By Charles F. Otey, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
John Gangemi Back at Age 78, in Race to Win B’klyn DA’s Seat
Will Voters Recall That ‘John Gangemi Is My Friend?’
Every once in a while, as I’m driving north along the Gowanus Expressway, for instance, I see a sign with a faded political exhortation proclaiming “John Gangemi Is My Friend.”
Painted decades ago, on the side of a highway-facing building, the sign has, of course, faded. But the slogan’s letters, which once appeared on hundreds of Brooklyn lawns, do tell us something about John Gangemi Sr. He refuses to fade away.
Gangemi, now 78, has sought elective a number of times during the past 40-plus years and was once elected as a councilman-at-large, an office that the Democrat-dominated Council threw the GOP as a bone.
And, as one might say, he’s back! pre-eminent Brooklyn Eagle reporter Paula Katinas noted in a recent article, he may be treated in political circles as being on “a quixotic quest,” but Bay Ridge lawyer Gangemi said he is in the race for Brooklyn district attorney for real. “I feel like I could add something to the office,” he told Katinas.
Back in the ’70s, Gangemi served four years in the councilman-at-large post, a position that was eliminated several years later. Gangemi started in politics in the 1960s as a loyal Republican and an ambitious member of a powerful political organization. But, after a few years, he left the Bay Ridge-Bensonhurst GOP club because he saw no possible way to gain its support in his bid for elective office.
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Gangemi Bolted Seergy GOP Club to Seek Elective Office
So, then-Republican attorney Gangemi bolted from the 12th A.D. GOP organization, now known as the Ed Seergy Republican Club, and vowed then, and later as a Democrat, to run for office against any candidate put forth by that powerful club.
It was no secret that club leader Edmund Seergy regularly refused to grant Gangemi the GOP nomination for any elective post. Why? A big reason Gangemi couldn’t get on the ballot line was that Seergy’s Seventh Avenue club already had an abundance of political talent.
Seergy could point to the continuing electoral success of Republican Councilmember Angelo Arculeo, who would become the City Council’s minority leader and forge a solid partnership with the late, legendary Council Majority Leader Tom Cuite.
In addition, two of Albany’s most powerful Republicans — Assemblymember Dominick DiCarlo and Sen. Bill Conklin — were key components of the Seergy force.
Conklin, who served as deputy minority leader, was so popular that few Democrats dared to run against him. Those who did had to raise their own funds because Democratic county leaders did not want to offend the respected Republican incumbent. One year, when the Conservative Party denied Conklin their nomination, he broke all precedent by running a primary against the C.P. and won back the nomination.
Assemblymember DiCarlo was such an impressive legislator that — running for re-election as a Republican-Conservative candidate — he won the full-throated endorsement of The New York Times!
When Gangemi finally took on the Seergy organization, he was going against the state’s largest Republican club — it had more than 1,600 paid-up members. Ed Seergy never sought a political job for himself. A vice president of the Carrier Air Conditioning Co., Seergy, a WWII pilot, had superb managerial skills and never, in public, at least, had a harsh word for anyone, even Gangemi.
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As Nixon Walloped McGovern, Gangemi Almost Beat Carey
In 1972, Gangemi ran for Congress as a Republican against Democrat Hugh Carey in a district that stretched from Bay Ridge to Park Slope.
“I lost by the skin of my teeth,” he said.
His candidacy, it must be noted, was aided substantially by the coattails of incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon, who swamped his Democratic opponent George McGovern in every state except Massachusetts. Carey, we know, would later become New York’s governor.
During his term on the City Council, Gangemi seized on the opportunity to take a modicum of revenge against Councilmember Arculeo.
He had already run against Arculeo, who succeeded Seergy as district leader, and lost. Then Gangemi partnered with Staten Island Councilman-at-Large Frank Biondolillo in a revolt to oust Arculeo as leader. This bid failed as well.
Gangemi, now a veteran Democrat, told Katinas he is aware that running for DA will be an uphill battle for him. Maybe he should quote the late President Ronald Reagan when he famously promised not to “hold the youth of my opponent against him!”
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Gonzalez as ‘Incumbent’ Was Favored by Thompson
Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who was named acting DA by former Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson just prior to his death, is most likely to win the Democratic primary, observers agree.
Term-limited Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) has officially announced his candidacy for Brooklyn DA.
“I am the only candidate who can effectively apply objectivity, and without fear or favor, deliver justice for the residents of Brooklyn,” said Gentile, who was a toddler when opponent Gangemi started in politics. “That makes me the best person to carry on that important legacy that Ken Thompson left us.”
Many observers view Gentile’s run for Kings DA as a political move calculated to keep his name in the news while he awaits a much-deserved appointment by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Gentile has paid his dues politically. Like just about all long-serving politicos, he’s acquired some baggage along the way, but nothing that should dissuade the mayor, who must also send the message that loyal public servants deserve his respect and support.
Two other candidates, attorney Marc Fliedner and former city human rights commissioner Patricia Gatling, have also officially entered the race.
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United Must Feel Sting of Retribution — Is it an ‘Artie Aidala Moment’?
Every once in a while, the rule of law rears its lovely head and smacks some bloated tyrant right in the kisser!
And that’s what happened this past week when millions in this country rose up in anger at seeing an airline passenger — a paying, buckled-up customer — get dragged from his seat and viciously hauled on his back down one of those already too-narrow passenger plane aisles, getting his face bloodied and his humanity mercilessly assaulted by a corporate-uber-alles mentality that the industry foists on us, claiming, “We’re only doing this for the stockholders!”
Dr. David Dao seems to have a very able and experienced trial lawyer in Thomas Demetrio representing him. Demetrio suggests he will go all the way to trial and also seek punitive damages. We agree, wholeheartedly!
Moments like this call for elected officials and those who want to become elected to speak up. Perhaps this is the opportunity for Brooklyn’s voluble and likeable Arthur Aidala — potentially the next New York state attorney general — to declare his candidacy, dedicating his political life to defending the rights of the “little guy.”
As a highly visible FOX television contributor, attorney Aidala already sits on one of the best platforms a candidate could ask for — and he doesn’t even have to say he’s a candidate!