By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
As voters get ready to head to the polls on Election Day, City Council candidates in several districts around Brooklyn are busy making a last minute push for votes in hopes of achieving victory.
There are a number of intriguing races around the borough.
In the 43rd Council District (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), Democratic incumbent Vincent Gentile and his Republican-Conservative challenger John Quaglione are locked in a bitter battle that has played out across a series of debates featuring testy exchanges between the two.
Gentile, who has been on the council since 2003, is running for a third and final term, thanks to the city’s term limits law. In debates, the councilman has said he deserves re-election because of his record of service to constituents and his ability to bring back millions of dollars from the city budget to fund parks, libraries and community groups.
Gentile said he brought an eco-dock to the 69th Street pier, established two greenmarkets and successfully fought to convince the Bloomberg administration to fund a ferry service at the Brooklyn Army Terminal pier that takes riders to Manhattan.
“That’s leadership, my friends!” he told the audience at one debate.
Gentile has also boasted that if re-elected, he will be the most senior member of the council in terms of longevity and that his senior statesman status will enable him to do even more for the district. “When the big decisions are being made, I am going to be in the room. My opponent won’t even get through the door,” the incumbent said, noting that Quaglione would be a freshman Republican on a Democratic-dominated council.
Quaglione, a first-time candidate, serves as deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn). In debate after debate, Quaglione has charged that Gentile has failed to secure adequate funding for the district for such things as parks, libraries and schools.
The 43rd Council District is 50th out of 51, next to last, when it comes to the amount of taxpayer funds it gets back from the city, as compared to what it pays in taxes to the city, Quaglione said. There are 51 council districts in the city.
“Every other neighborhood in the city of New York is getting more of our tax dollars than we are. We are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to city funding. We deserve better. I am running to change that,” Quaglione said. He contrasted Gentile’s record with that of his predecessor, Golden, who served as councilman from 1997 to 2002. Golden was successful in bringing funding back to the district, despite the fact that he was a Republican surrounded by Democrats on the council, Quaglione said.
Quaglione said Gentile has almost no clout in city government, despite his decade-long tenure, and that this hurts the district’s residents. The challenger said that unlike Gentile, he would be able to build relationships on the council and get things done for the district.
Quaglione has often noted with derision that the only committee Gentile chairs on the council is a subcommittee on libraries, for which he receives a $4,000 stipend from the council. Gentile is also the only member of that subcommittee.
The challenger has also criticized the incumbent's early support for the city's plan to build a trash processing plant in Bensonhurst. Gentile voted in favor of the plan when it came before the City Council in 2006. Gentile said that he later changed his position after learning more about the potential environmental damge the plant would cause to the neighborhood. Quaglione charged that Gentile is a flip-flopper who can't be trusted. Gentile countered that Quaglione's charge is nonsense.
There is also a third candidate in the race, Patrick Dwyer, who is running on the Green Party line.
In another closely watched race, Democrat Mark Treyger is hoping to succeed term-limited Councilman Domenic Recchia in the 47th Council District (Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst). Treyger, a civics teacher at New Utrecht High School and a former aide to Assemblyman Bill Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), is running against construction worker Andy Sullivan, a Republican-Conservative, and Pastor Connis Mobley, who is running on the School Choice line on the ballot.
In the 48th Council District (Sheepshead Bay-Manhattan Beach-Brighton Beach), the seat is opening up due to the term-limited status of Councilman Michael Nelson. The district is home to large numbers of Russian-Americans.
Republican-Conservative David Storobin, who won a special election to take former state senator Carl Kruger’s seat and served in the state senate for a year in before he was defeated by Democrat Simcha Felder, is the most well-known name in the field of candidates hoping to succeed Nelson. Democrat Chaim Deutsch, Working Families Party candidate Igor Oberman and Alexander Lotovsky, who is on the Forward Brooklyn Party line, are also running for the seat.
Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg-Brooklyn Heights) is running for a second term in the 33rd Council District. His opponent is Conservative John Jasilli.
Antonio Reynoso, a Democrat, and School Choice Party candidate Gladys Santiago are running for the seat in the 34th Council District. The district includes parts of Bushwick and Williamsburg.
Robert Cornegy (Democrat), Veronica Thompson (Republican) and Kirsten John Foy (Working Families) are the candidates in the 36th Council District (Bedford-Stuyvesant-Crown Heights).
In the 37th Council District, which includes the neighborhoods of East New York, Ocean Hill-Brownsville and Cypress Hills, the candidates are Democrat Rafael Espinal Jr., Conservative Michael Freeman-Saulsberre and Working Families Party candidate Kimberly Council.
Carlos Menchaca, a Red Hook community activist who worked on Superstorm Sandy relief efforts there, stunned the political world when he defeated longtime incumbent Sara Gonzalez in the 38th Council District (Sunset Park-Red Hook) in the Democratic primary in September. He is heavily favored to win the general election on Tuesday against Conservative Henry Lallave.
Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope-Windsor Terrace) is running for re-election in the 39th Council District. His opponent is Conservative James Murray.
Councilman Mathieu Eugene is seeking a second term in office representing the 40th Council District (Kensington-Prospect Lefferts-Ditmas Park). Conservative Brian Kelly and Sylvia Kinard of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, are running against him.
In the 41st Council District, incumbent Darlene Mealy, a Democrat, is seeking another term. Her challenger is Independence Party candidate Bilal Malik.
Democrat Inez Barron and Conservative Ernest Johnson are the two candidates running to represent the 42nd Council District (East New York-Brownsville).
Voters in the 44th Council District (Borough Park-Midwood-Bensonhurst) will decide whether to give Democratic Councilman David Greenfield another term or elect Republican Joseph Hayon.
Incumbent Councilman Jumaane Williams, a Democrat, is running for re-election in the 45th Council District (Flatbush). Erlene King, of the Rent is Too Damn High Party, is challenging him.
Democrat Alan Maisel and Republican Anthony Testaverde are running for the seat in the 46th Council District. The district includes the neighborhoods of Bergen Beach, Marine Park and Mill Basin.
Laurie Cumbo won’t have to wait for the election returns to find out if she wins the seat in the 35th Council District. Cumbo, a Democrat, is the only candidate on the ballot. The district, currently represented by Councilwoman Letitia James, includes Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. James is running for public advocate.