Voting In The Big
The Dawning Of A Brand New Day
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Its election time!
This column is going to take the week off from commenting on the grim
realities of the World Trade Center tragedy, war in Afghanistan, terrorism in the mail and
the anxiety of what the future holds.
Mark Green & Mike Schenkler
photo: Dee Richard
Were going to quickly revert back to our roots and visit
the candidates who square off in Tuesdays election. Coming back home to politics and
elections is like having a slice of pizza after a string of fancy meals always
good, always comforting and you always walk away wondering if any other food is really
necessay at least I do.
Politics local politics is this columns staple
And Mayor, Borough President and City Council are about as local as the
big time game gets.
& Mike Schenkler
photo: Dee Richard
It seems like the mayoral contest has been going on forever. The
primary, originally slated for Sept. 11 was cancelled mid-morning and held two weeks
later; there was a Democratic runoff with an end that lasted for several days due to a
less-than-perfect Board of Elections and less-than-auspicious campaign tactics. There was
also Rudy Giuliani trying to "steal the mayorality" for three months or more by
playing games leveraging his new-found popularity.
And now, after more than a decade of preparing (and running) for the
job, Mark Green, the Citys public advocate, is close enough to taste the water in
He faces Mike Bloomberg who started preparing for the run perhaps only
a year ago. Mike was too busy building the giant business media conglomerate that bears
his name. Hell tell you that running a mammoth company, making shrewd business
decisions and supervising thousands is the best training any candidate could possibly have
especially in the new New York requiring economic revitalization and rebuilding.
Green on the other hand is the consummate public servant. From his days
with Ralph Nader to his most recent gig as public advocate, Green has devoted his life to
the noble pursuit.
Some may question whether Green has ever had any real heavy managerial
experience while others wonder whether Bloomberg is just too new to politics to handle the
As far as political leanings, dont buy what theyre selling.
Both Mark Green and Mike Bloomberg are liberal Democrats. They were nurtured on the same
progressive principles as this writer. Bloombergs change of party and Greens
move to the center are each part of a political remake to capture the mayoral prize.
Im not yelling deceit or malice, thats the way the game is played. Mike and
Mark wouldnt even deny it too vigorously.
Conclude that whichever of the two you vote for, youll get a guy
who is a progressive on social issues but forced to be a fiscal moderate to conservative .
. . and thats good.
Mark Green is not the typical Democratic mayoral candidate. He has not
built the deep political relationships with labor or party organizations. He does not have
political friends and operatives in each neighborhood. He is independent. It wasnt
until he got to the runoff that party and labor leaders sat at the table to consider him.
He could be a mayor beholden to very few. He could be a mayor unable to build coalitions.
He could be a mayor who governs by his own judgement a rarity in City history.
Mike Bloomberg is not the typical Republican candidate. He never tried
to build any political relationships. Hes bought his political operatives and
contacts in the Citys neighborhoods. He is independent. He is uncorruptable
special interests will never own him. He too may struggle to build the essential
coalitions. He will run the City like a business. He could be a mayor who governs by his
own judgement a rarity in City history.
Mark visited me at the Trib last April as he was just hitting
stride in the race. Id met him a number of times through the years. He hadnt
changed. Hes hard working, driven and bright.
Green stands on his record of advocacy for the people, and explained
that he was the choice of the voters in his party because the people had watched him and
liked what they saw.
I noted back then that "Green isnt green." Hes
got a credible history of public service and what seems to be a professional campaign. His
heart and politics are in the right place."
I wrote, "And above all, Green points out: Im not
beholden to anyone but the people. . . Im not a candidate of machine politics.
Im an independent Democrat. I will enter office as a candidate of the
In August, Mike came by the Trib to chat. I wrote: "Mike
Bloomberg is bright, visionary, compassionate, knows our City and does not want to be a
"Ive learned a lot," he told me back then, of his short
journey into elective office.
"It will certainly be a tragedy if I dont get elected,"
he explained, "a tragedy for education, for housing, for public health, for crime
"New York is a compassionate city," he said "it takes
care of its citizens." And Bloomberg has the heart and business know-how to make it
I wrote: "Mike smoothly moved from issue to issue with familiarity
and vision, applying common sense solutions to everyday problems.
"Mike Bloomberg is confident. He is learning. He is determined. He
is a bright and skilled executive who offers the City a new perspective on
Both Mark and Mike will address rebuilding the City, education and
affordable housing. They both will focus on delivery of City service. Their styles may
differ, but both will govern considering the Citys less fortunate and the
Citys fiscal problems. Theyre both basically good men. Their motives
wont differ and their objectives wont be far apart.
The race could be close.
Youll have to decide who will be more effective.
A Quick Look At The
For Beep & A Couple Of Council Seats
Last week, I chatted with GOP Beep candidate Al Stabile who did his
darndest to convince me that he expected to win.
Al listed a dozen campaign stops he had made the night before and
celebrated the warm greeting he was getting from our diverse borough. This Republican
Conservative sure sounded like he was the candidate of the down-trodden when he contrasted
the communities that were well-served with the communities that werent, by dividing
the borough into quadrants separated by the Grand Central Parkway and the Van Wyck
Hes supporting Joe Addabbo, Jr, the Democratic candidate for City
Council to replace him in the Councils 32nd District. He claims that is what has
caused the public accusations that claimed he had taken Little League money and used
campaign funds to pay for his daughters wedding. He claims that JoAnn Ariola, his
former staff member and GOP candidate for the Council seat, made up the stories to
discredit him when he showed his preference for Addabbo.
"I have never been contacted by the DA, the police or any
investigator. And Im an easy target," said Stabile, dismissing the stories.
"Im an in-your-face politician" said Al, of his style
and ability to deliver for Queens.
"We just survived a great hit; we lost our virginity," Al
said of the Trade Center tragedy. "We must tighten up immigration and rebuild our
"People dont view me as a Republican Conservative," he
said. "To them, Im a heavy-set fellow, a family man, dedicated to children. I
am for real."
I interviewed Helen Marshall, the Democratic Liberal candidate in
August. "Ive felt a strange kinship with the woman I met some forty years
ago," I wrote. "Sometime, in the early sixties my father became principal of
P.S. 143 in Corona. Helen became the PTA president. Ive watched as Helen toiled in
the civic and political field and when the 1980 redistricting opened up a new Assembly
seat, Helen won it and I was delighted. And a decade later, charter revision expanded the
new City Council and I was happy when Helen joined that body."
"Helen prides herself on the quality constituent service she
provides her district and would bring a cracker jack team to Borough Hall to
serve the entire borough."
"I take pride in my ability to bring people together," she
told me back then.
What did Helen think of possibly making history and becoming the first
African American Queens Borough President? While her eyes conveyed her pride, she
insisted, "Race is a divisive factor. I am not a black candidate."
Helen represents all the people equally and her anger shows, should you
suggest anything else. She is proud, she is focused, and she cares.
Al Stabile is putting up a courageous effort. However, to this
political junkie, he seems out-gunned by Helen Marshalls high-powered campaign with
momentum in a borough where Democrat has always been the Borough Presidents first
Marshall will continue her ride, taking an impressive primary victory
all the way to become the first black Borough President of Queens, the most diverse place
The Republican Party is quietly fading from this borough. The present
Queens Council delegation includes 11 Dems and three Republicans. Itll take a Mike
Bloomberg landslide with long coattails for them to hold onto their three seats.
The Republicans have failed to produce an effort to challenge any
existing Dem seat.
In the 19th Council seat presently held by the GOPs Mike Abel,
longtime Dem activist Tony Avella seems to be out in front of Democrat-turned-Republican
Dennis Saffran. Saffran hopes to take his Giuliani moderate Republican stance and capture
a district that often votes that way in spite of the Democratic designation. Hell
have to overcome two decades of service and name recognition built by Avella, one of the
hardest-working civic activists on the scene.
In the 32nd presently held by Al Stabile, longtime activist Dem Joe
Addabbo, Jr. is being challenged by former Stabile staffer JoAnn Ariola. Ariola has not
responded to the Tribunes request for info or returned our phone
calls. Stabile is supporting the Dem over his former staffer. Addabbos family name
and years of toil should be enough to retain his lead over the absent Ariola.
The best Council race is in the 30th to replace Republican Tom
Ognibene. Liz Crowley, the 20-something cousin of powerful Congressman Joe, has taken her
family name, Dem roots and union membership and moved into the 30th district to face
Ognibene heir-apparent Dennis Gallagher. Gallagher, who has lived in the district most of
his life, has spent years as both a civic leader and chief operative to Ognibene and
Republican County chair Serf Maltese. He is a shrewd politician who seems to have quiet
support among some Dem insiders. The GOP could be shut out in Queens, however, if they
take only one seat, thisll be the one.
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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