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BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Citing “personal and family reasons,” Alexander Meadows on Monday dropped out of the City Council District 3 race.
He then promptly endorsed Corey Johnson over Yetta Kurland for the seat, which is currently held by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The following day, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, New York State’s first openly gay legislator, said that she, too, is throwing her support behind the Community Board 4 chairperson.
“I am endorsing Corey,” Glick said. “I think that his experience chairing the community board — which has many diverse personalities, as all community boards do — has been a great training ground. When you work with the community board, you work with a lot of people with different interests and different perspectives, and that is what you have to do in the Council,” she noted. “I think that he has done a good job [on C.B. 4].
“I have faith in his ability to work with people and work in a positive fashion — which may set him apart from his opponent,” Glick added, putting the stress on “positive.”
“I’ve made a decision that I’d like somebody who could be effective in government,” Glick added, pausing for emphasis, which highlighted her choice of the word “effective.” “And I think that person is Corey,” she said.
Asked if it was a tough choice for her, she said no.
“I’ve watched him over the last year or so,” she said. “You don’t pay that much attention” to political races until they really get into full swing, she noted.
“Two years ago, people thought it was going to be a very different race — Brad Hoylman, and discussions of Andrew Berman. ‘Will he? Won’t he?’ — Hamlet on the Hudson,” she quipped.
Asked directly for her thoughts on Kurland, Glick said, “I’m not sure she could be effective or work in a collaborative fashion. There’s no evidence that leads me to believe she would be a good councilmember.”
Asked about Kurland’s signature issue, protesting the closure and then the loss of St. Vincent’s Hospital, Glick charged that the way Kurland hammered elected officials on the issue “borders on demagoguery.”
She accused Kurland of blaming local politicians “who worked very hard to turn that around [i.e., tried to save St. Vincent’s],” but ultimately failed.
“You’re playing on people’s reasonable concern and fear of not having a hospital, but don’t offer any solution,” Glick charged of Kurland’s M.O. on St. Vincent’s.
On Monday, Meadows endorsed Johnson in a statement, saying, “After much thought and consideration, I have decided to end my campaign for City Council in the Third District. While it was a difficult decision, I believe the best way for me to serve the community right now is to continue my work on Community Board 2 and as a local Democratic activist — and to help elect Corey Johnson to the Council.
“I am endorsing Corey today because, over the course of the campaign, I have seen him really listen to voters and show a deep understanding of the issues,” Meadows said. “He is intensely committed to our community — and I know he’ll deliver real results for us. I will be working hard in the trenches to ensure he is elected to the City Council.”
Meadows could not be reached by telephone, but he sent an e-mail response, saying, “I am confirming my quote about ending my campaign and endorsing Corey.”
Regarding Meadows backing him, Johnson said in a statement, “I am honored to have the support of former Council candidate Alex Meadows. He has been an advocate for the progressive causes that inspired my campaign, and I look forward to partnering with Alex in our community and on the City Council.”
Meadows, a first-generation Cuban-American and gay rights activist, has lived in District 3 for seven years and been a member of C.B. 2 since 2010. He’s also a member of the Village Independent Democrats, and is an officer of the political club, corresponding secretary.
Johnson has chaired Community Board 4, which covers Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, for close to two years, and has been on the board since 2005. He has been a resident of Chelsea for the past 10 years.
Kurland, now his lone opponent in the race, is an activist and civil rights attorney.
Johnson has already racked up an impressive list of political endorsements, including Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, former state Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal, state Senator Brad Hoylman and the Working Families Party.
He has also been endorsed by about 10 political clubs, among them, Village Independent Democrats, Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, Lower Manhattan Democrats, Village Reform Democratic Club, Downtown Independent Democrats, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats and Stonewall Democrats.
Johnson has heavy union support, as well, including the United Federation of Teachers, 1199 SEIU, 32BJ SEIU, the American Federation of Musicians Local 802, Teamsters Joint Council 16, the Retail Wholesale Department Store Workers Union and about half a dozen others.
Kurland’s endorsements include a number of New York City ex-politicians, including former Mayor David Dinkins, former Borough President C. Virginia Fields and former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, plus Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez and state Senator Eric Adams, among others. Former C.B. 3 Chairperson Harvey Epstein has also reportedly endorsed her. Like Johnson, she also has support of unions, including District Council 37 and Transport Workers Union Local 100. As for political clubs, the McManus Democratic Club and Chelsea-Midtown Democratic Club are among the organizations backing her.
In February, Meadows, who currently lives in the West Village, entered the field for District 3.
The Third Council District covers the West Side from Canal St. up to 63rd St., including Hudson Square, Soho, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, part of the Flatiron District and Hell’s Kitchen. In recent years it’s been known as the Council’s “gay seat” and is currently represented by openly lesbian Council Speaker Quinn, who faces term limits at the end of this year and is running for mayor in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.
Speaking this week, Glick said it would be hard to gauge the impact of Meadows leaving the race.
“He’s a nice young man,” she said, “but I don’t think he had a strong candidate profile at this point. I didn’t hear of anybody supporting him. So it’s hard to say if he was drawing from one candidate or another.”
Kurland’s campaign was asked for comment on Meadows’s endorsement of Johnson, as well as Glick’s remarks about Kurland — namely, that Kurland wouldn’t be positive, effective or collaborative in the Council and that she has been a borderline demagogue on St. Vincent’s.
Kurland spokesperson Rodd McLeod responded, first to Johnson’s endorsements, by going on the attack on a different subject:
“No matter which politician endorses him, Corey Johnson owes New Yorkers an explanation of why he worked for real estate developer GFI, a shady company whose principal executives have close ties to [Assemblymember] Dov Hikind and other anti-L.G.B.T. politicians,” McLeod said. “GFI was sued for housing discrimination by the U.S. Department of Justice. West Siders deserve an honest explanation from Johnson, and they’re still waiting.”
As for Glick’s criticisms of Kurland’s character and her position on St. Vincent’s, McLeod countered, “Yetta is a coalition builder who had the courage to stand up for the community when St. Vincent’s Hospital was closed.”
However, Glick characterized the recent focus on Johnson’s having worked for GFI as “an odd act of desperation.” Johnson’s position with the company, as Glick understood it, was as an “intergovernmental representative.”
“It’s like blaming someone who is working at N.Y.U. as a department administrator or student affairs coordinator for the policy of the university,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”
In response to Kurland’s comments about Johnson, RJ Jordan, his campaign manager, called them “a hollow smear attempt.”
“Voters in the Third District know well Corey’s history as a role model and tireless activist for L.G.B.T. rights,” Jordan said, “as well as his record of accomplishment as a progressive community leader, and they won’t be fooled by absurd suggestions to the contrary. He has a strong record of standing up to overzealous developers — whether in opposing the N.Y.U. land grab or the Chelsea Market expansion or the Rudin plan at St. Vincent’s — as Community Board 4 chairperson. These are among the reasons why Corey has been endorsed by leaders who symbolize the values of the West Side, like Jerry Nadler, Deborah Glick, Tom Duane and now Alex Meadows.
“This is a hollow smear attempt, with no basis in truth, by a desperate candidate, and frankly, West Siders deserve better,” Jordan said of Kurland’s accusations. “Corey’s opponent has given bizarre reasons for owning a handgun — saying that [her school was licensed] by the Department of Homeland Security [and that she had] to protect students at [that] English as a Second Language school, and also because she’s an attorney. Come on — we’ll put Corey’s record of results up against Yetta’s rhetoric any day of the week.”