Filling Brewer’s Big Shoes

Written by West Side Spirit on . Posted in News West Side Spirit.


Helen-Rosenthal_optThe new council member on the West side

This year, the Upper West Side’s beloved 12-year city council member Gale Brewer will step into the role of Manhattan Borough President, and Helen Rosenthal takes her seat on the council. Brewer earned her reputation for being available and involved at every level of her constituents’ lives over the course of more than a decade, and many Upper West Siders are happy that she’s moving into an office from which she can still help them. But smaller, more local concerns will now be channeled to Rosenthal, a former community board chair and city budget wonk who campaigned on a vow to address public school problems and the middle class squeeze on the Upper West Side.

Rosenthal’s progressive sensibilities, combined with her approachable demeanor and love of data, align her quite closely with Brewer politically and pragmatically. But of course, she’ll be carving out her own role in the council and in the neighborhood, and will surely have some fresh ideas for the office. One of her immediate challenges will be finding a staff as good as Brewer’s; many people in the neighborhood came to rely as much on the hardworking staffers in Brewer’s district office as they did on the council member herself.

One of Rosenthal’s biggest concerns – preserving middle class life on the Upper West Side – is also one of the most multi-faceted and difficult to tackle, requiring not just compromise on a bill or two but a fundamental shift in how the city – and state – government sees the future of Manhattan. But with a powerful contingent of politically plugged-in Upper West Siders behind her, and a mayor tuned into class and affordability issues, Rosenthal has perhaps the best shot of anyone in the council to address it.

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