Our Election Picks

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GOVERNOR: ANDREW CUOMO

With the amount of dissatisfaction and disappointment that many have expressed toward New York State government, it’s clear we need a governor who has a strong vision for the office and who can take control of a Legislature that has caused embarrassment on a national level. The choice for voters is between Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and the Republication businessman from Buffalo, Carl Paladino. We wholeheartedly endorse Cuomo for governor.

Paladino has little to offer and has run a campaign filled with bigotry and bluster. While we recognize the strain of populism that has appealed to those disgruntled with government and the way politicians have been behaving, we do not want our state governed by anyone who has so little respect for his fellow citizens.

But this is not simply a Cuomo-bydefault decision. As attorney general, Cuomo has a strong record as the state’s chief lawyer, investigating the pay-to-play scandal that led former Comptroller Alan Hevesi to plead guilty.

His blueprint for ethics reform includes a section that would legislate that lawmakers would have to disclose their earnings from outside jobs, something we think should also happen. While we are wary of family “dynasties” in all levels of politics, we feel Andrew Cuomo has shown a clear path and ambition in politics separate from his father’s, while also learning from his time working with him.

We do, however, hope that Andrew Cuomo stops playing it safe when it comes to his stated principles, coming out strong in favor of marriage equality (something that nearly all New York City politicians agree it is time for) and other progressive legislation. Getting any of his reforms passed with an obstinate Legislature will not be easy. But we feel Cuomo can make good on his promises to restore trust and create transparency in government.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN

The next New York attorney general has big shoes to fill. Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo were both crusaders who were able to balance complex issues of national importance as well as move the reform

ball forward. The next attorney general must have the experience to be able to tap dance his way through the minefield of Albany corruption as well as find new ways of protecting consumers. That’s why we endorse Eric Schneiderman, a state senator from the Upper West Side, as our next attorney general.

While our state government has increasingly started resembling a Saturday Night Live skit, Schneiderman has been one of the few bright stars at the state level. He’s a smart, effective, reformminded legislator who has stood up to his party when required, as well as crafted important legislation that promotes equal justice under law, such as ending the draconian Rockefeller drug laws.

Cleaning up Albany has become something of the mantra of this election.

But Schneiderman has actually done it by convening a bipartisan panel to expel fellow Democrat Hiram Monserrate after he was convicted of assault against his girlfriend. In addition, he has spent many years standing up against Republican senators that have blocked his progressive reform-minded legislation.

We are confident that his background and experience plus core philosophy of equal justice will ensure that the interests of all New Yorkers are heard. He has a broad agenda that protects consumers, prevents the pollution of the environment and fights discrimination.

Mr. Schneiderman’s opponent, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, has a record that he can be proud of. As the Staten Island DA, he has amassed a high conviction rate for dangerous felons; he has also served respectably under Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau. Donovan has a competent, nuts-and-bolts plan for the attorney general position. What he doesn’t have is the sweeping vision needed to implement the changes as well as the reform-minded vision of Eric Schneiderman.

COMPTROLLER: HARRY WILSON

Officially, the state comptroller is responsible for the nearly $130 billion pension fund, auditing agencies and releasing economic reports. But former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s recent guilty plea in a pay-to-play scandal put a spotlight on the sleepy, unglamorous office. Now, New Yorkers need a state comptroller

that is pragmatic, vigorous and innovative. We endorse Republican Harry Wilson for state comptroller.

The current comptroller, Democrat Tom DiNapoli, has implemented necessary reforms and protected the pension fund since he was appointed to the seat in 2007.

But Wilson, the Republican candidate, is a Harvard-educated investor with an extensive and unique background in the public and private sectors.

His resumé includes Goldman Sachs, Blackstone Capital and, most, recently Silver Point Capital. He was the only Republican on President Barack Obama’s auto-industry task force, where he led the successful restructuring of General Motors.

Wilson has the investment and managerial background needed to make the comptroller’s job integral to fixing New York’s economy. He is a moderate Republican who has a proven record of bipartisanship and pragmatism. Much like his work saving General Motors, we believe Wilson would work well with unions, rather than conveniently blaming them for all of the state’s fiscal problems. He believes in a low-tax burden for business rather than spending tax dollars on corporate welfare.

After Hevesi’s resignation, the State Legislature tapped DiNapoli, an Assembly member from Long Island, to become the new comptroller. While DiNapoli had no prior investment experience, he has the vision to continue being an able comptroller. He also instituted important ethics reforms in the office, from banning pay-to-play practices and placement agents from the investment fund.

But Wilson has the vision, skills and temperament to be an excellent comptroller. Though he is a Republican, this is one of the few races where voters in the city can cast a ballot for the GOP without voting for a conservative ideologue.

STATE LEGISLATURE

Our districts have quality, progressive legislators in Congress and in Albany. The Republican alternative in these races are either nonexistent or not a credible choice. We endorse State senators Bill Perkins, Tom Duane and Assembly members Linda Rosenthal, Daniel O’Donnell for re-election. In the open State Senate seat that covers parts of the Upper West Side, all of Northern Manhattan and parts of the Bronx, we endorse Adriano Espaillat.

In the House, Jerrold Nadler and Charles Rangel deserve re-election to their seats.

BALLOT MEASURES:

Earlier this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called a commission to study and recommend changes to the city charter. This Nov. 2, voters in New York City must approve the changes at the ballot.

The questions are printed on the back of the ballot, on the other side of the candidate list. If approved, the changes would bring back two-term limits for city officials and make running for office easier. Voters should vote “yes” on these two questions.

New Yorkers should vote “yes” on the question that would limit the next mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough presidents and Council members to two, consecutive four-year terms. Voters established these limits through two ballot initiatives in the 1990s. But when Bloomberg wanted to run for a third term last year, the Council passed a law that overturned the two referendums.

Bringing the term limits law back to two terms would respect the voters that chose two terms for local elected officials. Most importantly, the new law would also block the City Council from again changing the term limit law through legislation.

The second question contains seven parts that, in part, will help more candidates get on the ballot. Voters should say “yes” to the question, which would approve all seven changes to the charter. These changes would lower the onerous ballot laws that inhibit competitive elections and insurgent candidates running for office.

The changes include:

• Greater disclosure of campaign spending from independent groups.

• Cutting the number of petitions needed to get on the ballot in half for each elected office.

• Increasing the fine for violating the city’s Conflicts of Interest law from $10,000 to $25,000.

• Consolidating the number of “administrative tribunals,” where people charged with violating a law or regulation can contest the charge.

• Creating a commission of appointees from the mayor and City Council to review the necessity of Charter and Administrative codes that require agency reports.

• Adding government-operated transportation and waste-management facilities in the annual map of the city’s property used to site new city facilities.

Our Election Picks

Written by Editors on . Posted in Posts.


TRADITIONALLY NEW YORK PRESS has not endorsed in local elections—unless it was meant as ridicule. But times have changed.This is only the second time we’ve endorsed a mayor (an entirely different editorial board and publisher “satirically” endorsed Fernando Ferrer in 2005), and nowadays we take the entire process seriously.

We hope that the decisions of the editorial board highlight issues regarding candidates in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary and prove a useful guide for our readers. We also hope that voter turnout will be high to reflect this particularly important juncture in city history.

Readers should note that for two of these offices (comptroller and public advocate), the winner from a field of four candidates needs to get 40 percent of the vote. That means that if no one broaches the 40 percent mark—a very likely occurrence— there will be a Sept. 29 run-off election between the top two contenders, prolonging the politicking.


Mayor: Michael Bloomberg

The
general election for mayor isn’t until Nov. 3, but since the Democratic
primary will determine nearly all of the most hotly contested races
this year, we are including our choice for the city’s chief executive
officer with this slate of candidates.

New York City is at a
pivotal point in its history. While the city is arguably the most
livable it’s ever been, fallout from the imploding financial sector and
real estate industry still lingers, despite some initial signs of
improvement. The key at this critical juncture is nursing a more
diverse economy back to health while maintaining and building on the
gains of recent years in education, business, public safety and the
vibrant culture that defines New York City.We think Mayor Michael
Bloomberg is the man who is best qualified for this job. Throughout the
past eight years, Bloomberg has advanced ambitious plans to overhaul
the largest public school system in the country, mitigate traffic and
congestion, increase and improve green space, foster arts and culture
and rezone the city to fit the residential and business needs of
tomorrow—all while driving crime to record lows, and keeping a vigilant
eye on a terrorist threat that still lingers.We’re impressed with the
caliber of staffers Bloomberg has trusted to enact this agenda, and the
record he’s shown in working amicably with City Council Speaker
Christine Quinn. It’s a refreshing change from the past, one that
engenders a climate of productivity, rather than political squabbling.

But
what’s most compelling about this mayor is the overall vision orienting
these initiatives: his goal is to enhance New York City’s best
attributes to make it a city people want to live in, do business in and
visit.

A keen businessman, the mayor understands that these
three goals are inextricably linked, and he has the foresight and drive
to make them all priorities.

Certainly, Bloomberg’s record has
not been perfect. His focus on residential development has left
classrooms at overcapacity and kindergartners on wait-lists for zoned
schools. This was a problem that many saw coming several years ago, and
the Department of Education should not have had to scramble to find
seats.

Likewise, we think he could do more to help small
businesses. Bloomberg asserts that the biggest help the city can
provide is to create a climate that generates more customers.

But
this shies away from what’s really hurting mom-and-pops: skyrocketing
rents. Although we won’t go so far as to suggest commercial rent
control, a more aggressive approach using carrots and sticks like
zoning changes and tax incentives is worth exploring. Bloomberg’s
suggestion that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority be
responsible for aiding businesses hurt by Second Avenue subway
construction is unreasonable, given that agency’s reputation for
dysfunction and a need for the city, state and MTA to share the
financial burden.

But these are flaws in a record that has, on
the whole, been bold, inventive and overwhelmingly successful. We’d
like to see Bloomberg both build on these accomplishments and address
these shortcomings in a third term, leaving a legacy of perhaps one of
New York’s greatest mayors.

One issue we have not addressed
here is the mayor’s successful bid to change the term limits law. We
came out in favor of this proposal, as we thought it was important to
have the leadership of a talented incumbent at this point in time. As
Bloomberg himself has stated, if voters dis agree

with
his actions, then the Nov. 3 election is their chance to weigh in.
Certainly Comptroller William C. Thompson is an estimable candidate,
but he is often in alignment with Bloomberg, and it’s difficult to
differentiate him as a candidate.We feel that Bloomberg is the right
leader for the next four years, and we support his reelection on Nov. 3.


Comptroller: David Yassky

The
comptroller can be seen as C.F.O. of the city, responsible for making
sure that budgets are tight and inefficiencies are pinpointed.

In
this economy, New Yorkers need a comptroller who will audit city
agencies, kill contracts that waste money, propose a wise pension fund
investments strategy and be a leading voice on transparency and
government reform. But we also need more than a bean-counting
bureaucrat.

That’s why we feel New Yorkers should vote for Brooklyn Council Member David Yassky as the city’s next comptroller. Yassky

showed
independence by being the only candidate to endorse legislation that
will create a new level of pension benefits for future retirees, with
the goal of reducing taxpayer costs. This is the kind of leadership
that the future comptroller must exhibit to help the city get through
the recession. (Full disclosure:Yassky’s campaign rents separate office
space from New York Press’ parent company, Manhattan Media.)
Yassky has an evenhanded approach to managing the city’s $83 billion
pension fund. He understands the need to have a diverse portfolio that
will protect the pensioners and taxpayers when the economy suffers. His
idea to invest in biotechnological companies as an alternative is not
reckless, like some of his opponents’ plans.

Yassky’s campaign also posted the city’s budget and member items on a website, www.ItsYourMoneyNYC.com.
While this information is already online, it is buried in the Council’s
website and has never been presented in a format that regular New
Yorkers can read easily and understand.

The other three
candidates—Queens Council members John Liu, David Weprin and Melinda
Katz—are qualified. Katz has too many connections to the real estate
industry, and her plan to use pension funds to invest in viable but
debt-strapped businesses is irresponsible. Liu will surely bring the
same tenacity to the comptroller’s duties as he does to Council
committee hearings, but we’re concerned he’ll be too focused on using
the office as a bully pulpit. Weprin, though he has the financial
expertise, lacks a broader vision for the office.

Yassky is a
well-rounded candidate who can balance experience with leadership, and
we endorse him in the Democratic primary for comptroller.


Public Advocate: Bill de Blasio

Each
of the candidates running for this office brings something to the table
when it comes to being the city’s ombudsman. But Brooklyn Council
Member Bill de Blasio has the most far-reaching vision for this office,
and the most detailed plans for executing that vision on a shoestring
budget.

De Blasio plans to leverage the public advocate’s
meager resources by working with organizations like Transportation
Alternatives and the Brennan Center for Justice, at New York University
Law School.

Through the public advocate’s appointee to the
City Planning Commission, he pledges to be an aggressive watchdog on
development, making sure that affordable housing, landmarks and
neighborhood context are given adequate consideration in the approval
process. We also like his promise to examine the “consultant” culture
at the Department of Education, as well as the proliferation of testing
under Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s leadership.

The other
candidates in this race certainly have their attractive qualities. Mark
Green, New York’s first public advocate, has a long and distinguished
record of challenging the powers that be, but he seems too focused on
the past to enact a forward-looking agenda. Norman Siegel likewise has
an impressive resume as a civil rights lawyer, but he has run a
lackluster campaign and we aren’t convinced that he will most
effectively execute the public advocate’s duties. And Queens Council
Member Eric Gioia has become an effective and vocal advocate for
constituents, but we feel he’s spending too much time touting his
history, rather than detailing plans for the office.

There
are, however, a few reservations about de Blasio’s candidacy. If
elected, he’ll be tasked with policing the large swath of elected
officials and unions that have en dorsed his bid for office; we hope
this doesn’t make him too cozy to be an effective independent check on
city government. And we feel that de Blasio should be more proactive in
addressing the questionable services provided to his campaign by the
Working Families Party and its for profit company, Data Field Services
(a series of stories in our sister publication, City Hall, highlighted some serious questions).

Still,
de Blasio strikes us as the candidate most ready to hit the ground
running in January, and we endorse him in the Democratic primary for
public advocate.


Manhattan District Attorney: Leslie Crocker Snyder

This
year’s race to be Manhattan district attorney is a historic one. The
winner will succeed Robert Morgenthau, the legendary prosecutor who was
sworn into office in 1974. The Manhattan district attorney’s office is
the most important prosecutorial body in the country. It has
far-reaching jurisdiction that has successfully tried complex
white-collar crimes, international crime, governmental fraud and
violent murderers and attacks. The district attorney needs experience
in trying such cases, as well as the vision and management skills
necessary to better prevent and target criminal activity.

All
three candidates—Leslie Crocker Snyder, Cyrus Vance, Jr. and Richard
Aborn—are well qualified. They have detailed similar plans for the
office, including implementing a community-based justice system,
improving technology in the office and minimizing and addressing
wrongful convictions. But we feel that Snyder has the experience and
drive to follow through with these plans while being an able
prosecutor.

Snyder has varied and lengthy experience as an
assistant district attorney, a judge in New York State’s Supreme and
Criminal courts and a defense lawyer.

In 2005, she had the
courage to challenge Morgenthau in the Democratic primary. The move was
potential political suicide, and we endorsed Morgenthau in that race,
but we feel that her courage to take on such a popular figure and
highlight the office’s flaws demonstrates the kind of gumption
Manhattan’s next D.A. needs.

With a three-decade long
background in criminal justice, we feel confident in her plans to open
a Second Look Bureau to prevent and rectify wrongful convictions, train
assistant district attorneys to better prosecute white-collar crimes
and manage one of the largest criminal justice offices in the country.

Her
opponents are also qualified for the position.Vance is an able
prosecutor, but we are concerned that his ties to Morgenthau— his
biggest supporter—would not be broken. Aborn’s work on gun-control laws
and crime prevention are exemplary, but his ideas are lofty.

We
are, however, concerned about the negative tone Snyder has brought to
the campaign in recent weeks. The district attorney needs to show
public restraint.

But we feel that once elected, Snyder will
be a fair-minded and tough prosecutor. We endorse Snyder in the
Democratic primary for Manhattan district attorney.


City Council District 1: Jin “P.J.” Kim

This
district—which includes the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Battery Park
City, Tribeca and the Financial District—has seen some of the most
intense development (as well as conflicts) since Councilmember Alan
Gerson took office in eight years ago. While the incumbent has tried to
effect change during his tenure—and remains supportive of many progressive
developments affecting nightlife, affordable housing and schools—there
have been too many stalled projects, divisive decisions and a lack of
leadership or vision to benefit the area’s diverse populations.That is
why we feel it is time for a new era in Downtown politics, and why we
support Jin “P.J.” Kim for City Council District 1.We applaud Margaret
Chin, the most seasoned competitor in the race, who has spent close to
40 years as an activist for many of the neighborhoods, but we feel she
is still mired in the politics of the past. Kim, a South Korean
immigrant with degrees from Princeton and Harvard Business School, is
the face of the changing district. Although he has lived in the
district for a smaller amount of time than the other candidates, he has
broad knowledge of the issues facing many of the residents and brings a
professional and disciplined approach to fixing these problems. He’s
worked in the private sector and recently used his skills to assist
antipoverty programs. Many of the historic rifts between ethnic and
economic factions stand a chance to be reconciled with Kim, a new face
in local politics whom we feel has a long and bright future ahead of
him. We wholeheartedly endorse PJ Kim for City Council District 1.


City Council District 3: Christine Quinn

Traditionally
an area of Manhattan known for progressive politics, especially
involving gay and lesbian issues, City Council’s District 3 has also
seen record development and improvement of services. Although some
constituents feel incumbent Christine Quinn is detached from the daily
issues affecting the West Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen due to
her duties as City Council Speaker, we feel that Quinn has served her
district well, using her considerable clout to negotiate and broker
deals that have benefited the area.We cannot ignore the controversies
of Quinn’s tenure, first the slush fund scandal (wherein city funds
were allocated to fake non-profits) and most recently supporting Mayor
Michael Bloomberg in overturning the city’s term-limit law without a
public referendum. If Quinn had acted differently regarding term
limits, her competitors in the race would have little to criticize her
for. While Quinn appears tooclosely aligned with the mayor these days,
she is not afraid to come out against him in vocal ways and we feel she
remains the strongest advocate for her district, as well as the city as
a whole.We still see a great many positives in Quinn’s time in office.
She remains one of the most powerful voices in New York politics and
her activism continues; Quinn has spent a great deal of time lobbying
for marriage equality with State Senators. Since it appears Mayor
Bloomberg’s hope for a lasting legacy rests in West Side
development—both with the Hudson Yards and extension of the No. 7 train
line—we want Quinn to weigh-in on these issues.We admire the
achievements of the two women who have challenged her in the race,
especially Yetta Kurland, whom we hope to see run for office again.We
feel that Christine Quinn’s pragmatism and skills will serve her
district and the city best at this critical juncture, and we endorse
her for re-election.



In the interest of full
disclosure, readers should also know that earlier this year, Manhattan
Media—the parent company of Manhattan Newspaper Group, publishers of New
York Press, Our Town, West Side Spirit, Chelsea Clinton News
and The Westsider—formed
a separate company called Madison Square Partners, LLC, an ad
placement consulting firm for clients that include political campaigns. Clients include
Michael Bloomberg, Norman Siegel, Cyrus Vance Jr. and David Weprin. In
order to separate the business interests of Madison Square Partners, any individuals
involved with that division were not included in the endorsement process. Endorsement
decisions were based on candidates’ records, proposals and on-site interviews
conducted collectively by the editorial board of the Manhattan Newspaper
Group.

OUR ELECTION PICKS

Written by admin on . Posted in Editorial, Opinion and Column.


Over the last two years, we as a country have had the enjoyment of watching a good old fashioned, competitive presidential election. Here in Manhattan, though, we’ve missed out. Our races for Congress and State Legislature, especially during the primaries, have been lackluster at best and devoid of competition at worst. This isn’t good for the state, the city or democracy as a whole.
While New York is certainly a blue city, and we as a newspaper tend to favor the Democrats who have run, we can still remember a time when the GOP had a serious role to play in local races. Public servants like Roy Goodman, Charles Millard, Andrew Eristoff and John Ravitz were substantive legislators and brought the political dialogue to another level, forcing Democrats to up their game.
With a few exceptions, like West Side Assembly candidate Saul Farber, Republican challengers are not even making a serious attempt to attract voters this year. Some have told us they are not actively campaigning, while others haven’t even bothered to return calls. This is pathetic.
Democrats shouldn’t get off the hook, either. Primary challengers, if they come along, typically run anemic campaigns, and there are incumbents who pursue frivolous lawsuits to kick rivals off the ballot.
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. There’s no easy answer to this problem, though the solution likely includes more robust campaigns from challengers, easing the requirements for getting on the ballot and heightened interest from voters.
That being said, there are incumbents who are dedicated public servants with admirable track records. And if Democrats take the majority in the State Senate, we would like to see them live up to their promises of reform, especially when it comes to a more transparent and equitable legislative process. Other issues of importance that should be at the top of legislators’ agendas include affordable housing, a 21st-century transit system, access to healthcare and high quality public education.
Here are our choices for the Congressional and State Legislature races before voters this Nov. 4.
• 8th Congressional District:
Jerrold Nadler
Despite not returning our endorsement questionnaire, there is nothing we can say about Nadler that has not been said already. 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:
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 he is an icon in Harlem and the city in general. In the district, Rangel has been a staunch advocate of affordable housing, job creation and the rezoning of West Harlem.

• 29th State Senate District:
Tom Duane
Duane, a Democrat, also has a challenger who is not actively campaigning, Republican Debra Leible. Duane has some excellent—and specific—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:
Bill Perkins
Democrat Perkins is another incumbent who doesn’t have a Republican challenger. Like many of his colleagues, he’s committed to education, affordable housing, job creation and promoting civil rights. He also continues to address lead poisoning issues across the state, and created an eminent domain task force.

• 31st State Senate District:
Eric Schneiderman
Schneiderman, a Democrat, has a clear understanding of the legislative process and a firm grasp of the complex issues facing the state. He has a number of smart, concrete ideas for closing the budget gap, and for shoring up the MTA’s finances. His Republican challenger, Martin Chicon, is a little thin on details.

• 67th Assembly District:
Linda Rosenthal
Democrat Rosenthal has a challenger in name only, Eleanor Friedman, a Republican. Rosenthal good ideas about how to tackle budget shortfalls, including collecting taxes the sale of Indian reservation cigarettes to non-tribe members and aggressively going after Medicaid fraud. She also has the right priorities for her district: preserving affordable housing and protecting tenants; tackling school overcrowding; and improving the quality of life on the West Side.

• 69th Assembly District:
Daniel O’Donnell
Democrat O’Donnell, who has no challenger, has recently worked on legislation that protected youth offenders who have unproven allegations on their records; addressed water pollution; and established a Sustainable Transportation Policy Task Force. His goals for the future include preserving affordable housing, pushing for smaller class sizes and creating a Morningside Heights historic district.

• 75th Assembly District:
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.

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