By Arthur Z. Schwartz
There was not a single Assembly District in the State of New York where Cynthia Nixon did better against Andrew Cuomo in the September 13th Democratic Primary than our 66th Assembly District.
Yes, our bastion of progressivism gave her 57.5% of the vote against a man who spent over $20 million in his campaign against her.
Why did we do that? Because we, as a community, are hungry for ethical and responsive government, for leaders who are creative and bold and innovative.
Because many of the Working Families Party’s (WFP) constituent groups faced financial destruction if the WFP stuck with Cynthia in the General Election (next Tuesday, November 6), it wanted to endorse Cuomo, declaring this battle over. To do that, it moved Cynthia Nixon over to run for Assembly in the 66th AD, which includes Greenwich Village, Soho and Tribeca.
The press, knowing that I had been a leading public supporter of Cynthia, called me. “What do you think? Can Cynthia win?” My response of “Yes, and the Village needs change,” unleashed a firestorm. Deborah Glick charged me, in The Villager, with being “obsessed” with her, which given the extent of my activism, shows just how disconnected she is. But, truth be told, Cynthia Nixon and the WFP have given us a unique opportunity.
Deborah Glick has been our Assembly member for 28 years. She is the last of a generation of young leaders who was elected to office in our part of NYC in the 1990s: Tom Duane, Chris Quinn, and Catherine Abate were the others. Glick was the first out lesbian elected to the Assembly, and the first woman in a long time. Glick’s tenure has rarely produced the sort of progressive change the Village has always embraced.
Locally, her biggest crusade for many years was to block the creation of Hudson River Park. Yes, she voted NO on the Hudson River Park Act, asserting that it would lead to Battery Park City in the Village. Those of us who supported having the park put our energy into getting restrictions in the legislation that would not let this happen. We were right, and she was wrong, but her opposition meant that the park was minus a strong supporter every year when the budget was debated. It still is not fully funded or built.
Most critically, Glick, in 1996, hitched her star to that of a candidate for Speaker, Sheldon Silver, who on paper did not share her supposedly progressive perspective. Deborah supported his election, and became one of his whips, until his arrest and ouster in 2014. She gained a reputation in the Assembly for her ability to get members in line. And as his deputy, Deborah fell into line with all of Silver’s “three men in a room” budget deals, the most important one of which was to water down the Rent Stabilization Law, and allow for “destabilization” of apartments, a move which has seen over one million apartments become deregulated, turning places like the Village into areas where $4000 per month one bedrooms are the norm.
In 2013, she even gained notoriety for threatening Nicole Malliotakis, a Staten Island Assemblywoman, because Malliotakis complained about Assembly funds being used to reach secret deals with women staffers who had been sexually harassed by Assemblyman Vito Lopez, a Silver ally.
Then in 2014, Silver was indicted for taking bribes. His half-million dollars a year no-show lawyer job, an open secret, turned out to be how he was funneled money. Our new State Senator, Brad Hoylman, called on Silver to step down as Speaker. Glick vigorously said “No,” and said it wasn’t “fair.” “Innocent until proven guilty.” But no one else agreed with her and “Shelly” was ousted. Photos were published in Albany showing Glick sobbing in the Assembly chambers.
Her alliance with Silver hadn’t really done much for the Village, Soho and Tribeca. Every inch of available space became expensive condos. This led her to become an ally of Christine Quinn when Quinn ran for Mayor with millions of dollars of real estate money. We lost St. Vincent’s Hospital. West Side properties inundated by Hurricane Sandy got little help or attention. West Village Houses became a co-op. NYU moved forward with its massive expansion and all she could do was join a picket line. Governor Cuomo refused to release billions of dollars for NYC schools allocated by the legislature; Glick barely said a word. Glick was not a champion of voting rights. And on the L-Train debacle, she has been silent. Same with the closure of Beth Israel Hospital, which serves so many of her constituents. And most people in politics considered her to be washed up after Silver.
I commenced my own run against Glick in 2016, but had to cut it short for health reasons (I had a heart attack), and no one stepped forward this year. Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy is a blessing in disguise.
So, even though Cynthia says, “don’t vote for me,” I am voting for her on November 6. At worst it is a way to register dissatisfaction, and signal to a new, fresh leader, that Glick, and her oodles of money from professional groups (she chairs the Assembly Committee in charge of professional licensing) can be beaten. For the rest of New York and the U.S., the November 6 ballot is exciting. For us in the 66th AD, it was going to be a yawn. Now we have a reason to get excited about our vote on November 6. Vote Cynthia Nixon for Assembly. Send a message to the Democratic Party: we need new blood in Albany too!
Arthur Schwartz is the Male Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village.