Democratic borough president candidate Melinda Katz dragged her significant other out for a night on the campaign trail on Valentine’s Day.
Of course, it’s not as if Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa was exactly out of his element at a meeting of the Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol.
“The missus put the arm on me,” Sliwa said with mock seriousness. “Being here tonight is the reason I don’t have to take out a reverse mortgage to pay for a Valentine’s Day gift.”
Katz, a Forest Hills resident, is a former state assemblywoman and City Council member who was back in a corner of her old district on Feb. 14. She is one of six Democrats seeking to replace Borough President Helen Marshall, who is ineligible to run in November because of term limits.
Katz said the campaign and her fundraising are going well. In a brief interview following the meeting, she said she is still pleasantly surprised by the amount of support from people she represented in her last two stints in public office.
“I guess a lot of people thought this is the next step for me,” she said.
On one potential issue, Katz said it is a little too early for elected or community officials to take too strong a stance either in support of or in opposition to Mayor Bloomberg’s recent budget proposal for the 2013-14 fiscal year, saying what she referred to as the annual “budget dance” still is in its very early stages.
“I took part in a lot of those budget talks,” she said, referring to her time on the Council. “A lot of people are going to be working very hard on that. We’ll see what happens.”
Katz and Sliwa have two young sons together. She said the judo-trained founder of the Guardian Angels does, in fact, change diapers.
“And to answer your first question — yes, he does wear the beret all the time,” she offered.
Sliwa the day had before celebrated the 34th anniversary of the founding of the Guardian Angels in 1979.
“When we started, with my guys from the night shift at McDonald’s, I never would have been welcome at a meeting like this,” Sliwa said. “I was called a vigilante; we were called gang-bangers by a man who died recently — Mayor Ed Koch.”
He was arrested more than 70 times in the early years as the volunteer anticrime street patrol group fought for acceptance.
He spoke of becoming a radio show host, and about the 1992 attempt on his life when he was shot in a stolen cab. Sliwa has said since the incident that the shooting was sparked by remarks he has made about the late former organized crime figure John Gotti Sr. Federal authorities unsuccessfully tried John Gotti Jr. three times in the case.
Sliwa, who survived by jumping out a window in the moving cab, recalled waking up in a hospital intensive care unit.
“Whose was the first face I saw? Ed Koch! And John Cardinal O’Connor was with him,” he said. The latter, Sliwa said, was dressed in the clerical vestments worn when giving last rites to Catholics at the point of or near death.
The city, and even Koch, came to accept the Angels, who Sliwa said now have chapters in 15 countries and nearly 5,000 members. He said their work is all in the spirit of community.
“You don’t need a G-COP jacket or a red beret to do what we do,” Sliwa said. “It’s that Good Samaritan spirit we all need to have.”