By Arthur Schwartz
WestView has often featured reports on the most recent meetings of the Village Independent Democrats (VID), one of the City’s oldest “reform” clubs.
This past May, the VID voted to endorse an array of candidates, including Bill de Blasio, Corey Johnson, and City Council hopeful Carlina Rivera in the district east of 5th Avenue.
However, the VID did not endorse me for Democratic District Leader. Why? Because, when I quit my campaign for the New York State Assembly last July, against Deborah Glick, I gave my line to Jim Fouratt—a WestView contributor who is a long-term activist member of the VID. Jim actually got 25% of the vote running a shoestring campaign, but many VID folks were furious that Deborah Glick had to run against an opponent.
One of the biggest problems we have in New York State politics is that members of the legislature rarely have opponents. That may just be the reason: (a) that we have a do-nothing legislature, and (b) why over 15 members of the Assembly and Senate, including top leadership (i.e., Shelly Silver) have gone to jail over the last 10 years.
The VID should support contested elections. A fundamental premise of reform is to make it easier to run for office and to oppose the notion that an elected position is a life appointment. The VID should support term limits, like we have in New York City. (Did it hurt us that Corey Johnson replaced Christine Quinn?) The VID should also respect those—like me—who believe in open democracy.
Arthur Z. Schwartz is the Male Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village and President of Advocates for Justice, a Public Interest Law Firm.