By George Capsis
Suddenly—on June 22nd—we are supposed to vote for mayor from a roster of people we never heard of. We see their ads on TV and read bits about them in the papers, but, gee, who are these people? This has got to be a mistake…oh my. And to make it even more bizarre, if you are really not sure of whom you want as mayor you can go down the line and rank them as your #2 choice, your #3 choice and so on—and the cumulative point gatherer is the winner, who will certainly not be your first choice—a mayor by default…
But it was not too different eight years ago, when “everybody knew” we were going to have the first lesbian mayor in Deborah Glick, and nobody knew who Bill de Blasio was. It was just Glick, Glick, Glick, and de Blasio was miles and miles behind. A handsome 6 feet five inches white guy who so hated his domineering father that he adopted his mother’s name who married a much shorter Black women who said she’d been a lesbian. Well—quite modern—we’d never had a mayoral candidate like that.
One day my wife Andromache (Maggie) went to take out the garbage and called to me from the hall, “There is a beautiful young lady out here who wants to talk to you. Do you want to speak to a beautiful young lady?” I quickly responded, “I am always ready to speak to a beautiful young lady,” and in walked Sarah Jessica Parker. She sat down at the kitchen table and began to talk about the upcoming election in winding spirals and finally began to say something like, WestView News is a great newspaper and who it supports could become the next mayor. Then she mentioned Bill de Blasio and, ah-hah, she wanted WestView to back him.
What I did not know then was that her fellow actress Cynthia Nixon was a big campaigner for de Blasio and was beating on Sarah Jessica to come out and support him. Sarah was, quite naturally, resisting and resisting, but finally came up with the crazy desperate idea of convincing WestView News to back him to, at last, get Cynthia off her back.
As chance would have it, attorney Arthur Schwartz had set up a meeting with de Blasio that coming week in his office (Arthur’s that is—on Broadway just across from City Hall) and had invited me also. I offered this gem to Sarah Jessica and she left, smiling (I think).
The meeting was the first time I’d ever sat down with a candidate for mayor of this great sprawling New York City, and what, oh what, were the questions I should I ask him? What did he consider to be the most pressing problems and how would he correct them?
I kept coming back to “save the hospitals” because we had campaigned for years to save the 161-year-old St. Vincent’s but had lost it to a massive luxury condo.
At one point in the interview I found myself getting up and putting my arm around the 6’5” seated de Blasio, announcing that he was my son’s age and that, “If you want to be mayor, save the hospitals that are going one by one.” A few weeks later he was handcuffed by police at a demonstration to save a Brooklyn hospital in his neighborhood.
At about this same time, a real estate developer who had bought a massive factory-like building on Charles Street near the river contacted me because he wanted to add a few more stories and needed to get local board approval. I was opposed to that, of course, but made a deal with him: if he would build a community room I would back off and let him do his thing (which I couldn’t really stop anyway). We became pals.
Then, without my knowing it, my nice developer, to help smooth the way for his Charles Street massive condo, decided to host a fundraiser for de Blasio at his East 63rd Street townhouse. As I approached the festive event it occurred to me that de Blasio might think I’d had something to do with it. When we spoke, I said (smiling), “There is no question now that you will be the next mayor of New York. Now, when I send you an email you get back right away; but when you are mayor I will never hear from you. So give me the name and email address of someone you are sure will be in your administration so I can call him.” He furrowed his brow for an instant and then took out a card, wrote a name on it, and handed it to me.
I lost the card after three days; and I can’t say that WestView benefited from having bestowed our endorsement.
Vote on June 22nd because that’s your only chance!
New York City will hold its municipal election on November 2, 2021, but since there is essentially no competition between the parties, the primary on June 22, 2021 will effectively decide who serves in these key offices that conduct your business over the next four years. WestView News assembled this guide to assist voters as they make these critical choices. See page 4 for full info.