Manny Caughman lets out a small chuckle when asked why a longtime community activist would want to assume the responsibilities and headaches that would come with being elected as the City Councilman in New York’s 27th District.
“If you have a passion for what you do, it isn’t really work,” he said.
Emanuel Caughman, 74, is a Springfield Gardens resident and community liaison for Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica).
He is a native of South Carolina and the father of three daughters, an Air Force veteran, a former auxiliary police officer and a former small businessman, owning a laundromat for 16 years.
“I just enjoy working in and helping our community,” Caughman said. “I think I can do a better job. I know how to navigate the system. I know how to communicate with the various agencies.”
His resume of civic involvement includes Community Board 12 and as former president of the Brinkerhoff Action Association.
He has served as a mayoral appointee to both the Jamaica Bay Watershed Advisory Committee and the administrative board of the South Jamaica Empire Zone.
Caughman also has served with the African American Advisory Council for the Queens District Attorney’s Office; the 180th Street Business Improvement District; the executive board of the 113th Precinct Community Council and the 103rd Precinct’s Precinct Management Team.
Coughman also serves as chairman of the local Customer Advisory Council for the United States Postal Service.
While working with the DA’s group in 2006, Caughman was deeply involved in the aftermath of the Sean Bell shooting in which Bell, a Jamaica resident, died in a hail of 50 police bullets. Two others were wounded.
“I wanted to make sure justice was done,” Caughman said.
Three NYPD officers were acquitted of criminal charges. One was fired and three others agreed to resign from the department in order to keep some or all of their pensions and benefits.
Caughman said education, if he is elected, must be the biggest priority. And he is no fan of mayoral control of the schools as practiced by Mayor Bloomberg.
“We need more parental control in the schools, more parental involvement,” he said. “Mayoral control is going to be addressed, because it has been a fiasco.”
He cited, as one example, the brief tenure of former Schools Chancellor Cathie Black, whom Bloomberg brought in from the business world.
“You don’t go to a podiatrist if you have a toothache,” he said. “That person has no knowledge. ... You need the community working together, not one person dictating policy.”
Caughman acknowledged that the pre-Bloomberg Board of Eduction did not promote accountability for results.
He said given his choice of council committees, he would choose Environmental Protection, a longtime passion of his, and Public Safety.
“I would like to help address quality-of-life issues and crime,” he said.