View of Local Politics in SoHo

A current view of the state of local politics in SoHo. From the SoHo Alliance comes the opinion of Director Sean Sweeney as we head to the polls in November:

- Chin v. Marte Part 2
After two weeks of counting absentee and paper ballots, Margaret Chin squeaked to a narrow victory over Chris Marte, 45.8% to 43.9%, less than a 2% margin.  Two other opponents of Chin siphoned the remaining 10.3% of the anit-Chin vote, drawing votes from Marte that would surely have put him over the top. 
 
With 11,719 votes cast, Marte was only 220 votes shy of victory.  Chin's "victory" is the worst showing of any incumbent in the city.  Over 54% of the voters – the majority – rejected Chin.   But that is not the end of the story.  
 
By the oddest fortuitous fluke, six people wrote-in Marte's name on the Independence Party line and five wrote-in Chin's.  
 
Without campaigning for it, Chris Marte has secured the Independence Party line in the general election on November 7.  We now have a second chance to choose between Marte and Chin. 
 
Marte's name will be down the ballot under the Independence line, while Chin is running on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.  There will also be Republican and Liberal Party candiates.  
 
As we have often said, the SoHo Alliance is non-partisan.  If the choice is between Marte who wants to save Elizabeth Street Garden and Chin who wants to destroy it, between Marte who takes no money from real estate developers and Chin who is beholden to them, between a community activist and a hack politician who has lied to us repeatedly, the choice is clear and party affiliations should not matter, 
 
In fact, our neighbors and allies in the Downtown Independent Democrats have endorsed Marte and are urging us to vote for him on the Independence Party line on November 7.  
 
People ask the viability of Marte's challenge.  In 2005, a Brooklyn city council candidate, Letitia James, running on the Working Families Party line, beat out her Democratic Party challenger.  She is now public advocate.  
 
So Marte will face a challenge, but not an impossibility.  Pundits thought he had no chance of coming so close to Chin in the Primary and they were all proved wrong.  Vote for SoHo and the Elizabeth Street Garden on November 7,
 


- SoHo's Next State Senator Picked by Two Party Bosses in the Backroom of Junior's Cheesecake Restaurant  – How Cheesy Is That?
In August our state senator Daniel Squadron abruptly resigned from office, too late to have the voters choose his replacement in the September 12 Primary.
 
The legal process to select his temporary replacement is a mechanism called the Local Democratic County Committee, which is composed of over 100 local activists and block captains, our neighbors. Their task is to choose a replacement until the actual voters have a chance to vote in the next state senate election cycle in 2018.
 
On September 17 activists from SoHo, TriBeCa, Downtown, and the Lower East Side assembled to select a replacement for Squadron. There were two leading candidates. 
 
One was Paul Newell, a reformer from the Lower East Side, who had the courage of his convictions to run against Sheldon Silver in 2008, when Silver was at the height of his power.  Newell is  district leader out of Downtown Independent Democrats.
 
The other was Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who currently represents the east side from East 43rd Street down to Houston Street.  He happens to be Squadron's roommate in Albany and privy to his roommate's plans.  Kavanagh had resided in midtown for years.  
 
However, when it became apparent that Squadron wanted out of Albany, Kavanagh moved from midtown to Avenue C and East 2 Street, which was just one of three blocks that happened to overlap Kavanagh's assembly district as well as Squadron's senate district.  
 
Thus Kavanagh could run for Squadron's senate seat, but, were he to lose, would still retain his place in the assembly.  To say this is a cynical scheme between Squadron and Kavanagh is being kind.
 
Anyway, at the Local County Committee meeting our grassroots activists voted overwhelmingly for Newell – 72%.
 
However, the senate district is bi-borough. That is, 2/3 is in lower Manhattan and 1/3 is in northern Brooklyn.  
 
The Brooklyn Democratic Party boss, Frank Seddio, who was forced to resign seveal years ago from a judgeship because of ethics violations. did not want a reformer in the senate.  So he exercised his perogative not to allow the Brooklyn County Committee to vote on whom the Brooklyn grassroots wished to represent them.
 
On September 18, Seddio met with Manhattan County Democratic leader, Keiith Wright, a lobbyist, at Junior's Restaurant in Brooklyn. Wright also did not want a reformer.
 
In a deal in the backromm of the cheesecake restaurant, Wright ignored the wishes of his Local County Committee (which, unfortunately, he can legally do).  
 
He and Seddio instead agreed to select Kavanagh to be on the Democratic Party line in the November 7 General Election, ignoring the wishes of the rank-and-file. 
 
It is sad that two self-procalimed reformers, Squsadron and Kavanagh, were parties to this sleazy scenario.  Kavanagh is a decent guy but his rise to the senate will be forever tainted.
 
However, rather than being discouraged, these events have embolded the grassroots in Manhattan.  
 
A move was soon put forward to remove Wright from his leadership position.  The full Manhattan County Committee of some thousand indiividuals is now scheduled to meet later this year to vote whether to remove Wright, due to the conflict of interest his lobbying job creates.  Stay tuned.  
 
 

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