Preservation Groups Sponsor Upcoming City Council Debates

Two historic preservation organizations are sponsoring a series of forums featuring the candidates running for the New York City Council. The Democratic Primary takes place September 15th. The Historic Districts Council's League of Preservation Voters and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation are organizing the debates in Downtown Manhattan. According to a press release the forums are being held so voters can ask:

…questions specifically about preservation and development issues in (districts 1, 2 and 3). Both overdevelopment and the designation of new historic districts are key issues to the downtown community; each of these forums provides an opportunity for constituents to hear what the candidates have to say about these important topics.

The District 1 forum is coming up Friday at 6pm – at Memorial Judson Church, 239 Thompson Street (downstaors).  The eent is free and open to the public. Tickets will be distributed at the church beginning at 5pm on Friday.

The District 2 forum is Thursday at 6pm – Parish Hall of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, at 131 East 10th Street between Second and Third Avenues. And the District 3 event will be held next Tuesday at the John Lovejoy Elliot Center at the Hudson Guild at 441 West 26th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.

More information on the Historic District Council's web site.

Chinatown Debate: Chin Comes Out Swinging

CCD1 elections logo Even her opponents would have to concede it was Margaret Chin's night. A large crowd turned out in Chinatown last night to size up the four candidates running against incumbent City Council member Alan Gerson. In a lively, two hour forum, Gerson was under constant attack by Chin and another challenger, Pete Gleason. But Chin – a longtime Chinatown activist – on her home turf, took the lead.

It was the third major forum in advance of the Septhember 15th Democratic Primary. Chin's message was, essentially, "eight is enough." After two terms, she argued, it's time to give someone else a chance. Chin railed against Gerson's decision to side with the mayor in extending term limits. But she also strongly criticized his leadership. Taking issue with Gerson's argument in earlier debates that he has an "unparalleled record" of achievement, she claimed he only acts when prodded to do so by community activists (such as herself).

Gerson spent most of the night defending his eight years in office and highlighting his accomplishments. Enjoying a significant amount of support in the neighborhood, his responses were generally followed by fairly enthusiastic applause.  Meanwhile, PJ Kim refrained from criticizing his opponents, making the case that the time has come to move beyond divisive politics. Arthur Gregory positioned himself as the "truth teller," the only candidate who will truly confront the realities facing the district. Gleason, who has been Gerson's fiercest critic, kept up the pressure and pledged to "stand up to the powers that be" at City Hall and in Albany.

At the end of the night, the candidates had one thing in common: none of them was brave enough to reveal his or her favorite restaurant in Chinatown!

A short time ago, we posted the full audio recording of last night's forum. Below, are two video excerpts. The first clip, focusing on support for struggling small businesses, illustrates Chin's forceful criticism of Gerson. There's also an exchange on term limits. In the second clip, you'll hear portions of the candidates' closing statements.

City Council Debate: Gleason Sharply Critical of Gerson Tenure

IMG_0340 The five candidates competing to represent District 1 (including the LES) on the City Council debated the issues Monday night at a forum sponsored by The Villager and Downtown Express newspapers. The evening was marked by an aggressive attack on incumbent Alan Gerson by challenger Pete Gleason. By the end of the forum, held at Pace University, the contours of the race began to take shape. In the absence of major disagreements on the issues, the voters will likely make their choice in September's Democratic Primary based on differences in personal styles and backgrounds. Gerson vigorously defended his tenure, trumpeting a record of "unparalleled accomplishments." Gleason positioned himself as the outspoken fighter against the status quo at City Hall. Chin portrayed herself as the champion of affordable housing and education who would brings decades of experience as a community organizer to the Council. Kim touted his fresh approach to issues and an ability to build consensus. And Gregory presented himself as the affable, shoot from the hip businessman and activist, who wouldn't be afraid to speak his mind.