Volume 75, Number 16 | September 07 - 13, 2005

Editorial

Stringer for Manhattan borough president

The Democratic field for Manhattan borough president is crowded with elected officials who have served their constituencies well. From this group of talented candidates, it’s tough to make a choice.

The borough president has limited powers, the main ones being input on the city’s land-use decisions, budget oversight and appointment of community board members. Yet the position can be used as a bully pulpit on important issues and the borough president should function as the leading spokesperson for his or her borough.

A few candidates stand out. City Councilmember Margarita Lopez has for the last eight years ably represented her East Side district with spirit and verve. She’s championed the rights of the disabled, fought to create and preserve affordable housing and battled inappropriate development, like the proposed 19-story dormitory on E. Ninth St. She also forged a good relationship with Mayor Bloomberg, which helped the district in various ways, from getting funding for park improvements to securing an Avenue D site for the future Lower Eastside Girls Club clubhouse.

Yet, Concerns were raised about Lopez’s campaign contributions from Scientologists and the fact that a significant amount of public funds she received for her 2001 election are still in dispute. Also, Lopez seemed to stake out puzzling positions on the community boards and Union Square pavilion just to take a contrary stance to another B.P. candidate, Scott Stringer.

Councilmember Eva Moskowitz is another leading contender. She has shown a willingness to take on sacred cows without fearing the consequences. Her recent report on 311 calls complaining about noise was insightful in showing most come from Manhattan below 14th St. She has earned a reputation as “abrasive” and someone who doesn’t build coalitions, though we have not observed this quality in her.

Bill Perkins, another councilmember, is worthy of mention. He was front and center during the run-up to last year’s Republican National Convention in fighting for the rights of protesters to use the Great Lawn and have a genuine protest march, as opposed to being penned in by police on the West Side Highway.

However, one candidate has really distinguished himself from the crowd, and that is Scott Stringer. The Upper West Side assemblymember earned a reputation as a reformer in Albany when he passed legislation requiring legislators to actually be present when they vote. Of all the candidates running for B.P., he has the best ideas.

Specifically, on the community boards, Stringer issued a hard-hitting report calling for reform to insure: that conflicts of interest are avoided and dealt with expeditiously when they arise; that board appointments aren’t politicized and used to sway chairperson elections; that ongoing training of the boards’ staff is provided; and that there is funding parity for the borough’s 12 boards. Stringer’s reforms on the boards are long overdue, and we wholeheartedly support them.

Stringer has assembled the most talented campaign staff in this race and it has shown in the several reports he’s issued on an array of subjects, from the community boards to housing and the greening of the city; this would augur well for him surrounding himself with a talented staff as borough president. A cousin of Bella Abzug, he’s grown up with politics; he’s a consummate coalition builder who can work with others. He says, if elected, as B.P. he would be “at the front of the train,” leading the charge on key issues, not at the back.

All in all, Stringer brings the most to the table. We think he’s got the skills, personality and organization to be the most effective borough president of the bunch. The Villager endorses Scott Stringer for borough president.

While we are not endorsing Lopez for B.P., we definitely wish her well and thank her for her years of service to the district. And we have a hunch we just may be seeing her again in a future role in city government or a related field where her enthusiasm and talents will shine.

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