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Arthur Schwartz set to announce Council run

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.

8 Comments

  1. barbara caporale barbara caporale May 25, 2020

    Schwartz, you are our hero on local issues! Thank you for your lawsuits against the STUPID 14st busway ; side st bike lanes ; the abandonment of our lower Manhattan community by Mount Sinai (the Pac-Man monster of hospitals as NYU is to real estate) for $/condo profit without regard to public health/disaster needs; & the foolish cave by politicians on the East River Park Resiliency project, etc.!
    I’m a HUGE fan of your politics on an issue oriented basis. However I’m not a fan of who you back for the top of state & national tickets.
    We can agree to disagree.
    You’ve got my vote, (although I am not in your council district), Well you at least have my big mouth the advocate on your behalf.
    Thank you and keep up the good fight!
    Hey do you want to take on the Parks Dept /GreenThumb on their new jack-booted narky community garden licensing agreements? Let LUNGS know.

  2. David R. Marcus David R. Marcus May 25, 2020

    Go for it, Arthur. District 3 has been in sore need, these last few years, of a leader that promises to protect his district and once elected works tirelessly to keep that promise and not to immediately focus on the next higher office. We in the community have sorely missed not having an advocate for our concerns and Arthur’s pro bono work on our behalf is but a glimpse of what we can expect from him once he becomes our City Councilman. We need to ensure that happens.

  3. Lily Carver Lily Carver May 25, 2020

    As someone who rides the 14 plus often I would never vote for Mr. Schwartz who supported rich landowners and drivers over poor and many old and disabled commuters. He was willing to abandone his princibles to keep the traffic in front of 13 millione dollar house down and had the gall to compare peope protesting in front of his house of being like the KKK. I will study up on the other candidates but never vote for a fake progressive like Mr. Schwarz

    • David R. Marcus David R. Marcus May 25, 2020

      Lily you are so misguided I don’t know where to start. The bulk of our community that he fights for without fee are struggling and by no means wealthy. He fights tirelessly for the poor, disabled and elderly and while you enjoy the bus speed you do so on the backs of many old and disabled who had 12 of their bus stops removed to marginally increase the speed of your selfish ride and Arthur is also fighting to restore those essential bus stops. Shame for not being better informed and being focused only on you.

      • lily carver lily carver May 26, 2020

        I have followed this issue VERY closely. I sincerely doubt you ride the 14 bus. I have a bad foot, taking the subway is hard for me. a huge number of the people riding the 14 bus are old and disabled. It was a DISASTER before the car ban. The slowest bus in the entire city. It has not increased speed “marginally” it is now finally running well and fast. The ride I take from 8th to C often took 40 minutes is now cut IN HALF or more. The eliminated stops are separate issue (one cut near me was frankly the least needed so I can’t complain about that one but the ones further down the line seem to be a big issue). Apparently Mr. Schwartz will tirelessly support the disabled only as much as it does not affect traffic on his street. I suggest you poll 14 bus riders about what they think of the bus lane

        Bottom line is that Mr. Schwartz, who I previously admired, cared more about traffic in front of his 12 million dollar house than poorer people who need to get down 14th and he revealed his true self when he compared mass transit supporters who had the gall to peacefully protest in front of his house to THE KKK!!! And silly me for being focused on people like me who need an effective bus rather than keeping traffic down in front of my house.

  4. I hope, Ms. Carver, to win back your admiration. The lawsuit was filed, not because of the “traffic” in front of my house (which started out as a $100,000 purchase 29 years ago after my dad died and left me some money), but because of my concern about auto exhaust and its affects on me and my neighbors. The potential impact was not properly studied, nor were there efforts to mitigate. There were two important things the City did before the car ban went into effect which accounted for most of the bus speed improvement (the data is online). First they eliminated left turns on 14th Street and eliminated traffic turning on to 14th Street from University, and turns onto Broadway. Lo and behold the bottleneck at Union Square dissipated. Then SBS started, cutting down stops, but more importantly, boarding time. Speeds increased 25%. The car ban barely changed that. Community advocates made lots of alternative proposals which weren’t listened to; I believe strongly in community input into local decisions. If that hadn’t happened in the 1960s there would have been a highway running through Washington Square Park. And if environmental planning advocates like me hadn’t fought Westway, we would have a superhighway running along the Hudson River. I believe in democracy, which is why I sued to get the NY Presidential Primary back. And yes, when people picket a lawyer’s house because he is representing clients, they are emulating the KKK. Who else pulled stuff like that in our lives? Picket my office maybe, but my home where my two teenage kids live, where people could be tempted to spray graffiti or throw rocks through windows. That was inappropriate (a kind word).

    • lily carver lily carver May 28, 2020

      Sorry Mr. Schwartz you will not win my vote (and trust me I have supported you on other issues). Literally no one who actually rides the 14th St. bus believes you. I rode it after they eliminated left turns at Union Square and after they turned it into an SBS and it still crawled. Not until cars were eliminated did it in fact function. IF you actually rode the bus you would know that drivers understandably wait for many people to get the ticket from the machine — it’s not just load and leave. And I saw literally no change at the bottleneck of Union Square until after cars were banned. If you truly supported working people (I literally do not know a single person who drives a car in Manhattan, no one I know could afford one), you would support anything that helps mass transit and reduces car access. The very idea that you would call transit advocates the KKK for picketing your house (and FYI, you are also the client, this is a personal issue for you) is an insult to activists all over the country that picket individuals to make a political point. They did NOT wear hoods and yet you specifically compared them to “hooded people.” You are a progressive on many issues but apparently when it comes to your street, screw those of us who have to take a bus that used to crawl up 14th St.

  5. Penny Mintz Penny Mintz May 26, 2020

    Arthur is a godsend. I might vehemently disagree with him on 14th Street and the bike lanes, but he has my full support for any office he might seek. The time and resources he expends on progressive issues is astounding. Mind boggling. I don’t know how he does it.

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