Volume 22, Number 26 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 6 - 12, 2009e
Letters to the editor
To The Editor:
Walking around New York City requires a cane as a third leg to protect against falling. Sometimes life is so agitated that I almost would vote for the pol who would promise to pave all the broken streets and sidewalks in New York City.
If it is “dig we must” for heaven sake pave it after!
Battery Park City
To The Editor:
Why certain letter writers need to define other people’s worth is beyond me, but since one of your readers recently decided to belittle district leaders (“Disagree to agree”, letter, Oct. 23 - 29), I had to respond because having read numerous Bill Love “hate” notes, I’d like to at least match his ability to type with some objective insights into a position he once so ardently sought for someone else and now bashes once I won it.
While Love now says district leaders are but “minor” Democratic party positions where “few” people vote, this election saw record turnout for two district leaders, myself and Cynthia Doty, the top vote getters among female district leaders running. Indeed, in the First District, where I ran in the 66th Assembly District, Part B, voters cast 2,229 votes for me (vs. 729 for my opponent, Noel Jefferson). That’s more votes than three of my City Council candidates who ran district wide, none of whom broke 2,000. Not bad for an unpaid position. There’s a reason for that.
Mr. Love openly supported my opponent, according to public records, donating $500 to her campaign. Now, having seen his candidate lose, the job has lost its luster. Frankly, I think it unfair to her and to all district leaders for Love to pour his sour grapes on a job he once touted.
But then, Love never understood what district leaders do. A key job district leaders do is monitor poll sites. We hire all Democratic poll workers. When I took over, workers hadn’t been reviewed in years. I got rid of really bad people and replaced them with excellent ones. But first, in order to know how poll sites should work, I took the class myself. Every election I oversee every site. I won handily in the A.D.s in my district because locals know me, as they know other good district leaders. We hire, we fire, we check, we double check, 12 hours on duty every election day.
Indeed, shortly before the September primary, the Board of Elections informed me we had lost an entire polling site and had to expand another. I had to name a new coordinator, mix and match inspectors, hope new and old workers would get along and make nice. They did.
District leaders also vote on judicial nominations. I am already buried under resumes from outstanding judges who wish to be considered for Supreme Court openings in 2010. There is a political ebb and flow that I’ve come to understand, and rebel against when need be, to these nominations. I read resumes very carefully. So too when elected officials leave one job and seek another, the first one who gets called is often the district leader. “Will your club endorse me?”
Indeed, one thing Mr. Love has not learned is that good district leaders win when they have records big enough to survive all the petty, nasty stuff thrown at them by some people who never in a million years would do what we do for as long as we do it, for as well as we do it, and do it for nothing. But then, Bill, we enjoy the pure crazy joy of helping and giving to others. Some never understand that, either.
District Leader, 66th A.D., Part B
To The Editor:
Re “Disagree to agree” (Letter by Bill Love, Oct. 23 -29):
Bill Love, a political appointee of Alan Gerson, wrote critically of the Downtown Independent Democrats and its members (he is a member, surprisingly).
Despite Alan Gerson trying to pack the club to win the D.I.D.’s coveted endorsement, he failed. The message became clear that change was demanded, particularly after the undemocratic term limits extension that Gerson voted for. Incumbency is a very powerful position and it is not often that challengers defeat the incumbent. This incumbent lost. Maybe we the people are making a statement here?
D.I.D. endorsed Pete Gleason. This was a crucial factor why the incumbent lost. In fact, many believe that the critical press that Gerson received from Gleason’s campaign and D.I.D.’s election material had a halo effect. Many organizations and unions that typically endorse did not endorse in Gerson’s race. It is fair to say that without Gleason and D.I.D. (or, without Gleason’s and D.I.D.’s expository campaign), this would not have happened.
Gleason raised controversial issues time and time again during his campaign. There was criticism that he was running a negative campaign. Yet telling the truth can be negative. After Gerson lost, the media listed as reasons for his defeat — guess what, the same reasons that either D.I.D. or Gleason had pointed out to the electorate early on.
Margaret Chin won. She is a respected member of D.I.D. But you can only pick one candidate. Although D.I.D. ended up endorsing Gleason, the club had good words for Margaret throughout the campaign. She did an amazing job getting out the vote. D.I.D. recently gave unanimous support to her candidacy prior to the November elections.
Many people do not even know the name of their councilmember, their district leaders, or the political organizations that flourish throughout our city. With Obama’s victory, coupled with the mess going on in Albany, the alarming extension of term limits, our troubled economy and much debate over our schools, I have seen renewed activism and a desire to be part of the process. While there will always be differing opinions on the influence of local activists and organizations, let’s hope more people get involved, as we have a tough road ahead and need to be proactive to get the changes we need.
Jeanne Wilcke was Pete Gleason’s campaign manager in the 2009 primary.
Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to news@DowntownExpress.com or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.