Mendez, Squadron, Stringer

Rosie Mendez, who has represented City Council District 2, covering the East Village, part of the Lower East Side, Gramercy, Kip’s Bay and Murray Hill, since 2006, faces a primary challenge from Richard Del Rio, a senior pastor at Abounding Grace Church in the East Village. A strong voice for affordable housing and tenants’ rights, Mendez justly deserves re-election under any scenario.

Mendez easily outmatches her opponent in visibility, endorsements and campaign funds, Del Rio, meanwhile, is a leader in the fight against the Department of Education policy preventing religious congregations –– many of them anti-gay –– from renting Sunday space in public schools. The policy is currently under court challenge.

Since 2011, Del Rio’s Web site says, he has been “one of the champions of the Right to Worship movement,” which aims to boost the presence of such congregations citywide. That position is hostile to the interests of the L.G.B.T. community and out of step with his district, and, in our view, violates the U.S. Constitution’s mandate for separation of church and state.

For the record, Christine Quinn is the only Democratic mayoral candidate who opposes allowing church worship services in public schools.

Beyond this issue, however, Mendez, as she tells The Villager in this week’s issue, “has been there” for District 2 on the important issues over the past eight years. Del Rio, on the other hand, clearly seems to be a one-issue candidate, and his position on that issue is one we disagree with. The Villager endorses Mendez for re-election.

This year’s race for public advocate, a citywide office, features two frontrunners, Daniel Squadron and Letitia James.

In his five years in the state Senate, Squadron has proven himself to be an energetic, bright, community-minded, levelheaded legislator. He’s been a leading advocate for gun control, and has helped strengthen New York State’s gun laws.

He distinguishes himself from Councilmember James, again, by his support for D.O.E.’s policy barring the use of public schools for Sunday religious worship services. Squadron embraces the bedrock principal of separation of church and state.

Over all, Squadron has re-energized the 26th District state Senate seat, and we think he has the perfect skill set to be a highly effective public advocate — and that he would, in turn, re-energize the public advocate’s office, which has recently been very inconspicuous, except as a mayoral launching pad, under Bill de Blasio.

Finally, the Democratic primary for city comptroller pits Borough President Scott Stringer versus Eliot Spitzer. Stringer has ably served as B.P. for the past eight years, and was a vast improvement over his predecessor, C. Virginia Fields. Saying he was inspired by The Villager’s coverage of a conflict-of-interest scandal at Community Board 2, Stringer made community board reform one of his central issues, and, in truth, the community board appointment process has been vastly improved under him, reaching a new level of professionalism and integrity. The change was particularly evident at C.B. 2, which has changed from a really dysfunctional board to a model one. On planning issues, where the B.P.’s powers are advisory only, Stringer has given sensitive input on ULURP’s for mega-projects, such as N.Y.U. 2031, which was scaled down significantly after his stage of the public review.

We feel Spitzer’s behavior in office as governor disqualifies him. Yes, he was an effective attorney general, but jetting to Washington on the taxpayers’ dime to consort with hookers, as he was prosecuting prostitution rings as A.G., is the height of hypocrisy. He shouldn’t use the comptroller’s office to reboot his political career.

His attacks on Stringer as a “career politician” are unfounded. We all wish we inherited a real estate fortune, but most of us have to work. Stringer for comptroller.

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2 Responses to Mendez, Squadron, Stringer

  1. To say Rick Del Rio is a one issue candidate is to publicly acknowledge that the editorial board of the Villager has in all probability never met him, covered him (before today: http://thevillager.com/2013/09/05/pastor-who-led-… or even spoken to him. For thirty-one years, Rick Del Rio has established a record of holistic community and youth development that includes education, youth and senior programs, homeless service, business and jobs growth, gang interventions, community policing, and so much more. Indeed these are the issues that animate his campaign, and his vision for District 2: http://www.richarddelrio.com/issues.

    That his advocacy has also included the unconstitutional discrimination of one type of speech by bureaucrats towards people of faith, hardly disqualifies him as a candidate. Indeed his position on Right to Worship was supported this spring by a bi-partisan, veto-proof super-majority of City Council Members.

  2. With an appropriate disclaimer in the lease and a rental fee that covers all related costs and ensures that not one dime of taxpayer money will go to support these churches, all constitutional objections to churches using schools could be answered. But as a gay man, I'm a bit insulted that you claim that the candidate's position is "hostile to the interests of the LGBT community." Churches renting school facilities might include pro-lgbt churches like the Metropolitan Community Church, Unitarian Universalist or United Church of Christ denominations or nondenominational churches the Revolution Church in Williamsburg. Assuming that all religion is anti-LGBT is wrong. But denying the right of an organization to use a public facility on the basis of theology or ideology is also dangerous to the separation of church and state.

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