When Marc Landis, a leading candidate to represent the Upper West Side in the City Council next year, talks about himself, he often boasts of his long record of fighting for affordable housing in New York City. The attorney and Democratic district leader, praised by his many endorsers for his tenant advocacy, also works closely with Tahl Propp Equities, a large real estate developer that has been sued by Manhattan tenants and accused of “predatory” financial practices in rapidly gentrifying Harlem.
“Tahl Propp was one of the early companies that we and other organizers spotted coming in and buying up large amounts of affordable housing and they weren’t a known actor in the affordable housing or real estate world,” said Emily Goldstein, coordinator of preservation and policy at Tenants and Neighbors, a statewide tenant advocacy group. “In more recent years, I know that they’ve said they care about affordable housing. They’ve said they care about the Harlem community. And yet their actual practices in many of these buildings have been detrimental to low and moderate income tenants, to the physical housing stock and arguably to the community.”
In one of its first endorsements this year, the influential 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers union has backed District Leader Marc Landis to replace outgoing Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer. The race to replace Ms. Brewer is one of the most hotly contested in the city, so the backing from one of the state’s labor powerhouses is undoubtedly a nice boost for Mr. Landis’ campaign.
“Marc Landis has a proven record as a progressive activist dedicated to improving our public schools, creating good jobs, advocating for affordable health care and protecting affordable housing for the working families of New York City,” George Gresham, the union’s president, said in a statement.
Ken Biberaj, a vice president at the iconic Russian Tea Room restaurant, has hired a big name to work on his City Council campaign: veteran political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. Mr. Biberaj is running to replace term-limited incumbent Councilwoman Gale Brewer.
“As an Upper West Sider myself, I’m thrilled to work with a candidate who has such a compelling vision for the neighborhood’s future,” Mr. Sheinkopf said in a statement this morning. “It is important that we help protect small businesses and young families on the West Side, and I look forward to representing such a strong and motivated candidate as Mr. Biberaj.”
Ken Biberaj, who works as Vice President at the Russian Tea Room restaurant in Manhattan, looks like he might be throwing his hat in the ring to succeed term-limited Councilwoman Gale Brewer. This afternoon, he registered a committee for the seat, allowing him to fundraise and campaign for the City Council position in 2013.
Mr. Biberaj came to his executive position at the iconic restaurant through his family’s real estate business. The Russian Tea Room has often been featured in pop culture, making appearances in shows ranging from When Harry Met Sally to Gossip Girl.