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Sept. 10 New York City Primary Endorsements (Part 1)


Mayor

In the Democratic primary for mayor of New York, The Jewish Press endorses William C. Thompson. He seems the most promising candidate in terms of being able to tackle the fundamental problem facing our city in the coming four years – how to do more with considerably fewer resources.

Among his competitors there are some who talk as if there is no looming financial crisis and who focus not on how to cut the city’s budget, which is already way too large, but on locating new sources of revenue to pay for even greater expenditures designed to spread government largesse more widely.

Some tout their prowess in navigating the political shoals of the very complex social and political entity that is New York City. But every mayor hires the best staff he or she can find to meet that challenge. To be sure, a successful chief executive must provide vision, but competent advisers and aides are needed to implement that vision.

Indeed, having a chief executive who is taken with his or her own ability to micromanage day-to-day tasks better left to experts is a prescription for failure.

Not that Bill Thompson has to take a back seat to any of his opponents in the experience department. He has successfully served as Brooklyn deputy borough president, as president of the old New York City Board of Education, and as New York City comptroller. He is at least as knowledgeable as any of his opponents concerning the ins and outs of big-city governance.

The popular image of the successful mayor of a large modern city is that of an authoritarian figure giving orders that subordinates had better follow. But the truly successful mayors have been those who combined no-nonsense leadership and vision with the ability to persuade, encourage and motivate. And it is this regard that Bill Thompson stands head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates.

He has spoken persuasively of the direction in which he would like to take the city. But we are equally impressed with his calm demeanor, deliberative style and self-deprecating humor – all of which make him particularly well suited for taking on, among other pressing issues, contract negotiations with municipal unions that Mayor Bloomberg has deferred for years. If the next mayor cannot persuade the unions to make substantial concessions, economic chaos will follow.

Frankly, Mr. Thompson has disappointed us on the matter of the NYPD’s stop and frisk program. At the start of the current campaign he was the first to talk about retaining stop and frisk while tweaking it to address the concerns of some that it was unnecessarily intrusive and arbitrary. But he seems to have been carried along by some of his opponents and is now supporting more substantial changes in the policy.

All in all, though, Bill Thompson appears to us to be the Democratic candidate most likely to successfully lead New York in the coming years.

Comptroller

The Jewish Press endorses Scott Stringer for comptroller. When one considers the responsibilities the job entails, it becomes readily apparent that the case for Mr. Stringer over his opponent, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, is compelling.

One of the comptroller’s major responsibilities is the overall management of five municipal-worker union pension funds with combined assets of approximately $141 billion. Each of the funds is ostensibly run independently by its own board of trustees, who determine investment strategies. The comptroller, however, coordinates the work of the five boards and has substantial input into their decision-making. And as Manhattan borough president Mr. Stringer has served as a trustee for the largest of those funds, thereby gaining important experience and insight.

Clearly, being able to work collegially with the trustees 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 effective and savvy management and for fostering cooperation with his colleagues in government.

Another major responsibility of the comptroller’s office 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. Otherwise, the potential for gridlock looms large. And Mr. Stringer’s credentials readily commend themselves.

On the other hand, given the reputation Mr. Spitzer earned as attorney general and governor – he viewed his role in both capacities as that of a “steamroller” – it is hard to imagine a more unlikely fit for the office of comptroller.

Further, Mr. Spitzer told The New York Times that if elected comptroller he would look to become “the primary voice of urban policy – what works and what doesn’t work. It’s understanding that the audit power of the office is not just to figure out how may paper clips were brought and delivered, but to be the smartest, most thoughtful voice on a policy level.”

We are rather certain that Mr. Spitzer views the comptroller’s office as a stepping stone to higher office. The temptation to reprise his role as steamroller would be irresistible. But New York cannot afford the luxury of more than one mayor at a time or, for that matter, constant battles with pension trustees.

Scott Stringer is the clear choice for comptroller.

Brooklyn District Attorney

The Jewish Press endorses Charles J. Hynes for 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 the most talented young lawyers seeking work in law enforcement. He has also built a staff of more than 500 lawyers, which rivals the size of many of the country’s largest law firms.

Significantly, Mr. Hynes has also fostered a work ethic and a level of professionalism in the office that have contributed mightily to the steadily decreasing crime rate in Brooklyn.

A key innovation has been his broad effort to work with the borough’s varied communities, including the Orthodox, in a cooperative effort to bring down crime rates. This has been somewhat misunderstood and derided by some, including his opponent, as preferential treatment when it has involved the issue of prosecuting sex abusers in the chassidic community. But in reality it has always represented a hard-nosed assessment about what it takes to effectively enforce the law in manifestly different circumstances across the borough.

It strikes us as ironic that the approach he has taken in this regard was actually designed to maximize the impact of efforts to address these crimes, and yet he has been criticized for it.

Mr. Hynes has also pioneered alternative approaches to crime prevention such as rehabilitation programs without incarceration. And they have brought remarkable results in combating recidivism.

Charles Hynes has figured out what it takes to effectively fight crime. He is a community asset who should be retained as Brooklyn district attorney.

City Council

 35th Council District in Brooklyn

(Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant)

In the 35th City Council District in Brooklyn The Jewish Press endorses Olanike Alabi in the Democratic Primary to replace the term-limited Letitia James. Ms. Alabi is a well-known and respected advocate for housing and other quality of life issues in the area. During her recent visit to The Jewish Press she displayed a deep knowledge of the pressing problems facing the 35th  district that will have to be faced in the coming years. Her passion for resolving is impressive as is her knowledge of how the council works. She has earned the strong support of the Jewish community in Crown Heights. We urge Democratic voters to come out and vote for Olanike Alabi on September 10.

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

The Jewish Press endorses Assemblyman Alan Maisel to succeed the term-limited Lew Fidler. Mr. Maisel is a fitting successor to Councilman Fidler and shares many of our community’s concerns, as indicated in his distinguished career in the New York State Assembly.

 

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

The Jewish Press endorses Mark Treyger to succeed the term-limited Domenic Recchia Jr. Mr. Treyger is a civics teacher at New Utrecht High School and a Bensonhurst political activist with an abiding interest in the governmental process.

 

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

The Jewish Press endorses Chaim Deutsch to succeed the term-limited Mike Nelson. Chaim 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. His contributions to the everyday lives of countless Brooklynites have been immense.

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

We have no doubt that if elected, Chaim Deutsch will give new meaning to the phrase “constituent services.”

Borough Presidents

The Bronx

For Bronx Borough President The Jewish Press endorses the incumbent Ruben Diaz, Jr. who was elected in April 2009 in a special election following President Obama’s appointment of Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. to the position of Director of the White House Office on Urban Affairs. A former NYS Assemblyman, Diaz pursued a broad agenda of issues there including health care, insurance fraud, pedestrian safety, school bus safety and accountability of gas and electric companies, in which he continues to show interest. He has been a model borough president and should certainly be permitted to run for reelection in the November general election.

Queens

In the race for Borough President of Queens, The Jewish Press endorses Peter Vallone, Jr., currently a member of the NYC Council representing the 22nd Council District. Mr. Vallone has distinguished himself as a strong advocate for public safety. He has led efforts in the City Council to increase the number of police officers and fought against efforts to cut the NYPD budget. He also wrote the law placing security cameras in all NYC public schools and was a sponsor of a bill to require the NYC Department of Education to assist nonpublic schools with their security problems. He has been a strong advocate of the value of a vigorous stop and frisk policy as a law enforcement tool but also does not oppose efforts to ensure that it is implemented in a legal and courteous manner. As Borough President of Queens, he will have an even stronger voice to pursue his all-important signature issue of public safety.

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