Yesterday I shared the identities of three candidates I’m supporting in next Tuesday’s Democratic primary. (It has since come to my attention that because Brad Lander is running unopposed, his spot won’t appear on the ballot, but still.)
Now for the two highest positions in our city’s government.
For Public Advocate: Letitia “Tish” James
Like the mayoral race, this is a crowded field, but at least as far as livable streets are concerned, Ms. James is the clear choice. In April, she held an emergency session regarding the placement of Citi Bike stations in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. It was a good move to let her constituents air their grievances – even if their views were way past due, misguided, and occasionally vitriolic. We haven’t heard much from those naysayers since.
Although I did take exception to a few of the things she said off the cuff at that meeting, Ms. James has been a strong supporter of the program and of livable streets in general. For instance, she was the only candidate to show up at the early-August rally at City Hall (which I also attended). If we’re lucky enough to have a transit-oriented mayor, Ms. James will complete a great one-two combination.
She’s also taken tenacious stands in defense of the bullied on other difficult issues: stop-and-frisk; the Forest City Ratner development at Atlantic Yards; affordable housing.
The Public Advocate needs the courage to embrace politically unpopular battles on behalf of Joe New Yorker. I have no doubts that Ms. James is up to the task.
For Mayor: Bill de Blasio
It would be great if there were one strong candidate in this year’s mayoral race. I’m jealous of New Jersey’s recent Democratic primary to fill Frank Lautenberg’s Senate seat. Voters there had four.
Unfortunately, the candidate with the best ideas received the Jon Huntsman treatment. Sal Albanese, a former council member from Bay Ridge, offered common-sense proposals for livable streets and education, among other things. But he never gained any traction in the polls, and was pushed out of a big debate – possibly so that the by-then-disgraced-once-more Anthony Weiner could join. It was a banishment so callous even the Times weighed in.
Beyond that, it’s a choice of the least of all evils.
John C. Liu, the current Comptroller, can’t get his own campaign’s finances in order, and appears clueless on most everything. You can just look at his stance on the Prospect Park West bike lane for evidence.
Bill Thompson‘s transportation plan favors cars over people. Enough said there, for me: our poor neighborhoods need better transit options and localized development, and our downtown needs congestion pricing. (Disclaimer: I voted for Mr. Thompson in 2009, but only because I was still angered by Mayor Bloomberg’s third-term hubris.)
And putting aside her ridiculous 25-mile-long, winding-through-two-cemeteries outer-borough Select Bus Service proposal, a Christine Quinn administration would be a disaster for this city. New York already has the highest level of inequality in the nation, and Ms. Quinn is known to be currying favor with developers. (Again, I point you to ZIPPER to see how that game screws over the little people.)
I’d love to see a mayor who is female or gay or both. But that’s not reason enough to vote for Ms. Quinn.
As Council Speaker, Ms. Quinn had eight years to push for the legislation her campaign now suddenly supports. Why are these ideas coming to light now? Perhaps out of fear of retribution, which led her to orchestrate the suspension of term limits in 2008 – a move which might be coming back to haunt her now, thankfully. Perhaps even more so than the public advocate, our mayor needs the spine to stand up to the greed and the power-hunger rampant in our city. Ms. Quinn’s record belies her pitch.
That leaves Mr. de Blasio, who during his four-year stint as Public Advocate has been accused of advocating less for the people of New York than for his own political future. For example, instead of pushing for better non-car infrastructure, he met privately with Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes “to discuss bike strategy”.
He’s since made some promises relating to safe streets that won him the endorsement of StreetsPAC, and done some good work bringing attention to the Long Island College Hospital scandal. (Part of me wonders if he would have offered the same responses in an off year.) His campaign theme speaks of “two cities” separated by a gulf of wealth, and his desire to make that rift disappear. A noble goal, much deeper will than any of the other leading candidates have shown.
I could take the principled stand and vote for Mr. Albanese, sure, but I’d prefer to help Mr. de Blasio rack up 40% of the vote to avoid a run-off.