Though it comes as no surprise, the entry of Barry Grodenchik into the race for borough president makes an already exciting contest even more so.
That’s because there’s such a wide variety of candidates in the running, and the result could well be the strengthening of an office that hasn’t always been the voice for Queens that it should be.
Grodenchik, like the other candidates, is an old political hand. Until he announced his run for the office, he was deputy to current Borough President Helen Marshall. He remains her director of community boards, keeping him in touch with that level of government closest to the people.
One hopes that would influence him to govern for the people if he were to win, as too many Queens office holders seem to forget who they work for the minute they get elected, whether it’s by directly working against the popular interest or just disappearing into the back rooms, never to be seen again in public —or both.
Grodenchik, who previously served in elected office as a state assemblyman, in addition to holding numerous appointed positions, faces stiff competition in the race for Borough Hall.
The other announced candidates are City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), former Councilwoman Melinda Katz of Forest Hills, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
That’s one diverse, volatile mix. It’s too bad the office they’re all running for doesn’t wield that much power. But maybe this time the winner will turn it into an effective soapbox for Queens.
In a case fraught with politics, the Police Department suffered a major blow Tuesday when U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered cops to end the use of stop and frisk outside privately owned apartment buildings where management had requested them to do it.
The case focuses on the Bronx, but stop and frisk, along with other police tactics some see as too aggressive — or downright unconstitutional — has prompted complaints all over the city, including in Queens. Just this week, marchers in Jackson Heights rallied against a recent series of hate crimes — and also against police tactics meant to prevent such atrocities and other lawbreaking. The NYPD and its defenders say its policies are all legal and are the main reason violent crime is at historic lows.
Here’s yet another area where it’s hard to see how gaps between our citizens’ differing beliefs can ever be bridged.