2001-01-03 / Political Page

School For Council 2001 Hopefuls

BY JOHN TOSCANO

The times are a-changing! Michael Den Dekker, one of the Democrats seeking to succeed City Councilmember John Sabini in the 25th district, informs us that he will be attending a series of forums at Baruch College "to assist prospective candidates in understanding city governance with special emphasis on the role of the City Council."

Den Dekker adds: "Experts will focus on the Council’s role in the budget process, land use, contracting, constituents’ needs, uniformed services and much more."

Used to be the greatest percentage of candidates worked their way up through the ranks of local political organizations to earn a shot at running for public office. The special situation created by term limits in effect boots out of office most of the incumbents—experienced lawmakers with years of service—and means starting from scratch on January 1, 2002 with virtually a new, untested, uninformed, inexperienced group.

The School for Future Councilmembers makes a lot of sense. The Baruch College series of forums, taking place from January to March, is co-sponsored by the Center for Transition and Leadership in Government of the Baruch School of Public Affairs and the NYC 2001 Political Education Leadership Coalition.

Session dates have not been announced, but the theme of the inaugural January class will be, "Your First Days on the Council: Challenges and Responsibilities." Two February forums will cover "Your Role in the Budget Process" and "Your Role With Police, Fire and Sanitation Departments." The final forum in March will deal with "Your Role With Lobbyists, Advocates and the Press."

Den Dekker, who manages Assemblymember Margaret Markey’s district office in Maspeth, says he’s looking forward to attending the forums "because I want to be fully prepared to represent my constituents". We’re sure other would-be Council candidates feel the same way.

OTHER CANDIDATES: Michael Kearney, one of the Democratic candidate-hopefuls seeking to succeed Councilmember Walter McCaffrey in the Sunnyside/Woodside 26th district, drew some interesting guests at his first fundraiser on Nov. 29th at Dazie’s Restaurant in Sunnyside.

Assemblymembers Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) and Margaret Markey (D–Maspeth) were there, along with a representative from Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin’s office in Flushing. Representatives from labor, police and civic organizations also attended.

Kearney, 40, runs a company in the health care field and is chairman of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, which he also served as president. He’s also a member of the United Forties Civic Association.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Jim Gennaro, a Democrat eyeing Councilmember Morton Povman’s post, has named his son, Rich, as his campaign manager. Jim Gennaro has been on Council Speaker Vallone’s staff for several years.

CUOMO FOR GOV.? For several months now, there has been speculation that Andrew Cuomo a former eastern Queens resident, will be running for governor in 2002, setting up a situation where he would be following in the footsteps of his father, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, just as President-elect George W. Bush has followed his father George Bush, president from 1988 to 1992.

An aide to Cuomo said he won’t talk about his political future until he leaves his job as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Jan. 20th.

But he sure sounded like a candidate just before Christmas when he presided over a press conference in Glen Cove on Long Island where he announced that New York state will be getting $126.2 million of the HUD budget allotment to provide housing for the homeless. Of that total, $84.7 million is going to New York City.

Just holding the press conference on a nationwide program in New York state, Cuomo’s home state, gave it a candidate spin. This was even more true when Cuomo commented at one point, "Being here is home for me. The more you see the rest of the nation, the more you know it is good to be home."

At another point, he emphasized his record as HUD secretary, noting that under the Clinton Administration home ownership rates are the highest in history, 67 percent. "I will say it twice so you know who was the HUD secretary," he reiterated.

If he’s going to run, which is expected, he’ll have to do some serious fundraising to even the playing field between him and state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who announced his candidacy some time ago and has already raised more than $1 million. But that’s still a long way from the $30 million each will need to carry the Democratic Party’s hopes against incumbent Gov. George Pataki, who’s expected to seek a third term.

Cuomo is presently enjoying a Hawaii vacation, according to his office, during which, associates have said, he’ll take some time to discuss his future plans with his family. We’ll be waiting for his official announcement later this month.

Cuomo was last seen here several months ago when he and McCall were co-guests of honor at a Queens Democratic Party dinner. Another Cuomo in the statehouse in Albany would be interesting, especially if one of two Queens favorite sons—Council Speaker Peter Vallone or city Comptroller Alan Hevesi—is elected mayor next year. That would put Queens people in the state house and at City Hall for the first time in history.

SEN. HEVESI HONORED: Recognizing his longtime support of the Mid-Queens Fresh Meadows Youth Alliance, the organization recently honored state Sen. Daniel Hevesi (D–Central Queens) at its annual dinner at the Douglaston Manor. In accepting the honor, Hevesi announced that he had secured additional funding for the organization for the purchase of uniforms and athletic equipment.


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