Before the primary, Town & Village endorsed Carlina Rivera for City Council, District 2, and Keith Powers for District 4 (along with a co-endorsement for fellow Democrat Marti Speranza, who is no longer in the race), because we felt they would be the most effective fighters for their respective clusters of Manhattan and the city. Two months later, we have not changed our positions and hope that voters will give their support to Powers and Rivera.
In Powers’ case, we like his background of community activism and local politics. Long before becoming a lobbyist — which opponents have delighted in attacking him for — he was working for State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, with duties including helping tenants fight off unfair challenges to their residency. He also was involved with the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, again championing renters’ rights, and Community Board 6, where he has been involved in helping maintain a balance of supporting local nightlife while also protecting neighbors’ rights to quiet enjoyment of their apartments. It’s an advisory role, but the State Liquor Authority does pay attention to it. Because Powers has been involved in civic groups for years, even his challengers couldn’t accuse him of merely doing these things to score points with voters.
As for his lobbying career, we can understand why some voters might be concerned about this, but we like that we plans to fight for more transparency in the industry.
What we are concerned about as always is the future of small businesses. Anyone who loves this city knows the perilous position mom-and-pops face every day just to maintain their existence, and we do want to see more support for the SBJSA so those businesses could know they’re guaranteed lease renewals.
Powers’ opponents Rachel Honig and Rebecca Harary have said they support some version of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act getting passed. Honig doesn’t believe automatic 10-year lease renewals are realistic but wants to see it get a hearing. Harary also supports it, although she would like to remove “questionable language” in the bill. Current Council Member Dan Garodnick believes there are questions surrounding its legality.
We’d asked, but hadn’t yet heard Powers’ views on the legislation but as it turns out, “I’m not opposed to it,” he told us this week.
Like his opponents, Powers gets that astronomical rent increases are gutting the cityscape. His concern, however, he said, is that he isn’t sure if the implementation of the SBJSA is something the city or Albany has jurisdiction over. He also said it’s worth considering, should it be enacted, if it ought to apply to every business, including chains.
“I’d like to see it get a hearing,” Powers added.
Separately, he said he would like to see the Council pass some sort of package of legislation to help businesses that meet some sort of criteria, like having been in existence for some time, acquire affordable commercial space through zoning and development.
“We always talk about affordable housing, but we never talk about affordable commercial spaces,” he said.
On issues affecting the city and the district, including, and especially tenants’ rights, both residential and commercial, we believe Powers is the right person to tackle them as the City Council member for District 4.
Town & Village would also like to acknowledge Honig and Harary for running serious campaigns with fresh perspectives in this highly competitive race. Both have a record of accomplishment in their respective fields, though ultimately we feel it’s Powers’ experience that makes him the best fit.
District 4 covers Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, Waterside, Murray Hill, East Midtown, Tudor City, Times Square, Central Park South and the Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill and Yorkville.
As for the District 2 Council seat, currently occupied by Rosie Mendez, Rivera, all along, has struck us as being the strongest candidate. With relevant experience from working for Mendez and sitting on Community Board 3, she has the most knowledge of what the job requires and what residents’ concerns are. Her priorities are affordability and tenant rights, inequity at schools and homelessness.
It’s telling that the worst things that have been said about her are that she and her husband live in housing for low-income tenants. From what we understand, however, she still has every right to live in the apartment, unless she gets elected to the Council, in which case she has said she’d move.
Probably the candidate on the ballot Rivera has the most in common with in terms of shared values is Jasmin Sanchez. However, based on all the support Rivera has received and Sanchez hasn’t, Sanchez seems to be the spoiler here.
Republican Jimmy McMillan is very good at making himself heard about the rent being too damn high, but the skills required for this position go far beyond being a loudmouth on a single issue. His outspoken admiration for the president is also likely to turn off the Democrat voters he’d need to court if he doesn’t want to get completely destroyed at the polls. The other candidates, Libertarian Donald Garrity and the Green Party’s Manny Cavaco, don’t seem to care about this race at all.
So, frankly, we don’t think we need to use any more of this column space to sell the Democratic nominee, Rivera, as the best choice, though we hope district voters will give her their support.
District 2 covers Kips Bay, Gramercy, Stuyvesant Square, the East Village, Alphabet City and the Lower East Side.
Why voter participation is important
The expectations of Bill de Blasio’s re-election as mayor are greater than Hillary Clinton’s were for president, and there is no Donald Trump on the ballot.
In 2013, voter turnout, those actually voting, represented 24 percent of the total number of registered voters. And de Blasio won by a landslide with 73 percent of those voting, which means, in actuality, 18 percent of registered voters elected him.
This year could be more unsettling for democracy.
Consider this: The highest turnout for a mayoral race since 1950 was in 1953 when, according to the city’s Board of Elections, 93 percent of registered voters turned out.
A General Election in a democracy is a privilege and right of a citizen, but 4 out of 5 persons who are eligible and registered to vote don’t care. There are 4.3 million registered voters in New York City today, and only 794,000 voted for the landslide winner de Blasio four years ago.
Town & Village urges all readers to vote, no matter the party or the candidate.