We note parenthetically the role of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in ensuring that the tragic need for a postponement of the primary elections and subsequent runoffs did not result in any voting on Jewish holidays. That the Democratic primary runoff was scheduled for October 11, a Thursday, rather than Tuesday, October 9, and offering alternate accommodations for those observing Succoth that day, is, in large measure, a tribute to his input as one of the three top decision-makers in Albany.
The two contenders for the Democratic nomination for Mayor of New York City in the October 11th primary election runoff are Mark Green and Fernando Ferrer. As we said last week, we urge those of our readers who are registered Democrats to vote for Mr. Green.
Of the two, Mark Green plainly seems more likely to build on the achievements of the Giuliani years. He is a staunch advocate of continuing the Giuliani, no-nonsense anti-crime policies. He has also come to represent the attitude that throwing money at problems is not the key to solving the City's problems. Standards, personal responsibility and self-help seem to be central to virtually all of his positions on the issues. And he invariably displays a refreshing openness when presented with new ideas.
We have long respected “Freddie” Ferrer for his support of the Jewish community in the Bronx even when there was no political benefit in it for him. The “Jewish vote” in the Bronx was never all that critical to his local electoral races. And he could be counted upon to lend his voice in support of the State of Israel. But, as we have noted in this space, we were appalled by the turn his mayoralty campaign took early on. He went to great lengths to offer himself as the champion of the “other New York,” which most of us correctly took as not signalling the inclusion of the Jewish community. Mr. Ferrer is of Puerto Rican descent, and we found it very troubling that he would directly appeal to voters on that basis. Further, in the last congressional elections, Mr. Ferrer went along with the effort to unseat the incumbent Eliot Engel as the Democratic candidate, in favor of a Black candidate. In retrospect, this emerges as having been the first salvo in the effort to forge the Black-Hispanic coalition which has stood Mr. Ferrer in such good stead in this election.
To make matters worse, when Mr. Green was well ahead in the polls and Mr. Ferrer, Alan Hevesi and Peter Vallone were collectively bringing up the rear, Mr. Ferrer was instantly catapulted to the top by the endorsement of Al Sharpton, with whom the Jewish community has had the most serious of problems. It is not a hyperbole to state that Mr. Ferrer owes his place in the runoff ? and all that goes with it ? to Sharpton. And this, together with his earlier patently racially divisive campaign, makes his candidacy untenable to us. Again, we hasten to underscore that it is not the Sharpton endorsement per se that troubles us. It is the political reality that Freddie Ferrer owes so much to Al Sharpton.
As to his stance on the issues, Mr. Ferrer seems to act as if the Giuliani revolution never happened. Unfortunately, in sum, we believe that should he become Mayor, much of the celebrated rebirth of our City would be reversed.
Betsy Gotbaum is our choice for Public Advocate. She is an experienced City Hall hand, having served in various capacities in New York City government. Ms. Gotbaum seems well versed in how the City works and can be counted on to know which buttons to push in order to fulfill her role as our ombudsman. We are confident that she is highly qualified and motivated to investigate complaints against government and take up the cudgels where appropriate to make sure that there is a level playing field between us and our government.
Ms. Gotbaum's opponent, Norman Siegel, despite his flair for the dramatic and notorious penchant for publicity, is really quite thoughtful and personable. Unfortunately, he has a view of the Public Advocate's office that is an outgrowth of his long career running the New York Civil Liberties Union. To be sure, many of the arguments he advanced for that group over the years were anathema to us. But our concern with his candidacy is not so much that he championed this or that position ? and we are convinced of his basic sincerity. What concerns us is that he has viscerally and programmatically looked to the courts to conform public policy to his view of the public weal. He inevitably evokes visions of the paradigmatic confrontation between decisions by duly elected officials and pronouncements by essentially unrepresentative judges.