Volume 74, Number 41 | February 16 - 22, 2005

Darren Bloch
Council candidate is experienced political organizer

By Lincoln Anderson

A fifth candidate recently entered the Democratic primary race in the East Side’s Second City Council District. Darren Bloch, 30, an attorney and member of Community Board 6 who lives in the East 20s on Third Ave., announced his candidacy three weeks ago.

The district includes the East Village, Lower East Side, Gramercy, Kips Bay and Murray Hill and is currently represented by Councilmember Margarita Lopez, who will be term-limited at the end of this year.

Other candidates in the race include Rosie Mendez, Brian Kavanagh, Reverend Joan Brightharp and Gur Tsabar.

Although he’s young, Bloch has been involved in politics since age 18, when he worked on a congressional race in Florida. For two and a half years, he was executive director of the Nassau Democratic County Party, when the Democrats wrested control of the county from the Republicans for the first time in 80 years. Bloch recalls this time as exciting, though noting the downside — a lot of “sleeping on the office couch in the office overnight” on Long Island when there wasn’t time to commute back to Manhattan. He also served as chief of staff to the Nassau County Legislature.

Bloch was a legislative financial analyst and intergovernmental liaison for the City Council’s Finance Division, responsible for analyzing the policy and fiscal impact of proposed legislation. He is former manager of city government relations for Con Edison, as which he worked on solving noise, environmental and public safety issues.

A lifelong East Sider, Bloch attended P.S. 183 and Wagner Junior High School. In his late teens he aspired to be an Olympic downhill skier, but blew out both knees. He received a B.A. from Middlebury College and law degree from New York Law School. He’s lived in the district six years.

Bloch says the top five issues he would concentrate on if elected are affordable housing, education, healthcare, public safety and the environment.

“I think often we see councilmembers who don’t have the skill set to press the administration on important issues,” he said, noting he believes he has the right skills.

Bloch said a priority would be addressing constituents’ complaints.

“The District 2 office has to be much better at addressing constituent concerns — from 35th St. to Grand St. and Houston St. The office has to be more responsive.”

As for bars and nightlife, Bloch said a “balancing act” is needed to address the issues of residents and small business owners. He said he feels the Community Board 3 moratorium on new liquor licenses in certain areas deemed oversaturated with bars goes too far.

“I think there are a number of alternatives to a blanket moratorium,” he said. “I think it’s going on a case-by-case basis with bar owners to insure they’re sensitive to the needs of the community.” Bloch said that at a recent candidates forum for the 14th District Democratic Caucus organized by Representative Carolyn Maloney, several other District 2 candidates also called C.B. 3’s moratorium extreme. (The forum, at N.Y.U. Medical Center, was not open to the press.)

Bloch supports what he calls “smart development,” which he described as “not overdeveloping,” while also providing affordable housing. He backs use of inclusionary zoning, under which developers are allowed to build higher in exchange for providing affordable units.

He’s concerned about the plan for a year-round restaurant in Union Sq.’s pavilion, noting District 2 sorely lacks open space.

“I think that anything that takes away open space…is not the best use for this community,” he said. “I have not yet come out fully against [the pavilion restaurant], but it is something I am following.”

Bloch noted with a laugh that he was surprised he hasn’t been taking any heat for having worked for Con Ed.

He’s hoping to win the support of some political clubs, but calls his campaign basically grassroots. He’s just starting to raise funds and getting out to meet voters.

“I’m a New Yorker — when I’m in a cab, I strike up a conversation about X, Y and Z,” he noted. “I want to know what’s going on out there. I love talking to people about their own perspective.”

He lives with his girlfriend, Jill, a social worker, and their dog, Otis

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