2001-10-13 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

The upcoming elections in each of our two councilmanic districts are going to be both interesting and informative.

It has been a long time since we had an election such as this one where there was no entrenched incumbent to beat.

Traditionally, incumbents have been as difficult to beat as the recent Yankee teams in World Series games.

Now, come Joe Addabbo, Joann Ariola, John Baxter and Rob Curran seeking the 32nd District Councilmanic seat while Jim Sanders, Jr. and Everly Brown seek the 31st District seat.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jim Sanders has the edge in the 31st District race simply because he is a Democrat and that party has a great edge in registered voters. Sanders is a long-time community activist and school board official. Everly Brown is not well known in the community and is a Republican. Add to the fact that Sanders racked up a spectacular amount of votes in the primary from both the Jewish and the minority communities, and you have what appears to be a ground ball for Sanders.

The 32nd District race is not a cut and dried although there is a large plurality of Democratic voters in this district as well.

Rockaway seems to be the key to this election. While there are more voters in the mainland portion of the district (something like 70 percent to 30 percent), both of the major party candidates are mainland people. They should pretty well split the vote on the mainland. The candidate who can carry Rockaway may very well win the election. The two Rockaway candidates are minority party candidates and will have to work very hard on the peninsula to generate enough Rockaway votes to win the election.

Here is the way I think it will shape up.

Joe Addabbo has to be the front-runner as we enter the election simply because of the huge Democratic plurality in the district. He showed his strength in both Rockaway and the mainland by beating Lew Simon by 2 – 1. While Simon beat Addabbo across the board in Rockaway, he did not get the plurality that he needed. Addabbo should take the votes of those who voted for Simon in the primary.

Joann Ariola is a strong, attractive candidate. She is a seasoned campaigner, having one race under her belt (against Audrey Pheffer for the Assembly) and has worked for both Al Stabile and Noach Dear.

Ariola has a few problems with Rockaway voters. First, she is a Republican. Secondly, she worked closely with Al Stabile, who is arguably the worst legislator ever to represent Rockaway in any capacity.

Ariola also has to live down the very large mistake she made in the campaign against Pheffer that may have created defeat from the jaws of victory.

What she said and what she did is a topic for next week’s column simply because it is too long a story to tell here. Suffice it to say at this point that she angered many Rockaway voters and those voters have long memories.

John Baxter is the Independence Party candidate. He knows that he cannot win, but the race gives him a voice for his idiosyncratic views.

Baxter says that Ariola is "dead wood" without the Independence line in the election, but I do not think that is true. Those 800 or 900 votes do not seem to matter that much.

That leaves Rob Curran, a young (27) man on the move. While many will hold his youth and inexperience against him, others will see his age and his stance as an "outsider" as a positive in this jaded age.

Who will win?

The morning line has to be something such as this:

In the 32nd Councilmanic District:

Addabbo: 1-2 The chalk-horse in this race, but could stumble in Rockaway if he is not active in getting votes.

Ariola: 5-1 Doesn’t have the numbers and did not do well in her last outing, but could surprise the field, especially if Bloomberg does well in the mayoral election. His coattails could do it for a number of Republican candidates.

Curran: 50 - 1 Unknown track record. Could build up appreciation for the next race should he do well in this one. Has lots of good ideas, but few will listen. Building credibility, but little chance to be around at the finish.

Baxter: 100-1 Has the Independence line, and that should get him a couple of hundred votes. Favors vouchers and a ferry. Not much of a chance to finish anywhere near the top.

In the 31st Councilmanic District:

Sanders: 1-1. Should win going away if he does not make a major mistake.

Brown: 100 – 1 No chance.

Remember to get out and vote on November 6. A vote for any candidate is a vote for democracy.


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