were actually intended for a gay audience he’d addressed earlier.

As for what the candidates would do, if elected, to help residents, all gave the expected lip service that they would be much more active in fighting those battles than the current mayor is. But unfortunately, statements like that don’t actually say that much. As noted by Council Member Dan Garodnick during the forum, Bloomberg had shied away from any involvement during the historic sale in 2006 of Stuy Town to Tishman Speyer. And then, over the next few years, when things went south for tenants as well as the owner, there was still no interference. So really, by just showing their faces to residents at a single forum, the candidates have already been more of a presence in the ST/PCV community than Bloomberg.

In a more promising note, a few of the candidates (Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio) seemed to understand the need for reform of the RGB.

Not everyone was impressed though.

As attendee Kay Vota later relayed to Town & Village, the candidates “just said what everyone wanted to hear.

“I’ve been to three mayoral forums, and at every one I went to they say what they think the people want to hear and I think that’s pandering to the audience,” said Vota. “The question is are we having any real discussion of the issues? There are some really serious issues in the city.”

While she declined to get into who she’s supporting at this point, Vota, a longtime Stuy Town resident, does know who she doesn’t want to see get elected.

Commenting on Weiner’s statement about his outfit choice, Vota said, “I thought it was a double slam. It was insulting to say he dressed for gay people but he wasn’t dressed appropriately for us. If that’s what he was wearing, he should’ve been comfortable anywhere. I don’t think it showed common sense, but I guess he thought it was cute. But of course he’s the guy who put a picture of his package on the internet.”

In other forum-related news, the TA also hosted the candidates running for public advocate, since someone in this position could end up as mayor if something happens that prevents the mayor from serving.

Noticeably absent from the event was public advocate hopeful and former Wall Streeter Reshma Saujani, who some residents may remember from a very heated campaign for Congress against Carolyn Maloney in 2010.

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