By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The race for Bay Ridge’s City Council seat began in earnest as incumbent Democrat Vincent Gentile and his two Republican challengers, John Quaglione and Andy Sullivan, held fundraisers and began campaigning for votes.
The contest is shaping up to be one of the most closely watched in the city, since Gentile, who has been in office for a decade, is one of the few council veterans eligible to run for another term. He first won the seat in the 43rd Council District in a special election in February of 2003. The district also includes Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst.
Quaglione, deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn), and Sullivan, a construction supervisor, are both vying for the Republican Party’s nomination to run against Gentile in November.
Quaglione, who held his fundraiser at Viccolo, an Italian restaurant on Third Avenue on March 11, came out swinging against Gentile, telling a group of enthusiastic supporters “our current council member has failed.”
Quaglione blasted what he called Gentile’s “weak legislative record,” and said that in the incumbent’s 10 years in the council, he has sponsored only 10 bills that have become law. “That’s a rate of one a year,” he said. Quaglione also cited a survey by the Citizen's Union which found that the 43rd Council District ranked a poor 50th out of 51 council districts to receive city funds for capital projects. “We have sent more money to City Hall than City Hall has sent to us,” he said.
With his wife Kerry and baby daughter Natalie Grace at his side, Quaglione vowed to fight tax increases and parking ticket blitzes by the city, and to pursue an aggressive quality-of-life agenda that includes advocating for additional sanitation pickups in commercial zones and sponsoring graffiti cleanups. He also promised to hold regular town hall meetings with residents to find out about their concerns and to address thsoe concerns. "I am ready to create an agenda that puts community first," he said.
“Increasing taxes and fees is not helping the community. We have waited a decade for a City Council member to understand this. We can wait no longer,” he said.
Gentile officially announced his intention to run for re-election at a kickoff event at the Dyker Beach Golf Course Catering Hall on 86th Street on March 7, telling a large crowd of supporters that he’s “not afraid to fight for your rights as a New Yorker.”
Gentile, who noted that this will be his last council raced due to term limits, said he deserved re-election because of the work he has done in the past and for what he plans to do for the district over the next four years.
Gentile said he has fought against aggressive traffic enforcement agents giving out parking tickets and has battled against overzealous Health Department inspectors who hit restaurant owners with summonses. “Taxpayers and small businesses should not be used as ATMs,” he said. The incumbent also touted a bill he recently introduced that would prohibit employers from posting job listings in which unemployed people need not apply. Gentile charged that it amounted to discrimination against the unemployed.
The incumbent said that Parks Department officials call him the “$10 Million Man,” because of all the money he has brought back to the district for parks projects. Along the projects is an eco-dock slated to open at the 69th Street pier in the spring.
“The good news is that there’s more to come,” Gentile told his supporters. “There is much more I want to work on over the next four years,” he said.
Sullivan scheduled a fundraiser at Ponte Vecchio Restaurant on Fourth Avenue the same night as Gentile’s big bash. In a recent interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sullivan said that if he’s elected he would fight to against unnecessary fines the city slaps on store owners and restaurateurs.
“Small business is hurting and it’s trickling down to the community. Small businesses are the economic engines of a community. If they’re in trouble, everyone’s in trouble. Not only is there too much government, no one wants to take the time and trouble to open a business anymore,” Sullivan said.
“It’s not worth it to have your own business,” Sullivan said. “And a lot of this has happened on Mr. Gentile’s watch,” he added.