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

Last week we expressed our support for William C. Thompson in the Democratic mayoral primary, Scott Stringer for comptroller, and Charles J. Hynes for Brooklyn district attorney. For City Council we endorsed Alan Maisel (46th District, Brooklyn), Mark Treyger (47th District, Brooklyn) and Chaim Deutsch (48th District, Brooklyn).

Here are more of our choices:

Mayor, Republican Primary

In the Republican mayoral primary, Joe Lhota is our choice over his closest rival, John Catsimatidis. Mr. Catsimatidis is a passionate advocate and his desire to change the city for the better seems quite genuine. He is also a wildly successful businessman, presiding over an empire measured in the billions. But his governmental experience is nil and New Yorkers can hardly afford a mayor in need of on the job training.

Mr. Lhota, on the other hand, is the quintessential municipal government technician with broad experience in the nitty gritty of large bore municipal government, having served under Rudy Giuliani as budget director, finance commissioner and deputy mayor of operations.

Thus, Mr. Lhota managed a city operating budget of $36 billion, oversaw a $45 billion capital plan, and directed the nuts and bolts response to the 9/11 attacks. More recently, he headed the massive Metropolitan Transportation Authority (though to mixed reviews).

During his recent interview with The Jewish Press, Mr. Lhota exhibited an impressive intelligence and it quickly became obvious why he was so valuable to Mr. Giuliani. Yet it’s an open question as to whether an intimate knowledge of the city’s labyrinthine operations is enough. The job of any big city mayor – especially mayor of New York City – requires great political and motivational skills in order to successfully navigate a system dotted with many ferociously independent players who have powerful constituencies and fiefdoms of their own.

Above all, there is that key dimension of leadership that former president George H.W. Bush described as “the vision thing.” Mr. Lhota deserves the opportunity, over the next two months, to demonstrate that he is, in fact, up to the task.

Public Advocate

Of the five candidates running for public advocate in the Democratic primary, The Jewish Press endorses State Senator Daniel Squadron, who currently represents parts of Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan in the Senate. Mr. Squadron impresses with his sharp intelligence and easy command of the issues. He has a clear vision of the role of the public advocate in monitoring the workings of city government, primarily in identifying issues involving bureaucratic stagnation, and ascertaining whether policies are being implemented as intended and providing a voice for those who find themselves outside the ostensible purview of the political system through no fault of their own.

Borough President

For Bronx borough president in the Democratic primary, 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 New York State assemblyman, Mr. Diaz pursued a broad agenda of issues in Albany, 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 given the opportunity to run for reelection in the November general election.

In the race for borough president of Queens, The Jewish Press endorses Peter Vallone Jr., currently a member of the New York City 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 effort to cut the NYPD budget. He also wrote the law placing security cameras in all New York City public schools and was a sponsor of a bill to require the 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 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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