Volume 81, Number 17 | September 22 - 28, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

From left, P.J. Kim, John Scott and Jeanne Wilcke on Sept. 10 at the Hand in Hand event sponsored by Community Board 1 in which thousands of people joined hands from Battery Park northward in remembrance of 9/11. Wilcke is D.I.D. president and Kim, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council two years ago, is active in the political club.

After win, Scott says, ‘It’s time to get to work’

By Lincoln Anderson and Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Following his resounding victory in last week’s election for Democratic district leader, John Scott said he’s glad voters acknowledged his record of community activism, and that now he’s ready to get back to work on important community issues.

“The voters spoke,” Scott said, talking a few days after his win. “I won by a big margin. I’m thrilled. After many years of doing hard work in the community and not getting credit, this is gratifying.”

In the 66th Assembly District, Part B, Scott defeated incumbent David Reck, garnering 76 percent of the vote. Incumbent Jean Grillo faced no opposition for female district leader.

Scott’s victory was part of the emphatic sweep of local district leader races by the Downtown Independent Democrats against upstart rival club Lower Manhattan Democrats.

The 66th District, Part B, includes a small part of Battery Park City, Tribeca, Soho, Noho, parts of Greenwich Village, the East Village and the City Hall area.

Scott was strong throughout the district.

“The only building that I didn’t win was [former City Councilmember] Alan Gerson’s,” he said.

Gerson supported Reck — the district leader for the past eight years — and there was even an expensive-looking Gerson glossy mailing sent out to voters.

Turnout was admittedly low, but that was no surprise, Scott said. There was no major race, such as for mayor or governor, that would have drawn people to the polls.

“In an election like this, you go after the prime voters — that was 1,400,” Scott explained. “There was no big name on the ballot — I think it was a good turnout.”

Thus, the contest was basically a battle for political supremacy between Downtown Independent Democrats, which backed Scott, and Lower Manhattan Democrats, of which Reck is a member.

Although the split between L.M.D. and D.I.D. two years ago was rancorous, Scott said it’s now time to move on and for everyone to work together.

“The election’s over,” he said. “We just have to get back to work. I have nothing bad to say about David. He does good work on the community board. We have a mayor’s election in two years — we have to elect a Democrat.”

The position of district leader is unpaid, but is influential in bringing the concerns of local residents to the attention of elected officials at the state and national levels.

Scott is a longtime tenant leader in Tribeca and is a former Community Education Council member.

Among issues he said he’ll focus on is Independence Plaza, where tenants are in court with their landlord as they try to move the Tribeca complex into rent stabilization.

New York University’s expansion is another concern.

“It’s going to be these large buildings, with dust and all kind of problems,” he said of the planned large-scale development that has Villagers up in arms. “We’re trying to say that N.Y.U. shouldn’t overdevelop here.”

For his part, Reck claimed D.I.D.’s campaign was dishonest and “nasty.”

“I’m sorry that I lost,” he said. “I really feel I ran an open and honest campaign.

“The nasty mailings that went out from D.I.D. were full of out-and-out lies about me,” he charged. “They said I had brought the Trump Hotel to Hudson Square, which is an out-and-out lie. I’m the guy who started the fight on that and found out what was wrong. They claim that I brought the Sanitation garage to [Community] Board 2. That’s a bunch of nonsense, too. I started the fight on that.”

Scott said he spoke to the leaders of the fight against the Sanitation “megagarage” on Spring St. and that it didn’t seem Reck had really taken the lead on that issue.

In the 64th Assembly District, Part C, Paul Newell, the incumbent, and Jenifer Rajkumar, a newcomer, defeated Jeff Galloway and incumbent Linda Belfer. Newell received 68 percent of the votes cast, and Rajkumar received 70 percent. Roughly 1,200 people voted in the 64th A.D., Part C.

Rajkumar is the first South Asian candidate to win election in Manhattan. She is the founder and president of W-Spin, Inc., a nonprofit that aims to catapult women into government leadership positions, increasing the number of women in decision-making bodies worldwide.

Belfer, district leader for many years, is president of Gateway Plaza, as well as a member of Community Board 1. Scott said, in his opinion, Belfer was too busy with other responsibilities to do her job as district leader properly.

“All these different jobs take up a lot of time,” he said, adding of Rajkumar, “It’s good to get young people involved.”

After absorbing such punishing defeats, L.M.D. has to consider its next move.

“Obviously, we will be making an assessment of the election and review what we did,” said Robin Forst, the fledgling club’s acting president. “But as far as what we would do next time, it’s too soon to say.”

Sean Sweeney, D.I.D.’s former longtime president, offered his own assessment.

“Reck lost by an incredible margin — unheard of for an incumbent,” he said. “It is usually the other way around, with the incumbent winning by a huge margin.”

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