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The Other Races

by Gotham Gazette Staff, Nov 02, 2009
 

It's not just the mayor's race on the ballot tomorrow. There are competitive contests in two other citywide posts and for the borough presidents.

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Public Advocate

In what most say is a contest already decided, frontrunner and Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio will face off against 26-year-old Republican Alex Zablocki, and three other third party candidates, in a race for public advocate.

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De Blasio has already bested former advocated Mark Green in a runoff in September and in an overwhelmingly Democratic city is expected to win tomorrow handily.

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De Blasio, who has served on the City Council since 2002 and headed up its general welfare committee, has made parental input at the Department of Education his major issue. If elected, he also says he would overhaul the Civilian Complaint Review Board, giving them independent prosecutorial power.

"The public advocate has to be deeply involved in making things better and the way to do that is working with a broad range of people, figure out a strategy and relentlessly pursue it," de Blasio told Gotham Gazette during the primary. "Through good times and bad that's the approach I'll be taking."

Zablocki, currently the district director for State Sen. Andrew Lanza, says he is the youngest candidate to ever run for public advocate. If elected, he said he would decentralize the office and set up a public advocate center in every borough. He wants to also increase parental involvement at city schools and would focus on transportation and traffic issues.

Zablocki, a native of Staten Island, said he would immediately call for a charter revision commission to put the comptroller as second in line to succeed the mayor instead of the public advocate.

"I want to use the tools of the office to do something a little bit diff, which is actually make the office work," Zablocki said.

The candidates have not debated publicly, because no on but de Blasio met the city Campaign Finance Board requirements. Zablocki has raised $17,072, while de Blasio has $1,877,259.

William J Lee, on the Conservative line, Maura Deluca on the Socialist Workers line, and Jim Lesczynski, a Libertarian, will also be on the ballot. None have raised any money for the race.

Comptroller

The third citywide race, for comptroller, also seems to have been largely decided on the day of the Democratic runoff when Queens Councilmember John Liu defeated Brooklyn Councilmember David Yassky. If he wins Tuesday, Liu, who was born in Taiwan, would become the first Asian elected to citywide office in New York,

In his campaign for to become the city's chief financial officer with responsibility for its employee pension funds, Liu has highlighted his experience in finance and on the City Council. He has called for the city's pension funds to rely more on conventional investment and less on what he has called "esoteric instruments."

"Let's get back to the basics and we can also reduce some of our fees, " he said in a recent debate.

Backed by many unions and the Working Families Party, Liu has said spending deductions alone cannot fill the city's multi-billion budget gap. "There is no way to simply cut ourselves out of this," he said at debate in October. "I would tax the highest paid residents of this city."

In that debate, Liu faced off against Salim Ejaz, the candidate of the Rent is Too Damn High Party. Ejaz was the only candidate other than Liu to raise enough money for the debate -- even though the leader of his party Jimmy McMillan has reportedly endorsed Liu.

During the debate, Ejaz argued forcefully again cutting pensions for city workers. "Do not play with the pension fund of the people," he said. "It's their sweat and blood." H has decried the special interests and what he sees as the incompetence of government and pledged not to raise taxes on working people.

Liu's Republican opponent, Joseph Mendola, did not raise enough money to qualify for the debate but said he continues to campaign, making appearances across the city. He has focused on management of city pension funds, saying the funds have underperformed, forcing the city to pay in more money.

Mendola has been philosophical about his lack of support from his party and from the person at the top of its ticket, Michael Bloomberg. Earlier in the campaign, Bloomberg said he did not even know who the GOP candidates for comptroller or public advocate were. (Mendola said the mayor does know him.)

"He has not helped my cause," Mendola said, adding "there is a lot about him I admire."

The Conservative Party standard-bearer Stuart Avrick sees his candidacy for comptroller as a kind of penance. "When you're a member of the party for 40 years you have to do it," he said. The Conservatives decided to run their own candidate, Avrick said, because they thought none of the other parties' candidate was qualified.

Libertarian John Clifton also will appear on the ballot.

Liu has raised $3.7 million in private funds and almost $1.4 million in private matching funds, allowing him to spend almost $5 million on his campaign. In contract, Ejaz has raised less than $60,000 -- though spent almost $648,000. He in turn dwarfs the other three. Mendola has raised almost $21,000 and neither Avrick or Clifton are listed as having raised anything.

Borough Contests

All five borough presidents face re-election this year. None of the races have generated a lot of coverage, but the one that seem to have attracted the most attention is on Staten Island where two-term incumbent, Republican Conservative James Molinaro, faces a challenger from John Luisi, running on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines. Luisi ran unsuccessfully against Molinaro four years ago.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani have campaigned on Molinaro's behalf.

Molinaro has raised almost $242,000 in private funds, compared to almost $97,000 for Luisi.

In Manhattan, one-term incumbent Scott Stringer will face Republican David Casavis and Socialist Worker Party candidate Tom Bauman. In the Bronx, Ruben Diaz Jr., who became borough president after winning a special election earlier this year, faces Republican Allison Oldak. Brooklyn's Marty Markowitz, a two-term incumbent who was exploring a run for mayor before the extension of term limits, is opposed by Republican/Conservative Marc D'Ottavio and Libertarian Michael Sanchez, while over in Queens, Republican Robert Hornak and Democrat Richard Latin are seeking to unseat two-term incumbent Helen Marshall.

All the incumbents are viewed as heavy favorites but that has not stopped them from raising money. Stringer, for example, collected almost $1.7 million in private contributions, even though Bauman has not raised any money and Casavis has raised only $3,348, Markowitz took in more than $1.7 million in donation, while his GOP opponent had $5,168 and the Libertarian had apparently not raised anything.

Diaz and Marshall were more modest in their fundraising, both collecting under $200,000.

In the Manhattan district attorney race, Richard Aborn will appear on the Working Families Party line but gave up his race after losing to Cyrus Vance Jr. in the Democratic primary. No other candidate is running.

The other district attorney up for election this year, Brooklyn's Charles Hynes, is unopposed.

Virtually every City Council member has at least nominal -- ad often only nominal -- opposition. To check on the race in your district, see Who's Running for What.

Ballot Questions

New Yorkers will be confronted with two ballot questions at the polls tomorrow. One allows National Grid and the state to swap 43 acres of land to make way for a 23-mile power line in St. Lawrence County.

The other would allow the State Legislature to approvelegislation that would allow individuals incarcerated at state prisons or city jails to volunteer at nonprofits. Currently the state Constitution prohibits work done by inmates to be farmed out to any private entity. If approved and the legislature subsequently approved legislation, inmates could volunteer at local nonprofits.

Judgeships

A number of judicial races also will be on the ballot. In several, candidates are unopposed.

In the contested races, Democrat Lucy Billings faces Republican Sherilyn Dandridge for a Supreme Court seat in Manhattan's first judicial district in Manhattan. Billings has served as an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union and Legal Services, while Dandridge has had her own law practice. The Bar Association of the City of New York approved Billing but did not approve Dandridge. The association does not provide reasons for or details on its ratings.

Five candidates are vying for three Supreme Court judgeships in the Bronx's 12th judicial district. They are: Democrat Lucindo Suarez and Democrat/Conservative Kenneth Thompson, who both are already on the court; John H. Wilson, who has served as a civil court judge; Democrat Sharon A.M. Aarons, also a Civil Court judge; and Conservative Loraine Corsa. In this race, Suarez, Thompson and Wilson were approved by the bar association; Aarons and Corsa were not.

Four candidates are running for two Civil Court seats in the Bronx. They are: Democrat Ruben Franco, a practicing lawyer for 25 years; Republican/Conservative Marcos Pagan III; Democrat Stanley Green, who is already on the court; and Republican/Conservative Charles Taibi. The Bar Association gave an "approved" to Franco and Green but not to Pagan and Taibi.

The boroughwide Brooklyn contest for Civil Court pits Democrat Reginald Boddie, a lawyer who has worked for Legal Aid and been in private practice, against Republican/Conservative Vincent Martusciello. Boddie was approved by the bar association; Martusciello was not approved.

Democrat Rachel Amy Adams, who has served on the Civil Court and at one time worked for Justice Gerald Garson, who was convicted of taking bribes, is running against Republican/Conservative Phillip Smallman for Civil Court judge from Brooklyn's fifth district. The bar association rated both "approved."

In Queens, voters will have to select to select three judges from a field of six running for the Supreme Court from the 11th judicial district. On the ballot are: Democrat Thomas Raffaele, a Civil Court judge; Republican/ Conservative Robert Beltrani; Democrat Dicci Pineda-Kirwan, a Civil Court judge who says she is the first female, Dominican-born judge in the state; Republican/Conservative John Casey, a former parole officer who now serves as an administrative law judge; Democrat Daniel Lewis, who currently sits on the Supreme Court; and Republican Joseph Kasper, a South Ozone Park attorney. Of the six, only Lewis and Raffaele were approved by the bar association.


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