p. The delicate Republican majority in the New York State Senate depends a great deal on a few races this year. In the 15th District, Senator Serphin Maltese is running hard to defend his seat against Councilman Joe Addabbo. Maltese has been campaigning with fellow Republican, Councilman Anthony Como, who too finds himself in a tough race. Como faced Elizabeth Crowley only a few months ago in a special election to replace Councilman Dennis Gallagher. He faces Crowley again.
Como held a fundraiser at Russo's On The Bay in Howard Beach last Wednesday, drawing a very large crowd. Nobody disputes the councilman's ability to raise money. On hand were staff, family of staff, and basically his core support mechanism. Although he hasn't had much time to really plant his flag in the City Council, he did manage to get a dialogue going with City Hall in regard to land use issues in his district.
Maltese spoke about how Como was a recipient of the Hal Miller Weinstein Memorial Award. This award comes from Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and is issued to outstanding new attorneys. Brown once described this award in the following words, "Each year this award is presented to a member of our first year class of assistants who most exemplifies Hal Weinstein's spirit, enthusiasm and dedication to public service. Hal touched the lives of many of us here in this office. He was one of our most promising young assistants whose warmth and friendship was felt by all of us."
Hal Weinstein was a DA that sadly lost his life in a car accident in 1992. Como won this award in 2001.
Maltese went on to say that Como "was an easy mark for anyone that needed his help."
Okay, it's a love fest between two party-mates and friends. But the fact is, Como is an easy target. He readily gives out his personal cell phone number and he answers it, which is better that most women I've dated. The problem with analyzing Como's performance is that – due to election laws – he has been forced to campaign when he would rather govern.
Both Como and Crowley can be best described by the same word: accessible. And Como is the rare politician that actually apologizes for not returning phone calls, which he often remembers to do. For his fundraiser, which had its share of well-known politicos, Como gave the stage to a band of three young men, known as Dry Clean Only. To their credit, they banged out three of their own songs, even though the audience was probably not the perfect venue.
The coming years in the city will require a City Council that understands budgets. Hopefully as we get further away from these special elections, people can get back to governing. This is a time when the pet issues candidates may count as their signature causes might have to wait. The city comes first.
It's a reminder of an honorarium speech once given by John F. Kennedy. Students were eager to hear him talk about war, peace, and a new frontier – but the president instead talked about budgeting. His point was that there is a morality in what you say “yes” to in a budget. We look for that morality, and that skill, to set the tone for the city in the next two years.