2001-11-24 / Columnists

From the G-Man

The City Council Race: Final Thoughts
By Gary G. Toms

Hey people! Now that new life has been pumped into the political body of Rockaway, with the election of James Sanders, Jr. and Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. to the City Council, I have some final thoughts that I would like to share with you.

James Sanders, Jr., Rockaway’s native son, shocked a lot of people with his victory. For many years the sentiment on the East end was that Far Rockaway never had a representative from the Rockaway community in the City Council. That has changed, and Sanders has a huge task ahead of him, in terms of convincing Rockaway residents that he is the real deal. He talked a good game during his campaign, and now Far Rockaway is waiting to see if he becomes the hero or the goat. If he remains sincere and does not let the political system make a whore out of him, I believe James Sanders, Jr. will do great things for Rockaway.

"He doesn’t know enough about Rockaway issues to represent us." "He’s just too damn laid back about his campaign. I don’t see the fire in his eyes." "He doesn’t have a chance against Joann Ariola. She’s just too strong a candidate." These are some of the things people said about "Jazzy" Joe Addabbo, Jr., but like Sanders, he denounced his critics and managed to move voters into "Jazzyland", placing him firmly in the council seat.

Without question, the fight for District 32 was vicious, Rob Curran and John "Rockaway City" Baxter excluded, and entities were introduced into the fray that had no business being there. I realize I am being vague, but these certain people know exactly what I’m talking about. In the end, the nastiness, bitterness and attempted sabotage fell short of their goal, and the true candidate emerged victorious. I guess an old saying came to pass. God don’t like ugly!

There were several candidates, who shall remain nameless, that felt they were being asked "fluff" questions or questions that were not hard to answer. Well, from the interviews I conducted, "fluff" or not, my goal was to ask the questions that most of the residents of Rockaway want answered. If they seemed like the same old questions, it’s because not a damn thing has changed over the years in either peninsula. Moreover, the questions came about from a poll I conducted with potential voters. So, to say the questions were weak is a slap in the face to the voters. The bottom line is whether you like the questions or not, you should simply answer them and move on. That goes for any future politicians as well.

I think Rob Curran has an excellent future in the political arena. As long as he sticks to his beliefs and doesn’t become corrupted by the political process, this guy is going to make a lot of noise in Rockaway. I’ve dubbed him the "Young Gun", and because of his presentation, ideas and determination, he is destined for political stardom.

What can you say about John Baxter? Now, now, let’s be nice folks. As far as I’m concerned, Baxter, or "J.B." as I like to refer to him, was a breath of fresh air in the political contest. I admired him because he told me straight up that he knew he didn’t have a chance at winning, and he simply wanted to try and shake things up. Baxter was comic relief for many, but in the midst of his tirade against the political system and status quo, some of his points had a degree of truth to them. Love him or hate him, J.B. accomplished what he set out to do, and did so admirably and humorously. Thanks J.B.!

Now that the reps have been chosen, they’ve got two years to get the job done. It is up to us to keep the pressure on them and remind them of every campaign pledge they made. The moment they screw up, we have to be willing to ride them like a Harley until they come through for Rockaway. This should not and will not be politics as usual at either end of the peninsula.

I have given both candidates fair warning, and I will be relentless in my pursuit if they start doing the City Hall shuffle. I won’t go digging for dirt or looking for doctored tax records to torpedo them. I’ll leave that to the classless mainland rags that are out there. I’m going to solely focus on their performance in the City Council. That will be enough.

I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt for now, as we all should. Two years is not a lot of time to accomplish many of the goals they set, so we have to be realistic about what they will and will not do, but if they can initiate policies that restructure and revitalize the Rockaways in any way, they would surpass the expectations of many. The clock is ticking James and Joe; so let’s get busy.

See you next week!

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