Volume 75, Number 17 | September 14 - 20, 2005

The view from the park on District 2 Council election

Villager interviews and photos by Jennifer Bodrow

Philip Van Aver
Lives in East Village
Retired, 66

Are you a political person?

Yes, I’m a political person. I think the first campaign I worked for was in 1956, when I was in high school. And then I moved to the Lower East Side in the 1960s, when the neighborhood became very depopulated, and there weren’t really many people to participate in all the projects we had. So I just got very active in a lot of different organizations, the community keeping the library open and the Friends of Tompkins Square Park and I’m one of the founding members of CoDA.

Are you going to vote?

Important issues in your opinion:

Well, I feel that we should continue with the kind of grassroots progressive leadership my political club CoDA has put forward in the last 10 years. And we have many of the same problems that the rest of the city has: housing, the parks, transportation. But we also have a lot of public housing here. We have a lot of elderly people who live in rent-regulated apartments and who are in need of services. And I’m very, very concerned about the safety of this neighborhood — and flooding. And I discussed that with the candidate and she is very concerned about the East River seawall.
Who are you going to vote for?

Issues the next councilmember should focus on more:
The last one that I mentioned, I think — this area is low lying and during the 1992 storm, water reached up Sixth St. to Avenue C. Those are issues we really have to address on the Lower East Side, the possibility of a winter storm or a hurricane affecting the lives of everybody in this area.

Michael O’Connor
Lives in East Village
Works in cooking school

Are you a political person?
Yes, I think we are all political whether we know it or not.

Are you going to vote?

Most important issues:
Gay rights is one; two is housing, housing and rent issues

Issues the next member should focus on more:

I would like to see the next councilmember focus more on rent issues and rent stabilization, because big builders with big money do whatever they want.

Lives in East Village
Translator, 41

Are you a political person?

Yes and no. I was studying politics at Berkeley and I saw myself as a diplomat, but then I realized, that I’m much more interested in literature. And now, I’ve kind of avoided becoming political active, because it can be really confusing. Everybody says something different, instead of bringing it all together. And once you sign any petition or something, you suddenly get hundreds of mailings and annoying phone calls at dinnertime. So I would say I’m mostly not a political person.

Will you vote?
No, I’m not planning to vote.

Important issues:
I would say the most important issue they should focus more on is health insurance. I’m not interested in gay marriage issues or marriage at all. But I think that in a country like the U.S.A. in the 21st century it should be possible that everybody has insurance.

T Cooper
Lives in East Village
Author, 32

Are you a political person?

Yes, I would say that I’m a political person, because I want to stay engaged in the daily world’s issues as much as I can.

Are you planning to vote?

Yes, I’m planning on voting for candidates concerned with education who are against gentrification and pro-affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. These are the most important issues to me and I think the next councilmember should focus more on them.

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