Kings County Politics
By Stephen Witt
Local elections bring good temp jobs
A recent glance at the Craigslist help wanted ads (under government jobs) revealed that there’s plenty of high-paying temporary work being a canvasser for a local candidate. The top job advertised pays $700 for a week’s work, and several pay $13 an hour and promised $450 for five days work canvassing for a particular candidate.
These ads immediately came to KCP’s mind this week when the much-publicized Bed-Stuy forum at the AME Church on MacDonough Street and Tompkins Avenue brought out about as many canvassers as attendees in an event that was supposed to feature several citywide candidates.
Among those workers included about ten each for comptroller candidates Scott Stringer and Eliot Spitzer. In particular, Spitzer’s crew was suspect as he’s already spent $6.7 million of his own money and entered the race less than two months ago.
Not all the campaign workers were there just for the money, though, as Democratic District Leader Chris Owens, who was outside the church in support of Stringer.
Owens, considered a Kings County Democratic Party reformer, kept mum about his own political ambitions, but did say he will not run for state Senator Eric Adams’ seat when Adams ascends to the Brooklyn Borough Presidency come January without any opposition. Owens said Adams’ seat will go to Jesse Hamilton.
After some time, Spitzer was the first to show up and gave a stump speech of his accomplishments as both state Attorney General and Governor to the roughly forty people in attendance.
Alluding to the romp he had with a woman of the night which forced him to resign as governor, Spitzer admitted he’s made mistakes, but said he reentered politics because “It’s not a profession. It’s a cause to fight for where you don’t pull any punches or worry about who you offend or step on.”
Spitzer then made his case that he will shepherd the city’s pension funds and make sure all city contracts are in order and that any savings passed on will go to improve schools, keep hospitals open and build more affordable housing.
Stringer immediately followed Spitzer and launched in about his two young children, and his own childhood growing up in Washington Heights. In taking a swipe at Spitzer not being convicted of a crime despite crossing state lines to be with a prostitute, Stringer said he believed the rich play by some rules and everyone else plays by other rules.
Stringer said as comptroller in a new administration he will help level the playing field, where people are not stopped-and-frisked for their color, and where everyone has a fighting chance to get ahead in life.
The last citywide candidate to speak was Public Advocate candidate Letitia James. Her opponents, Dan Squadron and Reshma Saujani, were also slated to appear, but neither showed up, perhaps conceding the area to James as she actually represents a small slice of Bed-Stuy.
James, a strong campaigner who cut her teeth politically working as Chief of Staff for Al Vann, presented her long public service record including being a former Public Defender, assistant attorney general and a City Councilwoman for the past 10 years.
James also pointed out that as head of the City Council’s Contracts Committee, it was she (through two whistleblowers) that uncovered the City Time scandal in which the Bloomberg Administration outsourced a firm for $46 million to computerize city agencies only to have the company charge $800 million in overruns. This led to several convictions of City Time workers and the company paying the city some $500 million in damages.
James said the role of the Public Advocate is to provide checks and balances on both the mayor and the City Council.
The three things a Public Advocate can do are litigate, legislation and agitate, said James.
Kings County GOP boss Craig Eaton said this week that the Republican Party had hoped to run a candidate for Brooklyn Borough President against Democratic Party nominee Eric Adams, but the candidate they thought would run dropped out at the last minute for personal reasons.
“In the past we’ve always run a candidate, even against Marty Markowitz, but when this person dropped out we didn’t have time to find another candidate,” said Eaton, refusing to name the person that backed out of the race.
Eaton, who is supporting Republican John Catsimatidis for mayor, said Brooklyn has three Republicans running that could make it to the City Council.
This includes GOP State Sen. Marty Golden’s longtime spokesperson John Quaglione, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Vincent Gentile in the 43rd District of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights; Anthony Testaverde, who is running for the open 46th District seat of Canarsie, Flatlands, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and Mill Basin; and Andrew Sullivan, running for the open 47th District seat representing Coney Island, Bath Beach, Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst.
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