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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
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Jewish Press Endorsements

We urge every eligible voter to go to the polls on November 5. Elected officials tend to pay attention to those who take the time to vote.

Mayor

The Jewish Press endorses Bill de Blasio for mayor of New York City. Since his decisive victory in the Democratic primary in September, Mr. de Blasio has eased many of the concerns that induced us to back Bill Thompson in that contest.

We have long admired Mr. de Blasio for his quick mind, signature open-mindedness and profound sensitivity to the plight of New Yorkers of all backgrounds and stations in life. We were particularly taken with his understanding of our community’s religious needs and the need for their reasonable accommodation.

Indeed, The Jewish Press enthusiastically supported him in his past races for City Council and public advocate. But all the talk of New York as a “tale of two cities” and of “taxing the rich” to pay for ever-increasing spending made us wary. It also obscured some of the important, practical things he was saying about the city having to pay its bills and prudently prepare to face a looming fiscal crisis.

On such core social issues as abortion, same-sex marriage and “stop and frisk,” Mr. de Blasio’s positions hardly differ from those of his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota – as Mr. Lhota himself acknowledged in his campaign commercials. Of course, they are two very different people with differing ideological approaches. Yet the practical problems that come with running a city like New York do not allow for many radically different options. And so, to take one issue as an example, it seems inconceivable that a Mayor de Blasio would be indifferent to any increases in crime, as some have claimed.

Joe Lhota has served the public well as MTA chairman and before that as Rudy Giuliani’s budget director and deputy mayor. But he never really connected with the voters and made his case. Mr. de Blasio, on the other hand, has connected – big time – as evidenced by the lopsided polls in his favor. He is likely headed for a historic victory on November 5 and will have an unusual mandate to lead the city.

Bill de Blasio has the intelligence, compassion and innate good sense to be a great mayor and take our city to new heights. The Jewish Press calls on its readers to vote for him on November 5.

Comptroller

The Jewish Press endorses Scott M. Stringer for comptroller. He is admirably suited for the office by dint of experience and demeanor. One of the major responsibilities of the comptroller is the overall management of the five municipal-worker union pension funds with combined assets of approximately $141 billion. As Manhattan borough president Mr. Stringer has served as a trustee for the largest of those funds and gained important experience and insight.

Given the need to regularly interact with the boards of each of the pension funds, being able to work collegially with them is key. Mr. Stringer’s background makes him ideally suited for the task. As a six-term state assemblyman and eight-year Manhattan borough president, he earned a reputation for fostering cooperation with his colleagues in government and for effective and savvy management.

Another major responsibility of the comptroller is the auditing, vetting and investigating of virtually anything involving government spending. Here again, a cooperative spirit among the comptroller, the mayor, and other public officials is essential, with clear understanding as to where the jurisdictional red lines lie.

Mr. Stringer’s credentials readily recommend themselves.

Brooklyn District Attorney

The Jewish Press urges the reelection of Charles J. Hynes as Brooklyn district attorney. Mr. Hynes is a 24-year veteran as Brooklyn DA and has more than earned being returned to office. Over the years he has transformed the reputation of the office to where it is now the first choice of many of the most talented young lawyers seeking work in law enforcement. He also built a staff of more than 500 lawyers, which rivals the size of many of the country’s largest law firms. Overseeing its work is a mammoth responsibility and management experience is crucial.

Most important, during his period in office he has initiated alternative approaches to crime prevention, such as rehabilitation programs without incarceration, that have achieved remarkable results in combating recidivism.

He has also attempted to work closely with Brooklyn’s diverse groups, including the Orthodox, in a cooperative effort to bring down crime rates. This has involved taking into account the differing social dynamics of the various communities in an effort to maximize effectiveness of investigation and prosecution. The approach reflects a hard-nosed assessment about what it takes to enforce the law in manifestly different circumstances across the borough.

Mr. Hynes’s opponent, Ken Thompson, brings much to the table: he has many good ideas and has had important crime fighting experience as an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, but he is relatively young and his time will come. For now, Mr. Hynes deserves reelection both in terms of hakoras hatov for what he has done for Brooklyn and the Jewish community, and for the experience and accumulated wisdom he will bring to the next four years as Brooklyn’s chief prosecutor.

NY City Council

23rd District in Queens (Hollis Hills, Queens Village, Little Neck, Douglaston, Bayside, Bellerose, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park, Hollis, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Fresh Meadows and Oakland Gardens)

The Jewish Press endorses Mark Weprin, who has served on the Council since 2010 and before that in the New York State Assembly for 15 years. He has shown a keen interest in criminal law and legislation affecting the aging. He has been a stalwart on issues of direct concern to the Jewish community. We urge his reelection.

24th District in Queens (Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Hillcrest Estates, Jamaica Hills, Utopia Estates, parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica and Rego Park)

The Jewish Press endorses Rory Lancman to succeed the term-limited James Gennaro in the 24th district. While in the New York State Assembly, Mr. Lancman expressed strong support for legislation requiring reasonable accommodation of religious needs in employment and in such relatively new problem areas as the public display of mezuzahs and the construction of sukkas – and has represented, as an attorney, individuals who faced these and related problems.

44th District in Brooklyn (Bensonhurst, Boro Park, Flatbush)

The Jewish Press supports David Greenfield in the 44th district. In the three and a half years since his election to the Council, Mr. Greenfield, in addition to trying to address the needs of all his constituents, has emerged as a major spokesman on a broad range of issues of particular concern to the Jewish community. He is respected by his colleagues for his mastery of the New York City budgetary process and has developed a reputation as a serious legislator seeking real solutions to real problems.

46th District in Brooklyn (Bergen Beach, Canarsie, Mill Basin and Sheepshead Bay)

The Jewish Press supports Alan Maisel in the 46th district to succeed the term limited Lew Fidler. He shares many of our community’s concerns and brings impressive credentials to the race. Since 2006 he has been a member of the New York State Assembly and has served as chief of staff to former assemblyman and now Brooklyn Democratic County leader Frank Seddio and as administrative assistant to former congressman and now U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

47th District in Brooklyn (Coney Island, Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst)

The Jewish Press urges voters in the 47th district to vote for Mark Treyger to succeed the term-limited Domenic Recchia, Jr. Mr. Treyger is a civics teacher at New Utrecht High School and a Bensonhurst-based political activist with an abiding interest in the governmental process. He impresses with his enthusiasm for harnessing that process to solve society’s problems.

48th District in Brooklyn (Brighton Beach, Seagate, Gravesend, Mill Basin and Sheepshead Bay)

The Jewish Press endorses Chaim Deutsch in the 48th district to succeed the term-limited Mike Nelson. Mr. Deutsch has long been a fixture in Brooklyn as the go-to person for those in need of help with government officials and agencies, including, importantly, law enforcement. He has been indefatigable in this regard, making himself available at all hours of the day and night. His positive contributions to the everyday lives of countless Brooklynites have been immense.

He has served with great distinction as a senior aide to Councilman Nelson and he is also a founding member of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol, which started from humble beginnings but now boasts 50 volunteers, a 24-hour hotline, portable radios, immediate response teams and a state-of-the-art mobile command center.

We have no doubt that if elected, Mr. Deutsch will give new meaning to the phrase “constituent services.” He is running on the Democratic line but his record of assisting as many of his fellow citizens as possible should persuade those who have ideological issues with the Democratic Party to ignore party labels.

Nassau County Executive

The Jewish Press urges voters in Nassau County to vote for Tom Suozzi. Mr. Suozzi was elected county executive in 2001 and was widely credited with rescuing Nassau County from looming bankruptcy following years of unchecked borrowing and spending. Now Nassau County is again in dire financial straits and Mr. Suozzi seems to offer a well-thought out plan for addressing the problems, while the incumbent, Edward Mangano, on whose watch the difficulties developed, does not.

Referendum

Proposition 6: Raising Mandatory Retirement Age For Judges

We urge New Yorkers to vote in favor of Proposition 6, which would amend the New York State Constitution to allow judges on the State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to serve until age 80. Currently the constitution sets 70 as the retirement age but allows for three 2-year waivers, effectively setting the retirement age at 76. For each waiver, Supreme Court judges have to go through a certification process requiring court administrators to determine whether the particular jurist is physically and mentally competent to perform judicial duties.

Proposition 6 would permit five 2-year waivers, which would mean that for the most part those judges could remain on the bench until age 80. Depending on when their term ends, Court of Appeals judges could serve until age 80 but would not be subject to the current waiver and recertification procedure. The 70-year retirement age was set in 1869, when the average life expectancy was 40.

Opponents of the measure argue that increasing the age limit would stifle efforts to diversify the courts. While we think some sort of certification process should be in place for Court of Appeals judges, we also believe that, overall, the merit of the change is compelling. An arbitrary cutoff of service means New York would lose the services of proven, experienced and well-qualified veterans of the court system.

Vote Yes on Proposition 6.

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