Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a Harlem activist with a controversial past who is running for term-limited Councilman Robert Jackson’s seat, circulated an email late last night in an attempt to plan a “private meeting” to “discuss the potential damage to the political empowerment of the Black and Hispanic community if Mark Levine, a White/Jewish candidate was elected to the 7th Council District in 2013.” This morning, Mr. Lopez-Pierre told Politicker he isn’t organizing the meeting himself and is working on behalf of a larger group who became concerned when they read a report on the political blog The Perez Notes that the Upper Manhattan political machine headed by State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez has been working to “clear” the crowded field of candidates running for the seat to help Mr. Levine win.
“Now that he actually has a chance to win it’s scaring people,” said Mr. Lopez-Pierre. “So, what started first as a discussion of the blog post has now mushroomed among candidates and community leaders into basically a ‘Stop Levine’ campaign.”
The United Federation of Teachers is set to hand West Harlem City Councilman Robert Jackson their most prestigious honor at their annual spring conference.
The award–the John Dewey Award for Excellence in Education–has also been conferred upon such luminaries as Bill Clinton and Martin Luther King, but it may have more some immediate political relevance.
Mr. Jackson is the chair of the City Council’s education committee, but he is also locked in a tight race for Manhattan borough president, and it is a race that a powerful union like the UFT could play a large role in.
At today’s City Council hearing on the co-location of public and private schools, Councilwoman Tish James declared she was in the room to “advocate” as she walked in.
“Tish James said that she is ‘advocating’ here, indicating that she may be running for Public Advocate,” the head of the education committee, Councilman Robert Jackson, joked later, referencing her public campaign for the citywide office.
Councilman Robert Jackson is ramping up his fundraising efforts in his bid to be Manhattan Borough President. On April 17, Mr. Jackson is having a fundraiser in an apartment adjacent to Lincoln Center. Mr. Jackson has good reason to step up his efforts to draw donations. As of January, he had a much smaller war chest than two of his rivals in the race for the borough presidency.
Council Members Al Vann and Robert Jackson, who is chair of the Education Committee, introduced a resolution today asking the State Legislature to limit mayoral control of city schools. The resolution, which comes following growing controversy over recent school closings, calls on the legislature to give community councils approval over school closures and co-locations.
“The process for proposing and approving these significant changes to schools has disenfranchised communities and parents,” Mr. Vann said. “Providing a significant role for CECs in the co-location and school closure process will not only ensure that proposals are thoughtful and truly include input from communities and parents, but also will enhance community and parental involvement in our public schools.”
Law & Order
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly fielded questions on the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk and Muslim surveillance programs during a contentious hearing of the City Council Public Safety Committee. Mr. Kelly was ostensibly testifying about the NYPD’s preliminary budget for the coming fiscal year, but the hearing quickly turned into a heated discussion of the department’s most controversial policies when committee members questioned the commissioner following his testimony.
Add another name to the list of those contemplating competing for term-limited Councilman Robert Jackson’s seat. Mark Otto, an assistant principal at a public high school, already has registered a campaign committee and created a campaign website.
Understandably, Mr. Otto’s campaign pitch relies heavily on his background as a teacher. According to his website, Mr. Otto “is a kind, passionate, dedicated and reflective leader that has a clear vision for successful schooling in New York City.”
District Leader Mark Levine filed for term-limited Councilman Robert Jackson’s seat this afternoon, further setting the stage for what could be one of the most hotly contested City Council races in 2013.
Mr. Levine had previously told The Politicker he was “definitely” entering the race unless there’s an opening in the State Senate district created by Adriano Espaillat running for the House of Representatives. This new committee will allow him to fundraise and campaign more directly for the position.
Mr. Levine made headlines in 2010 by running for now-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s State Senate seat, losing to Mr. Espaillat, who was an Assemblyman at the time. Mr. Levine, who speaks Spanish, scored a respectable 39% of the vote in the heavily Latino district.
a campaign brewing
Veteran Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer is jumping into the race for Manhattan Borough President.
“I’m going to definitely do it I. haven’t gotten myself organized, because I’m working on so many different issues, but I will,” Ms. Brewer told The Politicker last night at a public forum hosted by Police Reform Organizing Project at the LGBT Community Center.
Ms. Brewer is entering a crowded field. With current Borough President Scott Stringer gearing up to run for mayor next year, Councilman Robert Jackson, Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin and Councilwoman Jessica Lappin have all already begun campaigning for the position.
Councilman Robert Jackson is planning to run for borough president in 2013, and already a host of candidates are lining up to take his place for the Upper Manhattan council seat.
Among them are longtime Washington Heights politico Maria Luna, who last ran for this same seat in 1992, a current and a former district leader who squared off in a pitched electoral battle last year, an aide to neighborhood institution Charlie Rangel, two former challengers to Mr. Jackson, a community board vice chair and a 24-year-old City Council staffer from across town.
Legislative lines for the District, which currently includes Morningside Heights, West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Central Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood, could shift before the race next year. In the meantime, many of the aspiring heirs to Mr. Jackson’s seat are watching each other and other local politicians before deciding what move to make.