Assembly candidate Bryan Cooper believes it’s unfair Republicans are blamed for the lack of affordable housing. (Photo courtesy of Bryan Cooper)
By Sabina Mollot
In New York City, it’s generally understood that whichever Democrat candidate is on the ballot in a general election is going to win, regardless of who the Republican or third party candidate is. And Bryan Cooper, the Republican hoping to fill the Assembly seat vacated by State Senator Brian Kavanagh, knows this.
Nevertheless, he is hoping three time’s the charm. This will, after all, be the third time he’s run for the 74th District Assembly seat. Cooper, now 51, ran against Kavanagh in 2008 and again in 2014. He also ran against then-City Council Member Rosie Mendez in 2009.
While both incumbents were easily re-elected, Cooper said he’s more hopeful this time since the special election on April 24 is an open one.
He’ll be on the ballot along with Democrat Harvey Epstein who last Monday got the nomination from the Democratic County Committee. That same evening, the Manhattan Republican Party announced it was supporting Cooper.
For Frank Scala, pictured at his barber shop, priorities are tackling homelessness and helping businesses stay in place. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Frank Scala, at the age of 78, is a veteran in more than one sense of the word. Along with having served in the Italian Navy, the Sicily native has also worked as a barber for decades at his own shop, La Scala, and he also has a history of running for office in New York City.
Being a Republican hasn’t stopped him from attempting to defeat popular Democrat incumbents. He’s challenged former Assembly Member Steven Sanders, current Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman.
And now Scala, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, has set his sights on the Manhattan borough president’s office, running against Gale Brewer.
Last year, when running against Kavanagh, Scala at first said he was just doing it out of a sense of obligation to the Republican Party since no one else had stepped up. He’d begrudgingly done the same thing two years earlier to give Republicans someone from their own party to vote for, when challenging Hoylman. But Scala later changed his mind, saying he wanted to run “legit.” This time, he’s running a mostly inactive race — he isn’t fundraising and has no website.
But he was still happy to do an interview to discuss the issues he thinks are a priority for the borough and the campaign.
While some recent news stories have indicated tickets to the presidential inauguration, set to take place on Friday, have been getting scooped up rather slowly, the event is still sure to be what most Americans will be tuning into on television. For Republicans, it’s an opportunity go out to a local bar and celebrate with likeminded people, watching the president get sworn in on a big screen while raising big mugs. For Democrats too, drinking is likely to be involved, with voters drowning their sorrows any time the president says “huge” or accuses a news report of being fake.
This week, Town & Village asked around in the community to see who planned on watching the ceremony.
Asked if he’d be watching, Frank Scala, a Stuyvesant Town resident and president of the Albano Republican Club, said he would be.
He’d actually been invited to see the inauguration live, but won’t be able to make it. Reached at the Fifth Avenue barber shop he owns and operates, Scala explained he’ll be working that day and needs to stay open late.
So instead, he’ll be watching the event at home. Scala also admitted he’s a little concerned about how Trump will present himself as president on the big day. During the race, the Albano Club shifted from Manhattan GOP by not endorsing Trump or any other candidate.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and State Senator Brad Hoylman talk to voters outside Stuyvesant Town during the June congressional primary. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
While it’s understandable that the minds of voters this coming Election Day are on the race for president, there are also a couple of local races to think about, in the case of the Stuyvesant Town/Gramercy/Kips Bay area, for Congress and for New York State Assembly.
Following publishing interviews with the opponents of two longterm incumbents, the editorial staff of Town & Village has come to the following decisions for endorsements:
Maloney’s opponent, Robert Ardini, has argued that our nation’s founding fathers never intended for elected officials to remain in one office for as long as the incumbent has, which is 23 years. While he makes a legitimate argument about how tough it is for someone to break in to the world of politics against someone who’s so well-known, we do not believe this is the only reason Maloney has consistently clobbered her opponents over the years.
It’s true, of course, that in the heavily Democratic borough of Manhattan, a Democrat is always going to have the advantage, as is the individual with more name recognition. However, an official’s experience is not something that goes unnoticed by voters and it shouldn’t be dismissed as a bad thing. Despite hitting brick walls in Washington thanks to partisan gridlock, Maloney has continued to remain responsive to the concerns of voters, both large and small. She has remained true to her platform of championing women’s rights from equal pay at work to the never-ending battle of protecting a woman’s right to choose. In her district, she pushes funding for mass transit infrastructural projects (good for commuters and good for job creation) and has remained on top of the looming L-pocalypse, a major concern of constituents. Additionally, the congresswoman, an Upper East Sider, has remained a dependable advocate for tenants.
Stuyvesant Town resident Frank Scala, also the president of the Albano Republican Club, at the barber shop he owns, La Scala (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
For Stuyvesant Town resident Frank Scala, this is not his first time running for office in a race as a longshot candidate. In fact, it was just two years ago when Scala, who’s also the president of the Albano Republican Club, entered a race without even trying to win. He was completely inactive, merely giving Republican voters a chance to enter the name of someone from their own party.
This time, he’s running as a candidate for the New York State Assembly, 74th District, against Brian Kavanagh. In the last state election cycle in 2014, Scala ran against State Senator Brad Hoylman.
“Most of the time, people don’t vote for the person, they vote for the party,” said Scala, a native of Sicily, who, after over half a century living in the United States, still has the accent of his homeland intact.
For the past 40 years he’s been a barber at La Scala, a shop he owns, in an office building on Fifth Avenue. Ryant Serhant, a realtor featured on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York,” is a weekly client as are a number of others in show business, Scala said, along with more corporate types.
Overwhelming positive Yelp reviews commend his haircutting style and his providing of a “man’s man” environment, complete with racecar art on the walls and a stash of Playboys to peruse through.
Attorney Helene Jnane, who ran for City Council in 2013, had her name appear in a rogue Republican slate. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
This year’s Election Day was a quiet one with only judicial candidates running in Manhattan and many uncontested.
However, in an effort to shake up what was locally a one-party election, a Republican District Leader for the 74th Assembly District sent out letters urging republicans to vote for members of their own party, anyway.
The problem? The letter ended up causing some confusion, with at least a couple of Stuyvesant Town residents who received it believing there were actually Republican candidates running.
One copy of the letter was received by a republican voter who later contacted Town & Village to ask why those candidates could only be chosen by having their names written in on an absentee ballot.
“That seems like fraud to me,” she fumed.
The letter from Robert Fiore, a resident of East 23rd Street, had said the election presented an “interesting opportunity for Republican write-in candidates due to expected low voter turnout for Democrats. Here are our Republican Write-In candidates for the Manhattan judicial races Tuesday, November 3.”
He then listed the candidates for Supreme Court justice as: Helene Jnane, Paul Niehaus, Robert L. Morgan, Robin Weaver and Peter C. Hein. Jnane, who ran a campaign for City Council in 2013 against Dan Garodnick, was also listed as a candidate for Civil Court judge.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney chats with a voter in Stuyvesant Town. (Photo courtesy of Congress Member Maloney)
By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, three local Democrats easily held on to their positions as voters, along with re-electing Andrew Cuomo as governor, also re-elected Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh.
Maloney won with 79.85 percent of the vote, defeating former seminary student and former Pfizer employee Nicholas Di iorio, who got 20.15 percent.
Di iorio had fought tooth and nail for each vote though, having sent out near daily press releases blasting his opponent in the weeks leading up to the election on everything from her trip to China to secure a panda for New York to failure to get many bills passed in Washington. For this he labeled her ineffective.
He’d also hounded his opponent for a debate, and did eventually succeed in wearing her down. The only debate of the campaign took place at a newspaper office in Queens last Thursday, focusing on issues of interest to that part of the district.
Meanwhile, by Tuesday morning, Maloney reported doing well with voters she encountered while campaigning.
Many told her they’d be giving her their vote, though she quickly added, “I probably shouldn’t say that. Of course they’re not going to tell me if they weren’t going to vote for me.”
After casting her own vote at the 92nd Street Y, Maloney also made several stops throughout the district, including popping by Stuyvesant Town in the afternoon.
Some voters had gripes about long lines to cast their votes, although this year, without a presidential election, lines weren’t exactly spilling out of polling place doors.“It’s definitely lower (turnout) than in a presidential year, but people are coming out to vote,” said Maloney. She added that she would work on trying to keep lines shorter in the future, either by pushing for more polling sites or the creation of smaller voting districts.
She also said that if reelected, “I’ll be focused like a laser on affordable housing and making sure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not finance anything that removes affordable housing.”
Other goals included making it easier for people to buy homes, doing away with excessive bank overdraft fees and getting a bill for women’s equality passed, that has, since Maloney’s been in office, failed to do so.
Nicholas Di iorio talks to a voter in Brooklyn. (Photo courtesy of Nicholas Di iorio)
On Tuesday, Di orio was also making various campaign stops around the three-borough district, starting on the Upper East Side, where he lives not far from Maloney, Greenpoint, Brooklyn and later Queens. At around 11 a.m., he was in Manhattan, after voting at Knickerbocker Plaza on 91st Street.
He said for the most part voters he was encountering were familiar with his campaign, having read interviews with him in Town & Village and other newspapers.
When voters stopped to chat with the candidate, typically they had questions that were economy-related. This is where he felt his background working to save money for a pharmaceutical giant worked in his favor.
“It’s been a great day so far,” said Di iorio said. “A lot of the legislators in Congress talk about growing the economy but they haven’t spent time working in economics. That’s one of the differences between me and Congress Member Maloney. I’m trying to help companies and small businesses hire more employees.”
His platform was based around cutting corporate taxes to keep jobs from going overseas.
Later, when asked about the contentious nature of the race, Maloney dismissed her opponent’s steady stream of criticism as a typical Republican tactic.
“The Republicans do not fight on issues,” she said. “They try to destroy the person.”
But not all Republicans used tough guy tactics in this race — or even any tactics at all. Hoylman and Kavanagh both sailed to reelection thanks to their opponents, Stuyvesant Town resident Frank Scala, and East Villager Bryan Cooper, respectively, not running active campaigns.
Kavanagh won with 85.06 percent of the vote, while Cooper got 14.94 percent. Hoylman got 85.66 percent while Scala got 14.34 percent.
State Senate candidate Frank Scala
Scala, who’s the president of the Albano Republican Club and the owner of a Fifth Avenue barber shop, said he only ran for State Senate after being asked by the Republican County Committee. But he didn’t seek attention beyond participating in a candidate forum last week hosted by the 17th Precinct Community Council, which his opponent didn’t attend.
And this wouldn’t be the first time in recent years that local candidates have run just to have a Republican on the ballot. In Manhattan, there hasn’t been a Republican elected since the late Roy Goodman left the State Senate in 2002.
Cooper, who, like Scala, has run for office locally before, told Town & Village he had been genuinely interested in running for Assembly, but had wanted to try doing it in a “grassroots” way. He didn’t build a campaign website or attempt to get press, choosing instead to walk around the Lower East Side and the East Village, mostly, as well as Stuy Town where he said he’s noticed a “strong Republican presence.”
“People do come to our club meetings,” he said, referring to the Albano Club, in which he’s a district leader. “People feel like our interests are not being represented. We need a Republican, especially on the Lower East Side.”
Cooper, a production assistant and Navy veteran, said he’d been hearing disgust from his neighbors about corruption in Albany and Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission’s dismantling. Lack of jobs was another concern.
Assembly candidate Bryan Cooper
“We want more businesses to be here, less taxes. There’s more unemployment and the homeless situation has risen. Why is this? Businesses are leaving New York.”
He also said that following Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to end stop-and-frisk, he’s found that people no longer feel safe.
“Ever since they stopped stop-and-frisk, people are like, ‘I’m out of here,’” he said. “What’s the point of having a police force when your hands are tied? What’s the problem with stopping and asking a question or checking your bag?”
On his low-key campaign, he explained it was mainly due to money reasons, but he also wanted to see “how effective it would be,” since he is already planning a run for State Senate. “Maybe if this doesn’t work out, I’ll learn my lesson.”