BY ARTHUR SCHWARTZ | On Tues., June 28, we have an important election. The first of two primaries. Remember, elections have consequences, as we learned too well in 2016.
The most important races on the ballot on June 28 are the races for governor and lieutenant governor. In my mind the choices aren’t even close. Kathy Hochul served in Congress, where she got an A+ rating from the N.R.A. for voting against continuing the assault rifle ban, and became Andrew Cuomo’s right-hand woman. Never said a word about Cuomo’s excesses, which we have heard a lot about for the last 18 months. He was mean, vindictive and a womanizer. He refused to release billions in education funding. He refused to add an extra tax on the ultra-wealthy. During the worst days of COVID he forced patients into nursing homes and lied about it, especially after they died at alarming rates. Etc. Did Kathy Hochul say a word? No.
And when she chose her own lieutenant governor, she chose a man who was already being investigated by a grand jury. Yes, it’s a change to have a woman, but it will be more important to have a forward-minded activist like Jumaane Williams, who has a career that involves taking guns off the streets, fighting to reduce class size and opposing government corruption.
And for lieutenant governor, we have a choice between an astounding woman, Ana Maria Archila, and Hochul’s second lieutenant governor choice, a congressman who supported Trump on his border policies. Ana Maria has a career as an activist, she is a mom of two, and is L.G.B.T. How amazing it will be to have a lieutenant governor who serves as a check on the governor, and who turns the office into something like statewide public advocate.
But now to the subject of this piece — assemblymember for the 66th Assembly District. Deborah Glick has been in that office since 1990 — yes, 32 years! When the corrupt, bribe-taking Sheldon Silver ran the Assembly, Deborah Glick was his top enforcer. (Although, even with that, he didn’t allow her to block the creation of Hudson River Park, which she tried to do in 1998.) When Silver was indicted, Glick demanded that he not lose his job unless he was convicted. And when she lost on that argument, a photo of a sobbing Deborah Glick appeared in the Albany Times-Union. Since Silver left, she has become one of the most singularly ineffective members of the Assembly and an ineffective community leader. Can anyone remember hearing from Deborah when 1,000 New Yorkers were dying every day back in spring 2020?
But I am going to vote for her on June 28, as are many other community leaders. Her opponent, Ryder Kessler, is worse. He is not rooted in any community struggles. He came out in support of the Soho/Noho rezoning plan, which every community leader in those communities, and Chinatown, denounced as a pro-developer land grab, one of the last such projects of its sort promoted by Mayor de Blasio. Kessler supports the expansion and permanent status for the street sheds originally created to allow restaurants to reopen, sheds that allow landlords to charge more rent (for using public space), which cause many Village streets to become loud party spaces night after night, which make sidewalks impassable for the elderly and disabled, and impassable for Access-a Ride and emergency vehicles. At least Deborah is on the right side on those issues
Kessler appears to be associated with a pro-development group called Open New York that cloaks itself in the mantel of affordable housing, but which is really a front group for developers. They want more development in Soho and the Village, taller buildings, more “market-rate housing,” with fewer setbacks (called open space). Their funders are mysterious, unnamed donors, and their “volunteer, grassroots” leaders are actually paid salaries.
But then let’s look at Ryder’s contributors. He has raised more than $150,000 and threw in $70,000 of his own money. Ninety-five percent of his contributors are people who don’t live in the district, and 90 percent come from outside of New York City. He has a lot of big checks. More than $9,000 from one husband-and-wife team of hedge funders. Bank officers. Corporate owners. Entrepreneurs. Big checks, running from $1,000 to $6,500, not the sort of checks that grassroots folks interested in “lower rents” (from his literature) write. He is part of some network of young businesspeople who support his call for MORE DEVELOPMENT in our neighborhood, sugarcoated with promises of affordable housing.
And what is most astounding is that his campaign never discusses issues germane to the state Legislature, such as school funding and class size, taxing the wealthy, criminal justice reform, guns, climate change, election reform. Maybe this is an early run for City Council — watch out, Erik Bottcher!
It will take a lot for me to fill in the circle next to Deborah Glick’s name, but on June 28, I will vote Williams, Archila, Glick AND Erin Hussein for Democratic State Committee versus Rachel Lavine.
Schwartz is the male Democratic district leader for Greenwich Village and a labor/civil rights lawyer. He ran for Assembly against Deborah Glick in 2016 but withdrew for health reasons. He was running — on a slate with Erin Hussein — for Democratic State Committee versus incumbent Ben Yee in this current primary election but withdrew due to a health reason and also due to his heavy load representing other candidates as their campaign counsel.