2001-03-17 / Columnists


Rockaway seems to be at it again. To my knowledge there are (so far) a number of candidates from Rockaway announced for the Democratic primary for the City Council seat. To my knowledge, amongst them: Palmer Doyle, Chris Jorge, and Lew Simon are all announced and possibly Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, who apparently is considering a run, but not announced. These candidates must face Joe Addabbo Jr. (also announced) from the mainland portion of the district. So, the four Rockaway candidates (assuming four) split the vote, just enough for a mainland victor.

I thought it was only the Irish who made a sport of fighting each other and pummeling each other to eternity. But, apparently whatever is in the water or whatever they are drinking, this has become a universal sport this primary season. For no Rockaway candidate can win with this kind of split and voter division. Period!

What is it that makes all of these candidates believe they are viable candidates (when they are simply not)? Rockawayites must develop a long memory and realize what’s going on, and pledge to vote against these "destroyers". You can’t destroy a Rockaway shot at our City Council seat and walk away unscathed. We must remember!

First, let’s look at Palmer Doyle as a candidate. Assume that his base will be the UFA people and the Rockaway Park base. Active in Rockaway affairs for a number of years, and a pleasant enough individual, Palmer appears to be a reasonable candidate. But, appearing to be a reasonable candidate for right or wrong is the smaller part of what it takes to get elected. Does he have or can he raise the monies necessary for a brutal primary and brutal general election? Does he have people who have been through the mill and understand the labyrinth that is New York State election law? (It’s very difficult to secure a ballot position.) What special thing does he bring to this primary?

If he has solid UFA backing maybe the monies are there or will be raised. The UFA is a first class operation – if they decide to move into high gear! Now since the majority or largest block of voters on the west end is Irish Catholic, how does Palmer fare here? As somewhat of an activist in that community, I feel I can honestly say that Palmer has been a non-entity in this important area. With only April and May before the petition process and then June and August before the actual primary, years of non-participation can’t be overcome in this short time span.

Palmer’s a decent man, but this seat isn’t for him this time.

Next is Chris Jorge, a nice woman and a bundle of energy, though she seems to have a number of problems. An unknown with ethnic voters and with no clear (political) organization in tact to assist her, can she raise the money or get on the ballot? Do the garden clubs have that kind of expertise and clout? Don’t think so...maybe I’m wrong.

On the surface it seems her only role could be to siphon off a few percentage points/votes from the real Rockaway candidates and help split the vote. To me, it seems this seat isn’t for her either.

Now we look at two heavy-hitters in this race, Lew Simon and unannounced Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey.

First Lew Simon, the honorable male Democratic leader and community activist. Lew can raise the money if he had to do it by having his crew collect deposit bottles. He and his crew have the expertise and have already successfully navigated the rough seas of ballot positions and New York’s tough election laws. Like a perennial pit bull, Lew has amassed a record of local concerns and issues. I admire his shear tenacity. He works hard and gets things done!

Finally, Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, the female Democratic leader, has an impressive record. A union leader and a college professor, like Lew she has successfully negotiated the election swamps and can raise the monies needed. She is and has been an activist in the community for decades and is an established activist in the west end’s largest ethnic/religious group. She has a good political organization and a good name.

Unless the lesser candidates destroy her by siphoning votes, it’s her election.

But, there is a way out of all this bloodletting – alliances and agreements. Must Rockaway’s hopes for a City Council seat be slaughtered because of petty, personal ego trips or grievances? Can’t we all just say "no" to the alluring intoxicants of ego and friends? Otherwise Joe Addabbo Jr., a fine man, or the Republican candidate will win the seat.

However, if everyone played smart and worked together, all could be won instead of lost. Since it appears that Audrey’s Assembly seat will be open (she’s running for borough president), of the two candidates – Simon and Chapey – couldn’t an agreement be reached that one will run for the City Council and the other the Assembly?

Simply, the number one rule in politics is wait your turn. Dr. Chapey as a leader, community activist, activist in the Catholic and Irish American communities has first dibs from every vantage on this seat. I like Lew, but Geraldine was and has been there first. Now there is a problem – I believe Geraldine is slightly miffed since she has offered and given support to Lew on a number of occasions, but Lew thinks everything on the "political smorgasbord plate" has his name on it.

We’ll see who the real leaders are...who really cares about Rockaway! We’ll also see who must be defeated in future elections! Are there future jobs on the horizon for these candidates? Is this why they’re in the race?

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