SOHO POLITICS: The Political Shell Game.

We are on the precipice as the Primary is about to take place.

There are a few races that are meaningful for those of us in SoHo—the two City Council races for District 1 and District 3 affect us directly. And, of course, the Mayoral selection affects us indirectly. In a microcosm, the phrase “all politics is local” takes on new meaning.

The current numbers in the Mayoral race seem to indicate, endorsement of Quinn by all of the major newspapers notwithstanding, that Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson are in the lead. Of course, in this multi-headed horse race things could change very quickly.

Thompson is a good man and is as experienced and reliable as any City public servant, having been Comptroller. The numbers against Bloomberg in the last election were impressive. He can be expected to match those numbers and exceed them in this race, should he succeed in the Primary and in the run-off. We need a Democratic Mayor. We need to regain the emotional support of the people who live in our city. What we do not need is another Mayor who decides ‘what we need’ for us. And, he will pick up the phone when the community calls.

The two City Council races are clearer.

In the race between Margaret Chin and Jenifer Rajkumar, while both have the maturity to handle the needs of SoHo, only Rajkumar has spoken to the community. The issue of how many Community Board meetings were attended, although they were the responsibility of Chin as incumbent City Council member, is not paramount. What is most important, for SoHo and Downtown, is WHO is the audience that the City Council Member is paying attention to?

Chin has been more responsible to the needs and wants of the real estate industry, despite hopes that issues like affordable housing and the residents would be her primary concern. And, she supported the SoHo BID.

This is where Rajkumar and her seemingly inexhaustible energy has focused her attention. She has promised to listen to residents, not explain what she has already done, after the fact. The City Council Member for SoHo must listen. Rajkumar will do that. Give her the opportunity.

The race for District 3. which encompasses the western side of SoHo, pits Corey Johnson against Yetta Kurland. There is no incumbent since this is currently Quinn’s seat and she is term-limited out. Johnson is the Chair of Community Board #4 and Kurland is a Civil Rights attorney. Both are competent people.

We support Kurland, who is a completely independent and ferocious antagonist when she lobbies for the community’s interest. Her support for St. Vincents Hospital and opposition to the Rudin development—which took a hospital away from us—was nothing less than heroic. If you had attended some of those rallies you could never forget the energy and determination that she expressed.

That we did not keep the hospital was due only to the sub rosa collaboration among the elected officials who allowed a land grab to take place. Some residents were even driven to violence by this.* We need a firebrand, a champion of the residents in facing what seems like insurmountable odds. SoHo needs that kind of representation.

We support the candidacy of Scott Stringer for Comptroller. He has the energy and vision to be a successful representative of SoHo’s financial interests. As Borough President he has shown that he has a strong interest in affordable housing. And, he has done a great deal to reform the Community Boards, the entry-level for Democracy in our neighborhoods.

To follow in the footsteps of Stringer, we believe that Julie Menin knows best about the needs of our Community Boards. She was Chair of Board #1 for many years, and we believe that she will continue the process of reform. She is also aware of the needs of SoHo and has been actively involved with Sean Sweeney of the SoHo Alliance and Downtown Independent Democrats.

We support independent candidates who fight for residents, fight for rent-stabilized/controlled housing to maintain those who made SoHo the arts center of the world. Let us maintain the lives of those who created this vibrant community. And, get out and vote!

*Publisher George Capsis reportedly struck a few people including State Senator Brad Hoylman out of exasperation over the loss of the hospital. (Note: Hoylman supported the hospital in his role as Community Board Chair—and we unequivocally eschew any form of violence.

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