Thursday, October 29, 2009

Politics Unusual: Mayoral Race, Showdowns in 30th and 32nd City Council Districts

By Patricia Adams

In the world of politics it seems that history never fails to repeat. The week before elections inevitably brings the mudslinging, chaotic frenzy known as a campaign. Candidates spar in debates; political mailings clog the mailboxes of registered voters; lawn signs and banners are dragged off and shredded by those on opposing sides, and the final plans are laid down for Election Day.

Endorsements are “displayed” like merit badges while the media searches for a special type of Halloween skeleton—those hanging in the closets of candidates. If you put aside all these campaign “tactics”—which leave a slew of nasty little droppings in their wake— you will see the issues clearly and make informed decisions.

In our readership area, three very important races will be decided on Tuesday night— the mayoral race between Mike Bloomberg and Bill Thompson, the City Council race in the 30th District between Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Crowley and Republican Tom Ognibene and the 32nd Council race between incumbent Republican Eric Ulrich and Democrat Frank Gulluscio.

Let’s start by looking at the mayor’s race. I am tired of hearing about term limits and campaign spending. I’m even more tired of hearing people saying they won’t vote for him just on principles. To those people I say what kind of principle do you have if you are voting for an obviously lesser qualified candidate.

This city faces the most difficult and chal- lenging times we have ever faced. Mike Bloomberg, without doubt, has been facing challenges since he began serving this city after 9/11. There have been some rough spots along the way but at this juncture in the road New York City is doing far better than many other major cities in America. Unemployment is lower, foreclosure rates are lower, crime is lower, schools are better, vital services have been preserved. There have been no layoffs in the NYPD, FDNY or among teachers. These are indisputable statistics. They are based on fact.

We have not always agreed with the mayor and have been quick to point out where we thought he was headed in the wrong direction. But there is a far more important wrong direction to think about here--that one would be following behind Mr. Thompson.

Thompson does not have the experience or the tenacity to run the greatest city in the world in the best of times—the consequence of handing over the city to him in these times is a harrowing prospect. He did not do a great job at the Board of Ed and he’s at best a competent comptroller. He has spent his time on the campaign trail like a human ticker tape, counting Bloomberg’s expenditures and ranting about term limits, while failing to address any concrete plans for sustaining our city.

You don’t have to like Mike Bloomberg. But you do have to recognize what he has done to keep New York running efficiently while on an increasingly turbulent course. There is no one without flaw, political or otherwise. Michael Bloomberg is no exception. But so many things outweigh the negative side of Bloomberg. He is the only candidate in this race with the experience, skill and determination deserving of your vote.

Next up is the Council race in the 30th District which has Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Crowley pitted against former Republican Councilmember Tom Ognibene. Since the challenger has held the seat in the past, this is one contest where a Republican candidate has a shot at regaining the seat.

Crowley’s focus since taking office has been healthcare, the environment, public safety, and education. Her campaign has focused on describing Ognibene as out of touch with the district. In response Ognibene has delivered responses punctuated with criticism for what he says is the lack of tangible progress during Crowley’s tenure.

This race could be fairly close however, we feel that Ognibene should return to his former seat. The district is in need of some conservative “nuts and bolts” policy and service delivery much more likely to be delivered by far more experienced and able Ognibene.

Finally in the 32nd District where Republican incumbent Eric Ulrich faces a challenge from Democrat Frank Gulluscio, we come to the race with our most interesting perspective. You may even recall that during the special election for this seat back in February, we unconventionally endorsed Frank Gulluscio despite the fact that he was eliminated from the ballot because of flaws within his petition process.

But in the seven months since that election, we have watched a very energetic and determined Ulrich take on the role of councilman. Gulluscio has made a focus throughout his campaign on the fact that Ulrich is young, even insinuating immaturity, but we feel that this youth is both refreshing and promising. It is not something voters should be afraid of. No, no, youth is not wasted on Ulrich.

Frank Gulluscio is undeniably a presence in the district he seeks to represent. He knows the area having lived here for more than 30 years and has strong community ties. He has experience as a civic activist, former aide to Joe Addabbo when he was the area councilmember, educator, businessman and most recently District Manager of CB 6. There’s no doubt that Frank is well in- formed and has been around way long enough to know what’s going on.

Ulrich has demonstrated the ability to get things done in this district in the very short time since he was elected. He shows an incredible ability to speak, both publically and on an individual basis to a very diverse community that he serves. Ulrich is informed, quick, always prepared and accommodating to his constituents.

An endorsement in this race was up in the air for quite some time, and the decision was a difficult one. The reason for that is that we are fortunate enough in this district to not have to choose a candidate that is the lesser of two evils. Both men have displayed an earnest interest in representing this district.

But one man has proven, through words and actions and ability, that he is the right choice. That candidate is Eric Ulrich.

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