Volume 73, Number 48 | March 31 - April 6, 2004

Mendez kicks off Council campaign

By Lincoln Anderson

Rosie Mendez, the East Village female Democratic district leader, officially announced her candidacy for City Council last Saturday before a crowd of 300 friends and supporters at the UNITE! Joint Board Auditorium on W. 15th St. A former legislative aide and chief of staff to Councilmember Margarita Lopez, Mendez is running to fill Lopez’s seat after Lopez leaves office at the end of 2005 because of term limits. Council District 2 includes Gramercy Park, the East Village, Lower East Side and Murray Hill.

A 41-year-old lawyer and Brooklyn native, Mendez left Lopez’s office in August 2003 to accept a Charles Revson Fellowship for the Future of the City of New York, a program for activists in mid-career. Like Lopez, Mendez is openly lesbian.

Mendez said among her immediate goals if elected would be protecting affordable housing and defeating President Bush. Although some might think Mendez is announcing her candidacy early, she said she’s ready. “I know what I want. I know what I want to do,” she told The Villager. “I want to be the councilmember for District 2, the district where I’ve been living for 10 years and where I’ve been district leader for six years.”

State Senator Martin Connor attended Saturday’s event at which he publicly endorsed Mendez. Assemblymember Steve Sanders did not attend but sent a letter of support.

Other names being mentioned as potential candidates in District 2 include Brian Kavanagh, Councilmember Gale Brewer’s former chief of staff; Sean Maloney, an out-gay attorney who was the assistant to the president and staff secretary under President Clinton; Gerard Schriffen, a former assistant district attorney and teacher from Midtown East Plaza; and Mildred Martinez, former Campos Plaza tenants association president. Both Kavanagh and Maloney reportedly recently moved into the district.

Said Lopez of her protégé, Mendez, “I think she will be the best possible councilmember for that district, and I feel very proud to pass the responsibility on to her. And Rosie is a lawyer by profession, so she will bring a new perspective to the district; the neighborhood will benefit.”

Asked about some of the newcomers to the district being mentioned as candidates, Lopez said, “They haven’t paid their dues.” She herself definitely plans to run for Manhattan borough president.

“Like we say in Puerto Rico,” Lopez said, “thunderstorms, rain, sunshine, rain outside — I am running for borough president of Manhattan."

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