The Race for Simcha's Seat
January 5th, 2010
Officially, Councilmember Simcha Felder is scheduled to be sworn into a third term tomorrow.
But how long that term will last is still unclear. This morning Comptroller John Liu announced the Brooklyn-bred councilmember would be joining his team at the comptroller’s office, taking the reins at a newly formed position — deputy comptroller for accounting and budget.
But now a few residents of the 44th district, which spans Borough Park and Midwood, are already scrambling to get their campaigns together. Three candidates are already reportedly getting ready to ramp up a race, including David Greenfield, the executive vice president of the Sephardic Community Federation, Judge Noach Dear, and Joe Lazar, the former director of fiscal affairs for the Department of Buildings.
“I am very exited that Simcha has a great opportunity,” said Greenfield, who cited education, jobs and senior services as his top priorities. “I’ve been preparing for this race since 2007, and I really believe I’m going to be the best advocate for the community.”
Reached this morning in Miami, Lazar said he would definitely run for the open seat. He said his experience at the buildings department and as the New York City regional director at the state Office of Mental Health would make him a great councilmember. Lazar, who at the age of 61 has never run for office before, plans on announcing formally when Councilmember Felder actually resigns.
“I have every intention of running,” said Lazar. “I figured I’d wait for the body to get cold. … I’ve got a varied background but my bottom line is really to help my constituents.”
Both Greenfield and Lazar had started to fundraise for a council run before the extension of term limits, and each has accumulated a good amount of cash — $180,477 and $116,534, respectively. Before term limits, Felder had voiced support for Greenfield.
Both Lazar and Greenfield dropped out of the race following the approval of the term limits extension, and they subsequently froze their campaign accounts to use at a later date (a move allowed by the Campaign Finance Board in light of the unusual circumstances surrounding term limits).
It is unclear now, however, whether Lazar and Greenfield will be able to use that cash now since they will potentially face off in a special election. A spokesperson at the board said they are looking into the issue currently, calling it “complicated.” Muddling things is the fact that contribution limits are halved in special elections.By Courtney Gross on January 5, 2010, 3:06 pm
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