West Side Story
She represents continuity with the Bloomberg years; he says the city needs to reverse course. He’s been a constant thorn in the mayor’s side. She’s often stood by it.
But with less than 24 hours to go before the polls open, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio found themselves making their final pitches to undecided voters still torn between the two candidates.
Outside P.S. 333 on the Upper West Side, Ms. Quinn, the former front-runner, who is now fighting for a slot in the expected runoff, spent part of the morning greeting parents, including mom Ann Melinger, who stopped to ask Ms. Quinn about her number one issue: city public schools. After discussing the need to scale down the focus on testing and increase arts and music funding, Ms. Melinger asked Ms. Quinn to make her closing pitch.
Blast From The Past
In a city where a prostitute-patronizing ex-governor and a pathological cybersexter can launch viable campaigns, Aaron Braunstein still manages to be one of the more singular candidates for public office this year.
Sipping a Red Bull and droning with a straight face about how he once won a Rolls Royce in a high-stakes Vegas card game, Mr. Braunstein is an unlikely City Council candidate for an even unlikelier district: the high-minded Upper West Side, where Mr. Braunstein, the father of Orange is the New Black actress Natasha Lyonne, lives alone in a cluttered apartment that once belonged to Mike Tyson.
“I talk to the biggest people in the world. I read Tolstoy, Hunter Thompson, I collect antiques … I mean, I’d vote for me,” Mr. Braunstein recently told Politicker, speaking in a Brooklyn rasp that conjured Godfather- era Marlon Brando. Mr. Braunstein was sporting a pencil moustache along with a three-piece suit, flowing scarf and silver tie peaking out from his vest. A gray ponytail flowed down his back, and on Mr. Braunstein’s plump ring finger was an ancient Roman coin the size of a silver dollar that he said had been fished out from the Mediterranean Sea.
Some campaigns point to endorsements from powerful labor unions. Others tout backing from notable elected officials and political clubs.
Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer boasted today about her former interns.
“Council Member Gale Brewer has been known since she was elected to office, and even prior, for enlisting interns that could make US Senators jealous,” declared the release from her campaign. “During her tenure in the City Council, Gale offered countless internships in her district and city hall offices. “
Less than 24 hours after former Gov. Eliot Spitzer shocked the city by jumping into the comptroller’s race, his Democratic opponent, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, deflected question after question about Mr. Spitzer at a press conference this afternoon on the Upper West Side.
“I think the strategy is really the same. The issue is, who is going to fight for the working people of this city, the middle class, the people who are struggling,” said Mr. Stringer, insisting that Mr. Spitzer’s late entry into the race won’t change how he campaigns. “This election is about integrity, as every election is. This elections is about choice, so there is going to be competition.”
Helen Rosenthal, one of the leading Democrats campaigning for an Upper West Side Council district, cut a $1,000 check for former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s aborted Senate campaign. But despite the neighborhood’s status as a progressive bastion, Ms. Rosenthal’s campaign told Politicker she stood by the contribution as a strategic play against a more conservative rival.
Members of the Broadway Democrats, one of the Upper West Side’s most influential political clubs, are at odds over their endorsement of John Liu for mayor.
The club’s endorsements process spun into minor chaos late last night when members were forced to complete their counting in the club’s president’s home. Then, early this morning, a member realized the club had miscounted the ballots because of a misinterpretation of the club’s run-off procedures–forcing a re-count that gave the city’s comptroller a victory.
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.
a campaign brewing
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.”
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.