The last four City Council members from this district were all from the mainland. In fact, they were all from virtually the same neighborhood. Regardless of whether Ulrich wins re-election or if Frank Galluscio can unseat him, this district will still be represented by someone from the Ozone Park/Howard Beach section of the district. There is nothing wrong with that, and in this case, they are both decent candidates. But Rockaway, as Senator Charles Schumer once said, is a state of mind. Political consultant James McClelland says in reference to politics in Rockaway, “When you go over the bridge, you’re in a different type of world.”
The John Baxters of Rockaway, the beach issues (erosion and dredging), and their eternal transportation woes, make Rockaway the most beautiful and, at times, most inconvenient, part of the city. Maybe, for this reason alone, it is worth exploring the possibility of a Rockaway district. They would certainly have a robust school of candidates in young politically active people coupled with the better known names of Lew Simon and Geraldine Chapey, as well as all that Broad Channel brings to the table politically. Broad Channel is so significant that any Republican that wishes to win the 32nd usually takes a beating in Rockaway, but needs to at least show signs of life in Broad Channel.
From a policy perspective, it is worth exploring. It might create a more representative government and a faster acting electorate.
Peter Koo Will Donate Salary in City Council
Peter Koo is running in the 20th Council District, a seat vacated by John Liu who is running for comptroller. Koo is active in his community, which consists mainly of Flushing and other parts of neighboring Queens. Now that Koo is in a race with Democrat Yen Chou, Koo has upped the ante and added that he will donate his salary to community groups in the 20th District should he be elected. Hey, it worked for Bloomberg, right?
A move like this will always appear to be a political ploy, and to some degree it is, but it still speaks to the man’s will if nothing else. Koo can probably stomach a sacrifice like this more than most of us, but by donating his salary, he no longer can be called a long shot also-ran in a city of hardcore Democrats. He is willing to work for no salary for four years. It means he wants the job, and he is not simply putting himself on the ballot to show the grandchildren that he did something. It’s a significant move.
In no way does this make his policies better or worse. Koo explained on Sunday that “when elected I will donate my salary to help alleviate some of the financial burdens of many of our community groups and assist them in keeping their important programs operational.” It just adds better visibility to a candidate that can easily get lost in the groundswell that is Liu’s juggernaut.
The Best and Worst of It In 2009
The best thing about New York City politics this year is that eight years after September 11th, we are still every bit a functioning city with a bevy of skilled candidates in all levels of government. I still interview and talk to people after they have lost elections, and it shows how lucky we are as a city to have people like Lynn Schulman and Anthony Como that may not have won races recently, but are still there for future possibilities. Look at races in other cities at this level and you do not see losing candidates with this much credibility. It means we are prepared for whatever happens for better or worse. It means we grew in the last eight years, even with a financial crisis.
The worst part of this year’s election cycle is the complete lack of press, ink, coverage, and attention to some good candidates. This will hurt the city when we look for good candidates in the future. I’ve written about Joe Mendola, the GOP candidate for comptroller. I rarely write good things about someone without reason. This candidate will most likely go quietly in this year’s election, since so much attention is being paid to John Liu (attention to Liu - the man, and not so much to the policies that come with him).
Would Mendola have a chance in a city like New York with a little more coverage? Most likely he would still be the underdog because he is not political. One cannot win citywide office without making the rounds at events for years beforehand, and Liu has done that pretty well. In speaking with Mendola for 45 minutes, he never mentioned anything about his party or his opponent’s party. He never mentioned endorsements. He spoke for 45 minutes about pension management. He knows the job, and he could be remembered as the best candidate that nobody ever heard of.
The city would benefit from at least hearing this man in debates. He has a contribution to make. Although the fact that I have to write nice things about a guy that went to Archbishop Molloy just makes me cringe - my apologies to my fellow McClancy alumni.