Assembly candidates talk traffic, construction and MCIs at forum

Assembly candidates Mike Corbett, Harvey Epstein and Sandro Sherrod at a forum held by local Democratic clubs on Saturday (Photo by Bert Ongkeo)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Candidates for the 74th Assembly District seat met for a forum hosted by the Tilden Democratic Club and the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club last Saturday evening at the Seafarer’s International House. The forum had been postponed from earlier in the month due to the snowstorm, although the Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats, which originally planned the event with the two other clubs, ultimately braved the weather and held its forum that day.

Sandro Sherrod, a technology director at NYU Langone, Harvey Epstein, a project director with the Urban Justice Center, and Mike Corbett, an aide to City Council Member Costa Constantinides, all agreed that they didn’t disagree on much but shared their specific positions on issues such as affordability, the MTA, education and other topics.

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Former CB6 chair enters Assembly race

Sandro Sherrod (Photo by Bert Ongkeo)

By Sabina Mollot

In a race that so far has no set Election Day, three candidates have already announced their hopes of replacing Brian Kavanagh in the New York Assembly, 74th District.

The most recent one to make his candidacy official is former Community Board 6 chair Sandro Sherrod, a resident of Stuyvesant Town.

Sherrod, 41, works at NYU Langone Center with the title of director of collaborative infrastructure and audio-visual strategy. (As he explains it, he’s responsible for integrative technology and how it gets used.) He’s been at the East Side hospital for the past 17 years and has a record of community activism that’s almost as long. He’s been the president of the Tilden Democratic Club, where he is now a district leader. He’s been the corresponding secretary of the 13th Precinct Community Council and he’s served on the board of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association. He is now a board member of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association and is still involved with CB6, which he chaired from 2012-2015. He also chaired the board’s health committee and was vice chair of the parks committee.

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Peter Cooper Council candidate has 3 club endorsements, nearly $200G in war chest

Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

Keith Powers, a candidate for City Council in District 4, announced on Tuesday that he’d gotten support from three Democratic clubs on the East Side of Manhattan. The Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club, Four Freedoms Democratic Club and Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club (where Powers is a district leader), voted to endorse Powers, a resident of Peter Cooper Village, last week.

In addition, a spokesperson for the campaign said Powers has amassed close to $200,000 in campaign cash.

The rep said Powers has maxed out on his matching funds at $100,100 and has raised $98,000 in private funds. With the two amounts combined, Powers has hit the $182,000 City Council spending cap.

“With our endorsement, we see Keith as the most qualified candidate who has what it takes to protect our party’s values with new and innovative solutions for the unique needs of our community,” said Greg Martello, president of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club.

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T&V asks: Will you watch inauguration?

By Sabina Mollot

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.

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Gramercy Park community activist Audrey Sisson Kasha dies at 88

A public memorial service will be held for Audrey Sisson Kasha on Thursday, June 30.

A public memorial service will be held for Audrey Sisson Kasha on Thursday, June 30.

By Sabina Mollot

Gramercy Park resident Audrey Sisson Kasha, 88, died on June 12, a month after suffering a severe stroke.

Kasha was for many years involved in her community, having been the one to suggest the formation of the Gramercy Park Block Association in 1993.

This was after another resident, Tim Harrison, was beaten by a roving gang on the street. The association, run by Tim’s mother Arlene Harrison, was formed the next year and has remained devoted to local safety and quality of life ever since. Meanwhile, Kasha also served as one Gramercy Park’s trustees, including for some time as its counsel.

Arlene Harrison said she’ll remember Kasha for her dedication and her skills as a writer and editor for much of the trustees’ and block association’s literature.

“Just when we thought our writing was in perfect shape for Audrey to review, she would find at least 15 errors,” Harrison said.

She was also a founding member of the Tilden Democratic Club, which she was very active in, both in going to meetings and petitioning.

Until her retirement over 25 years ago, Kasha, a resident of 60 Gramercy Park North, served as chief of staff for the now-deceased Democratic Assemblyman William Passanante, who represented the Greenwich Village area.

Harrison noted that Kasha was often referred to as Passanante’s “brains” by the Assemblymember himself and that they remained good friends for decades.

Kasha was also known for throwing dinner parties, where guests raved over her cooking, and for being an avid church-goer at Calvary. She also met frequently with a group of people, who, like her, had involvement in politics, called The Schleppers.

Kasha had a grown son, Matthew, who worked in the music industry, and died in 2005. She is also predeceased by her sisters Gloria and Maxine. Kasha has one remaining sibling, her brother Peter Kasha, whose five-year-old son Ethan and wife Zena Kasha was very close with.

She was buried last week in Warwick, New Jersey with a small service for family members. On June 30 at 6 p.m., there will be a public memorial service held at Calvary Church, located at 277 Park Avenue South and 21st Street. Reverend Jacob Smith will be officiating.

Dem clubs host presidential candidate forum

Reps for Sanders, Clinton and O’Malley face off on drugs, guns and financial reform 

Assembly Member Keith Wright represented Hillary Clinton, Adam Stolz represented Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Sean Patrick Murphy represented Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Assembly Member Keith Wright represented Hillary Clinton, Adam Stolz represented Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Sean Patrick Murphy represented Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Over a dozen local political clubs sponsored a forum for the Democratic Presidential candidates this past Sunday afternoon but rather than appear at the forum personally, all three campaigns for the leading candidates sent representatives on their behalf. The event was held at the SVA Theatre on West 23rd Street.

Adam Stolz represented Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Sean Patrick Murphy spoke on behalf of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, but former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was represented by New York Democratic Assemblyman Keith Wright instead of a representative of her campaign.

Wright’s lack of familiarity with Clinton’s campaign tripped up the local elected official on a handful of issues during the forum, including on financial reform.

“(Clinton) has a plan to go further than Glass-Steagall,” he said of legislation passed in 1933 that limited commercial bank securities, which was repealed in 1999. “I’m not intimately involved in the campaign but she has a plan to take it further.”

When pressed, Wright could not provide additional information about what he meant by taking Glass-Steagall “further.”

One of the noticeable differences among the candidates was their stance on the death penalty. Both Stolz and Murphy said that their of character for a moment to say that he was “emphatically” against it. Members of the audience clamored for him to instead answer the question as the candidate he was representing, but he said no more on the topic, possibly to deflect the fact that Clinton was the only of the three candidates not opposed.

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No primary for 74th District, but no one tells voters about it

Signs at a Stuyvesant Town polling place in a prior election year

Signs at a Stuyvesant Town polling place in a prior election year

By Sabina Mollot

On Primary Day, which this year was on September 10, voters living in the 74th Assembly District were left without a chance to vote — not that anyone bothered to tell them this.

A primary wasn’t held in the district due to a lack of contested races, a spokesperson for the Board of Elections told Town & Village, but with no warnings about a cancellation, some die-hards still went out to cast their votes. One voter, Stuyvesant Town resident Susan Schoenbaum, told Town & Village she ended up wandering through much of the complex — after seeing that her assigned polling site, 10 Stuyvesant Oval, was closed with no sign of activity. The usual white and blue “Vote Here” signs in English and Spanish that get placed near polling sites on election days were also nowhere to be found.

Schoenbaum said she had not received anything in the mail about a polling site change, and an online check later of where her polling site should have been, on the city Board of Elections website, also showed it as being 10 Oval.

After walking around a while, and asking contractors on site in a golf cart if they knew where she could vote — they didn’t — Schoenbaum popped into the Public Safety office. There, an employee told her the department had received word the primary had been postponed until November.

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Former Community Board chair running for Civil Court judge

Lyle Frank (Photo courtesy of the candidate)

Lyle Frank (Photo courtesy of the candidate)

By Sabina Mollot

An East Midtown Plaza resident and former chair of Community Board 6 is now turning his attention towards public office. Lyle Frank, an attorney who works for the City Council, is running for Civil Court judge for the second municipal court district. His campaign was officially kicked off last week with a fundraising party at the Stuy Town home of Tilden Club President Mark Thompson.

Frank, who’s also from Stuy Town originally, has lived at EMP for 38 years, now raising his six-year-old twins Gavin and Catherine there with his wife, Elyssa Kates. She, too, is an attorney, with the firm BakerHostetler.

This week, Frank spoke with Town & Village about his campaign, and how his desire to become a judge was inspired by his father, Louis, who was also a judge.

“I’m very fortunate that the jobs I’ve had I’ve enjoyed,” said Frank, “but my father was an administrative law judge. He handled a lot of workers’ compensation cases; these were people who got hurt on the job, and he had a great temperament and he was everything you’d want in a judge.”

That’s when Frank realized serving as a judge was “just a great job and very rewarding. It’s just a dream of mine.”

He also believes he’s the right person for the job, meeting a requirement of at least 10 years of experience as an attorney (he’s got over 17), including seven as an arbitrator, helping many cases get concluded in Small Claims Court.

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Opinion: Why our community needs to vote Democratic to save itself

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.