Cty Council Member Jessica Lappin launched her candidacy for Manhattan borough president on Friday with endorsements from three of the Upper East Side’s elected officials. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Assemblymembers Micah Kellner and Dan Quart joined Lappin on the steps of Yorkville Community School, an elementary school Lappin helped open in 2009, to announce their support of the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island’s Democratic councilwoman.
“I have only heard praise from the people she is elected to serve,” said Maloney, a veteran politician representing Manhattan’s East Side who has worked with Lappin on issues like school overcrowding, and whom Lappin claimed as a mentor.
Maloney described Lappin as a champion of progressive reform, capable of cutting through political rhetoric to bring about lasting change. “If you want to see what a person will do, ask them what they have done,” she said, citing Lappin’s role in bringing Cornell’s future tech center to Roosevelt Island, fighting against the proposed waste transfer station by Asphalt Green and authoring a law to regulate pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in the city.
Maloney also listed Lappin’s accomplishments in education, which include supporting the opening of three elementary schools in her district and securing 20,000 additional public school seats across the city. Lappin herself attended Stuyvesant High School and has a child in a public school in the city. “If we aren’t reforming schools, we’re going backwards,” Maloney said.
Lappin promised to continue to support education, affordable housing and senior programs as borough president, and noted the importance of the position in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. “We are clearly in a rebuilding phase in our city, and that demands strong and effective leadership on all levels of government, and leaders who believe in the power and responsibility of government to do for us what we cannot always do for ourselves,” she said. “The next borough president has to be deeply involved in how and where we rebuild. We are going to get billions of dollars in aid, and we have to spend that money wisely. I want to help the borough grow and remain competitive, yet still retain what makes us unique.”
After her speech, Lappin said working in her district had prepared her well for the role of borough president: “What I’ve learned is that there aren’t issues that are ‘Upper East Side problems.’ You go neighborhood to neighborhood across the borough, and you hear the same issues: affordable housing, public schools, jobs and quality of life concerns.”
Lappin was first elected to the City Council in 2005. She chairs the council’s Committee on Aging and co-chairs its Women’s Caucus, and is a member of the district’s Education, Transportation, Cultural Affairs and Land Use committees.
“The results are there,” Kellner said in his endorsement. “Jessica has not only done things for our community, but borough-wide and citywide already as a member of the City Council.”
“I can’t imagine anyone more vested in the future of Manhattan,” Quart said.
Supporters from the neighborhood gathered around Lappin with campaign signs and led cheers as she spoke. They also spoke highly of her. “I think that she’s actually fearless,” said Rita Popper, a member of Community Board 8. “She has conviction. She has passion. We need that, especially when we’re battling something like the marine transfer station, especially after Hurricane Sandy.”
“I don’t know anything about the others running against her,” admitted Lorraine Johnson, another supporter. “At this point, I don’t even want to know anything about the other people. From her experience and everything she’s done over the years, there just couldn’t be anybody better than that.”
Other contenders in the 2013 election include former Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin and City Council Members Gale Brewer and Robert Jackson.
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