Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is seeking a second term against three unknown candidates and being the Democrat incumbent, we’re sure she’ll clobber them. However, the fact is that it doesn’t matter who wins this race since the position is useless. The purpose is to be a cheerleader for one’s borough, appointing members to community boards and, if one is ambitious, coming up with ideas that hopefully City Council members will pick up.
Last year in T&V’s “Politics & Tidbits” column, former Assembly Steven Sanders called the office that borough presidents hold, as well as the office that evolved into the public advocate “throwbacks to an earlier age in the last century when they were relevant.” Now, he pointed out, “It has become mostly a springboard to run for mayor or comptroller, where the actual power resides. The current mayor and current comptroller are prime examples of that.”
We like Brewer and that she’s so passionate about Manhattan’s mom-and-pops. But her position kind of handcuffs her from doing anything about this worsening crisis. She recently conducted a study of vacant storefronts and the results were not exactly shocking: Retail blight is getting worse. Her office didn’t respond when we asked what the next steps were on acting on this knowledge, and we’re guessing this is because there aren’t any. Brewer, previously an effective City Council member, should run for another position where she can actually make a difference.
Also on the ballot is Stuyvesant Town small business owner and community activist Frank Scala. A good man we respect but we don’t know how he’d magically affect real change with such limited power, either.
If you want to vote against wasting taxpayer money pick a candidate named Brian Waddell. This candidate, on the Reform and Libertarian lines, is running with the idea of eliminating the office completely on his first day if elected. In an amusing Q&A Waddell conducts with himself on his website, the candidate asks: “Is the rent too damn high? Yes, but there is nothing a borough president can do about it, so let’s get rid of them.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and State Senator Brad Hoylman talk to voters outside Stuyvesant Town. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, 23-year incumbent Carolyn Maloney easily won the Congressional Primary with over 89 percent of the vote.
Maloney’s Democratic opponent, Peter Lindner, got 9.55 percent of the vote or 1,435 votes with 1.32 percent of the voters, a total of 198, opting for write-in candidates. Maloney got exactly 89.13 or 13,389 votes.
The numbers came from the Board of Elections’ unofficial results made available from 99 percent of the scanners. In the 12th Congressional District, which includes much of Manhattan’s East Side and parts of Queens and Brooklyn, 15,022 registered Democrats came out to vote on what Maloney and poll workers Town & Village spoke with said seemed to be a typically low primary turnout.
Walking around Stuyvesant Town on Tuesday afternoon, T&V’s reporter only ran into people who said they’d be casting their vote for Maloney or wouldn’t say who they were voting for. One person though said he thought Lindner seemed promising.
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.”
By Mark P. Thompson, president of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club
In the past Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were known as one of the state’s most important voting blocs. Where else could a candidate stand on a street corner for a few hours and greet thousands of people who knew about all the issues of the day and were definitely voting? Big turnouts – even in ho-hum races – forced politicians to pay attention to our needs, coming to us for support and making sure that our opinions were taken into account. Our City Council member and state representatives had a special respect for us, as did others; they all knew that the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper “squeaky wheel” voting bloc needed to be respected.
But what has happened? The number of voters here has declined, partially due to the changing demographic of our local population, partially due to the apathy that has struck voters everywhere. But why is it so critical that all of us vote in this election – and that we vote on the Democratic line rather than one of the splinter party lines? It’s because our homes are threatened; the ability to afford growing rents is being slashed away by an aggressive landlord’s MCIs and other fees, and various public agencies allow it all to happen. It’s because the predators are circling overhead, hoping to buy and alter the community forever. It’s because if we don’t vote and show that we are a unified force to be reckoned with, the city, state and feds will write us off as just another disinterested bunch of people who can always rattle some chains but don’t vote and therefore doesn’t deserve more attention than some needier people in another borough.
But what is really at stake here? No, it’s not just reelecting someone to office and voting against some redistricting proposition hidden on the flip side of the ballot. It’s about sending a firm message to our elected representatives – and others who should also be listening to us – that we demand they protect our homes, keep our streets safe, encourage businesses to open and stay open, help our seniors with supportive programs, and improve our schools.
The best way we can protect our interests is to show that people in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are important and care by voting. When voting, you will have a choice among several parties on the ballot. It’s important to vote in the Democratic column. This gives the leadership of New York’s leading party proof that we demand its attention; since candidates have always been elected through the Democratic line it’s important to throw our weight there rather than with one of the splinter groups that won’t have any elected candidates.
Beyond the actual decision of which candidate wins, the vote totals are used to calculate a ariety of other functions. Over the years, as voter turnout has declined and votes were siphoned off to other parties, our neighborhood has gradually lost its voice to other communities. With a bigger Democratic backing, our elected representatives, including our Democrat City Council Member Dan Garodnick (former president of the Tilden Democrat Club), will have the ability to use a strong showing to fight for us, and our other elected officials (all Democrats) will need to take more notice of us.
How can we as a community remain relevant and regain our stature, so that our government actually works for us instead of ignoring us? We must vote on Tuesday. We must encourage our friends and neighbors – especially those who claim it’s not important – to vote for our Democratic candidates in the Democratic column. It’s our best chance at protecting our community.
Today is Election Day, and along with voting for the next U.S. president and veep, community residents will also have the opportunity to vote for their rep in Congress, the State Senate and the Assembly, as well as Manhattan’s Surrogate’s Court.
For residents in the Stuyvesant Town/Waterside/Gramercy area, the choices are, for Congress, the longtime incumbent Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat, or Christopher Wight, a Republican.
For State Senate, Democrat Brad Hoylman, who won the primary, is running unchallenged after an opponent stepped down.
For Assembly, Democrat and incumbent Brian Kavanagh is also running unchallenged after beating Juan Pagan in the primary.
Judge Rita Mella, a Democrat living in Stuyvesant Town, won the primary for Manhattan Surrogate, and is also running unchallenged in the general election.
As for where all the Republicans went, party insiders this fall seemed to agree there wasn’t any point in trying to win in this district.
Council Member Dan Garodnick, who is running for city comptroller (in 2013) has said he has inspected all seven Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village polling places and found that there was no damage to the voting rooms. Additionally, they all have power and will be used today.
However, he noted in an email to residents yesterday, “There is no heat at any of the locations, and it remains to be seen whether the Board of Elections will take additional steps to warm them up.”
Additionally, due to a lack of power at Waterside Plaza, residents of Waterside will be voting at the Asser Levy Recreation Center along with many Peter Cooper residents. So, the councilman warned, voters should be prepared for longer lines than usual.
ST/PCV poll sites:
360 First Avenue
Asser Levy Recreation Center
525 East 14th Street
3 Stuyvesant Oval
272 First Avenue
10 Stuyvesant Oval
283 Avenue C
Residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy are allowed to vote at any polling place, Borough President Scott Stringer announced yesterday.