An enthusiastic meeting of the Village Independent Democrats on May 9th made decisions on a resolution and various political endorsements. The first proposal was to endorse a resolution opposing the establishment of a Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) to help finance the Hudson River Park. The resolution was approved overwhelmingly to oppose the NID and also to call on “…all NYC and NYS elected officials to properly fund Hudson River Park as required by law.” This was one of the first concrete actions to oppose NID formation.
Regarding political endorsements, Julie Menin won over Jessica Lappin for Manhattan Borough President, and Daniel Squadron won over several opponents for Public Advocate.
The race for a mayoral endorsement was more complicated. In the initial vote between John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, Sal Albanese, Cathy Guerriero, and Bill De Blasio, no candidate won a majority. The runoff between Comptroller John Liu and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn resulted in a 41 to 34 victory for Liu. Quinn has usually enjoyed support from the VID and several of its leaders. A community meeting at the LGBT center on 13th Street on May 7th was marked with significant applause for Quinn. Yet, support for the NYU expansion compromise, the closing of St. Vincent’s hospital, extension of term limits, or just closeness to Mayor Bloomberg and developers in general, all weakened her support among VID voting members and resulted in Liu’s victory.
The endorsement of Liu over Quinn, in spite of previous support, should not be a surprise. The VID was started as a reform club in the late 1950s, founded by individuals disappointed with the conservatism and patronage of the Tammany Hall run Democratic Party and the leadership of Carmine De Sapio. Civil rights issues and anti-Vietnam war issues increased the reform movement. As the VID, and other reform Democrats, gained strength, leadership of the party and eventually elected governmental offices went to the reformers. One result of this was the election of Ed Koch as Democratic district leader, City Council member, Congressman, and eventually Mayor of New York City in 1977. However, as Koch became more conservative, he lost VID support causing a split in the VID and the formation of the Village Reform Democratic Club. So, the loss of VID support by Christine Quinn for her perceived or real policy positions is not without precedent.
The actual primary election will be this September and there will be many political club endorsements between now and then. It remains to be seen what the endorsements of other clubs will be, and how they affect the final primary vote.
Alec Pruchnicki is a member of the VID executive committee.