BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Updated Sat., May 23, 6:45 p.m.: Arthur Schwartz is raring to go.
The Village district leader is on the verge of announcing his campaign for City Council District 3. He’s eyeing early June to make the news official.
The Council district, currently represented by Speaker Corey Johnson, includes part of the Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. Johnson will be term-limited out of office at the end of 2021.
Other candidates for the high-profile seat include Johnson’s chief of staff, Erik Bottcher, and activist Marni Halasa.
“I have to jump on it — Erik is out there doing his thing,” Schwartz said.
The Village attorney has planned out his strategy, which includes focusing on raising money early on. He wants to exploit the city’s public-financing program, which was boosted in the past couple of years to a very generous 8-to-1 ratio for matching funds.
“My goal would be to raise $50,000 by the end of the year, and spend next year running and not raising money,” he said.
Schwartz’s own endorsements of candidates have frequently positioned him as a maverick in Village politics. Bucking the Downtown political establishment, he backed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, and he supported Zephyr Teachout in her primary races against Governor Andrew Cuomo and Letitia James for attorney general. Schwartz also has been a major Bernie Sanders supporter in the past two elections, the first time, again, over Clinton.
Four years ago, Schwartz was Sanders’s New York campaign counsel. And he just represented Sanders convention delegates in a landmark lawsuit, with Andrew Yang, that reinstated New York’s June 23 presidential primary, after the state’s Board of Elections had canceled it.
By the same token, Schwartz knows that Bottcher will likely have the lion’s share of political endorsements. But he still hopes to nab some noteworthy names to back his Council bid, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and, he said, “maybe Cynthia Nixon.”
In addition, Schwartz’s raft of recent community lawsuits — while winning him support from voters — has also put him at odds with many of the local political powers that be.
He is currently suing on behalf of local residents to revoke the 14th St. busway and the 12th and 13th St. protected crosstown bike lanes, and also to block the East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan, which would bury East River Park under 8 to 10 feet of dirt to prevent coastal flooding.
Most of the area’s politicians, including Johnson, support the busway.
The City Council and City Hall were not happy with Schwartz’s lawsuit on the resiliency project. But state Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein agree with the attorney’s argument that the state Legislature must first vote to “alienate” East River Park as public parkland to allow the coastal resiliency project to proceed.
On the other hand, Schwartz’s lawsuit to stop Mt. Sinai from closing the current Beth Israel Hospital and rebuilding it as a 70-bed mini-hospital a few blocks to the south aligns with the position of local politicians, who fear the replacement mini-hospital will be inadequate to meet the community’s needs.