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BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Shaking things up in the campaign for the City Council’s Third District, a third candidate is entering the race.
Alexander Meadows, a member of Community Board 2 for the past three years who lives in the far West Village, said he will be holding a press conference to announce his candidacy this Fri., Feb. 22. But he said he wanted to break the news first in his neighborhood newspaper, The Villager.
The Third Council District covers the West Side from Canal St. up to 63rd St., including Hudson Square, Soho, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, part of the Flatiron District and Hell’s Kitchen. In recent years it’s been known as the Council’s “gay seat” and is currently represented by openly lesbian Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who faces term limits and is running for mayor.
The other candidates in the race include Corey Johnson, chairperson of Community Board 4, and activist and civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland.
Meadows, 36, has lived in the district for seven years, two of those in Hell’s Kitchen and the last five in the Village. A first-generation, openly gay Cuban American, he grew up in Florida. He’s forthright about having been raised in a dysfunctional family environment with an abusive father, and about having to overcome hardship.
“He’s held guns to our heads — he’s threatened out lives,” he said of his father’s tormenting him and his family members.
When his mother finally divorced her husband, the family found themselves struggling to get by on food stamps.
Meadows volunteered on Quinn’s re-election campaign in 2009.
Prior to that his main political experience was running for student council at his Florida high school, a race he won. He was also a student senator at the University of Florida.
Diabetes runs on both sides of his family — his father died of the disease at age 53 — which compelled Meadows to enter the healthcare field, specializing in the disease. But he lost his job in the economic downturn a few years ago, which is how he wound up volunteering with Quinn. Now he is in estate management, overseeing a handful of real estate holdings.
Given his family background, health is an important campaign issue for him. Others include education and school safety; caring for seniors; improving public transportation; preserving and expanding affordable housing; fighting for civil rights — especially for the transgender community; and also ensuring quality, accessible healthcare.
“The closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital was a tragic loss for our entire district,” he said.
An animal lover, he said, if elected, he would work to ban the use of horse-drawn carriages in the city.
“And we should not allow residential development on Pier 40 or in any public parks,” he added.
Meadows is a member of several local political clubs, including Village Independent Democrats — in which he is corresponding secretary, making him a member of the club’s executive committee — and Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, as well as Stonewall Democrats and Chelsea Reform Democratic Club.
Some C.B. 2 members, however, have sniffed that Meadows “isn’t a serious candidate,” mainly because he’s newer to the local political scene and doesn’t have as extensive a network of supporters as Kurland or Johnson. Meadows claims to have already raised $100,000 when public matching funds are factored in, though he still has a way to go to catch up to the other two candidates.
Yet, Sean Sweeney, a leader of the Downtown Independent Democrats club and a fellow C.B. 2 member, said not to count Meadows out, though he’ll face a challenge against two strong candidates.
“Alexander’s a rising star on the community board and the local political scene,” Sweeney said. “He works well with people and applies himself. However, Corey and Yetta have laid a strong foundation over the past couple years and Alexander will have to work hard to catch up.”
Meanwhile, fiery preservationist Andrew Berman still hasn’t announced if he’s decided to enter the race or not. Another candidate who has been thinking about running also didn’t respond by press time as to whether he’s made up his mind.
In other campaign doings, Kurland, courting the animal lovers’ vote, recently launched a “Kittens for Yetta” Facebook page.