Volume 78 / Number 18 - October 1 - 7, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower
East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

Term-limits tango: Political pundits are busy handicapping what extending term limits, or not, would mean in terms of its ripple effects on the state’s elected heavyweights, from Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Quinn to Governor Paterson and Attorney General Cuomo. But, apart from the big-stakes game of musical chairs that would be averted if term limits are extended, smaller races are being impacted, too. That’s certainly the case in Council District 3, covering Chelsea and the West Village, currently represented by Christine Quinn. Two expected candidates considered potential frontrunners to succeed a term-limited Quinn in next year’s election, Andrew Berman and Brad Hoylman, haven’t raised a single dime yet, nary a penny. “I think a lot of candidates are in a holding pattern until the issue of term limits is resolved. It has most certainly caused some confusion,” Hoylman told us recently. “Yes, I’m a potential candidate for Council in 2009,” he confessed, “and I’ll wait to see what happens.”

The Community Board 2 chairperson said he hopes the issue is resolved “very soon,” though, adding, “I’m not hearing anything on it.” Hoylman noted, for the record, that he opposes term limits because, he said, “They limit the effectiveness of councilmembers. They cut off expertise. On the other hand, two referenda passed them — so it’s a real quandary. I think the issue isn’t whether term limits are good or not, but how to amend the term-limits law” — i.e. by legislation or the ballot. Naturally, we had to ask his opinion on which he favors, but he declined to go there: “It’s a good question,” he granted, “but as a possible City Council candidate in 2009, my opinion would smack of self-interest, so I’ll pass.” As for Berman, he had a bit less to say. First off, he wouldn’t even let on if he’s interested in running. “I have nothing to say about it at the time,” he said. “I’ve always said, once there is, you will be the first to know,” he assured us. On extending term limits, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation director didn’t give his take on whether he backs the idea. But he did declare, “I think it would be quite disturbing to undo term limits in such a way that it would not allow voters to have their say before the next election.” Unlike the above two, however, Maria Passannante Derr, Hoylman’s predecessor as C.B. 2 chairperson, has both declared her campaign and raised a heap of funds. “The campaign is going great,” she reported to us last week in an e-mail of some heft. “I had an impressive first filing in July and, to date, I have raised $50,000, making me a very credible candidate. Donations range from $25 to the maximum of $2,750, showing across-the-board grassroots support throughout the district,” she noted. “I am committed to utilizing my education, experience and a lifetime devotion to this community to serve the people of this district if I am elected to the City Council, and I am looking forward to an exciting 2009 campaign.” As for term limits, Derr apparently supports keeping them as is: “The voters of New York City favored term limits of two terms in the 1993 and 1996 public referenda,” she said. “The Bloomberg administration can put a referendum on the 2009 ballot, but it is disingenuous for the mayor and the City Council to change term limits to extend their current terms. I believe that New Yorkers will not allow ambitious politicians to veto their vote. Terms limits provide an opportunity for improvement and to make things better.” Meanwhile, civil-rights attorney Yetta Kurland, who, like Hoylman and Berman, is openly gay, like Derr, has declared her candidacy. Kurland — being hailed by backers as the race’s “Great Progressive Hope” — sounded as if she holds pretty much the same position as Berman on term caps. “I really think the question is not whether people support term limits but how we see the democratic process working out,” she said. “There’s a compelling reason that the people have spoken twice.” That view fits with the Chelsea resident’s theme of “running on a platform giving voice to my community.” Yet, while Kurland said, “I can see both sides of term limits,” she didn’t see fit to say where she herself stands on the issue. We hear there is also a possible fifth candidate running out of the Robert Fulton Houses in Chelsea. Needless to say, term-limits turmoil is also affecting political consultants, particularly newly minted ones like Arthur Schwartz, the West Village’s Democratic state committeeman, who recently formed the Progressive Strategies Group. Limits limbo is “playing with their heads,” Schwartz said of his potential clients.

“A lot of people we’re talking to are not sure they want to pay to sign a contract to run for an election if they don’t know whether it’s happening,” he said.

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