We’ve been watching the spirited presidential contest but our local races have been lackluster at best and devoid of competition at worst. On Tuesday Nov. 4 you’ll probably see a lot of names and have no idea who they are and what they plan to do. Most of the time it won’t even seem to matter since there’s not actually a viable opposing candidate to the Democratic incumbent.
With a few exceptions—such as Assembly candidate Saul Farber—Republican challengers are not even making an attempt to attract voters this year. Some have told us they are not actively campaigning, while others haven’t even bothered to return calls. Pathetic! Perhaps it reflects an identity crisis on a national level, with neoconservatives, fiscal conservatives and evangelical Christians all taking the party in different directions.
Democrats shouldn’t get off the hook, however. Primary challengers, if they come along, typically run anemic campaigns, and incumbents are too quick to kick rivals off the ballot.The one successful insurgent was Dan Squadron, who managed to loosen Marty Connor’s 30-year hold on his State Senate seat. In a city with such depth of talent, ambition and civic-mindedness, voters should not have to settle for the same candidates year after year. Although it almost seems moot, here are our choices for Congressional and State Legislature races.
25th State Senate District (Lower East Side, Chinatown, Parts of Brooklyn) Daniel Squadron The upstart Squadron was able to wrangle endorsements during the primary and unseat Martin Connor from his 30-year reign. His competitor John Chromczak—a gay cello playing medical technician—is even more inexperienced, we just hope all of Squadron’s optimism and ideas to reform Albany sustain him in what will be a power struggle if the Dems finally control the State Senate.
26th State Senate District (From Gramercy to UES, Yorkville) Liz Krueger Krueger, a Democrat, has a challenger who appears to be just a name on a ballot, Republican Timothy Brown. Krueger has a clear understanding of how issues like the economic crisis play out in her district, and how the failure to educate one child has repercussions for all New Yorkers. She has also consistently sponsored efforts to reform how the Legislature does business.
28th State Senate District (Parts of South Bronx, East Harlem, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island) José M. Serrano Serrano is another Democratic State Senator with a challenger in name only, Republican Keesha Weiner. Serrano has done an admirable job fighting for protections for small business owners affected by Second Avenue subway construction, and also has the right priorities when it comes to tenant rights and senior advocacy.
29th State Senate District (UWS, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village and parts of the East Side) Tom Duane Duane, a Democrat, also has a challenger who is not actively campaigning, Republican Debra Leible. Duane has some excellent—and specific—
Hope is coming…
ideas about how to trim New York’s budget by consolidating state agencies, and how to address the MTA’s budget shortfall. He is also dedicated to reforming the Rockefeller drug laws, preserving affordable housing and passing same-sex civil marriage legislation.
30th State Senate District (Parts of UWS, Morningside Heights and Harlem) Bill Perkins (incumbent) Not much to say here; Perkins doesn’t even have a Republican challenger. He still says he’s committed to education and affordable housing, but don’t they all? Oh and if he were to have a campaign song: “Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now” is his pick, which shows that he’s definitely bullish when we all need some good news.
31st State Senate District (Parts of UWS, Morningside Heights, W. Harlem up to Riverdale in the Bronx) Eric Schneiderman We see no reason to get Schneiderman out, and Republican candidate Martin Chicon doesn’t appear to be the one to do it. He’s a smart guy, he understands the legislative process, isn’t interested in checking off the liberal agenda boxes and—dare we say it?—he may even be a bit of a maverick.
64th Assembly District (LES, Downtown, part of Brooklyn) Sheldon Silver Oh, Shelly, we just hope you finally fulfill all those promises.You’ve disappointed us in the past with your willingness to block Bloomie’s sorta good ideas. If you’re the big guy in a Democratic House, we expect some big ideas.
65th Assembly District (Part of UES and Roosevelt Island) Micah Kellner It is a disappointment that Georgiana Viest is a name-filler on the GOP line this November.The Viests are known throughout the Upper East Side community and, more importantly, the incumbent Democrat, Kellner, is running his first general election campaign. However, as an Assembly member, Kellner has proved he can deliver on constituent services and is an open ear for complaints and opinions.
73rd Assembly District (Parts of East Side of Manhattan) Jonathan Bing Bing, a Democrat elected in 2002, is an advo-
cate for his district, but a skilled lawmaker as well. After two East Side crane collapses, he authored several bills to improve crane safety. Unfortunately, some of his best legislative work, such as bills designed to help struggling businesses hurt by Second Avenue subway construction, were vetoed.
74th Assembly District (East Village, Murray Hill, Midtown East) Brian Kavanagh With the economy on everyone’s mind, Kavanagh seems committed to doing the unpleasant but necessary work that it will take to balance the city’s budget and, hopefully, also get the MTA on track so we don’t have any more nasty financial surprises in the coming years. Republican candidate Bryan Cooper poses little threat (although we like his sense of humor when choosing Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as a potential campaign song). Now if Kavanagh could also do something to stop his district’s out-of-control gentrification, we’d be happy.
75th Assembly District (Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and Parts of Midtown & UWS) Richard Gottfried We wish there were more Republicans like Saul Farber: dedicated, passionate, and honest. He is running a campaign that truly defines “uphill battle.”
Still, there is a reason Gottfried has been in his seat since 1970. He also captures those qualities we appreciate in Farber and has been an exemplary Assembly member that we want in office when the budget gets slashed, services cut, and progressive ideals threatened by upstate Republicans.
8th Congressional District (Most of UWS, Hell’s Kitchen to Downtown Manhattan & parts of Brooklyn) Jerrold Nadler Despite not returning our endorsement questionnaire, there is nothing we can say about Nadler that has not been already said. He is a solid Congressman who has gone above and beyond in delivering for his constituents, and even those outside his district.
In Congress, he has been an unwavering progressive voice whose influence has only grown since Democrats took over Capitol Hill.
15th Congressional District (Upper Manhattan and parts of Bronx) Charles Rangel Rangel has had a spate of bad news concerning his living situation and tax payments (or lack thereof), an especially onerous charge given his position as chair of the Ways and Means Committee.
But he did not shy away from an investigation into his records, and is an icon in Harlem and the city. In the district, Rangel has been a staunch advocate of affordable housing, job creation and the rezoning of West Harlem.
14th Congressional District (East Side of Manhattan and Parts of Queens) Carolyn Maloney Democrat Maloney has a Republican challenger, Robert Heim, who has some good priorities in protecting the nation from another terrorist attack, strengthening the economy and improving schools. But Maloney has been a consistently strong advocate at both the local level—on issues like overcrowding and funding the Second Avenue subway—and the federal level, pushing for legislation like a Credit Card Holders’ Bill of Rights and shaping the right strategy for the war in Iraq.