A Personal Perspective
BY MARCIA MOXAM COMRIE
Well it was bound to happen. State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bellerose) plans to challenge Mayor Bill de Blasio in the race for mayor next year.
Avella, a member of the State Senate’s Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), has filed papers to run for mayor; and will reportedly make a formal announcement on Sunday, Dec. 19.
The former City Councilman who represented Council District 19, has always marched to the beat of his own drum — to the chagrin of party leaders and colleagues, such as then-Councilman de Blasio. His joining the IDC has also stuck in the craw of Senate Democratic leadership. Every Democrat who joins the splinter group diminishes the mainline Democrats’ chances to regain control of the Senate.
Leaving the City Council in 2009 after two terms, Avella in 2010 took on entrenched Republican senator, Frank Padavan for the 11th Senate District and won; and in 2014 he successfully defended his seat against former City Council Colleague and Public Advocate, John Liu.
Liu was himself a candidate for mayor in 2013 and was among those who lost the primary to de Blasio. Tony Avella, to put it bluntly, doesn’t care about being liked and is therefore, not well liked by the powers that be. But his constituents clearly like him.
There is at least one other known Democrat who has also said he is running. Former Councilman and a mayoral candidate himself last time out Sal Albanese plans to throw his hat in the ring again.
And although de Blasio has made many missteps as mayor, he is so well known that defeating him in a primary will not be a cake walk. Neither Albanese, who lives in Brooklyn; nor Avella, a Queensite, are exactly exciting and new.
Fortunately for them, neither is de Blasio, whose bi-racial family was appealing to the very ethnically mixed City of New York. That’s old now. Even Dante’s famous afro has been trimmed down (not that he couldn’t regrow it, but who’d care now? Very few people, one imagines).
The Mayor has also not made a major dent with the homelessness problem. In fact, it has reached crisis proportions. Add to that, the Administration for Children’s Services is in the hot seat even as we go to press.
ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion stepped down earlier this week after her agency failed to protect two children this fall alone from their abusers of months if not years. The overwrought commissioner said in a press conference that it is better for her wellbeing that she steps down.
Her wellbeing! How about the wellbeing of the two little boys who died because the system failed to act in their behalf? As she said through her sobs, no child should have to die. Yes, we agree with that, Ma’am; and we are glad you are stepping down so that we can start afresh. We’re praying it never happens again.
These things, if nothing else, will haunt the Mayor throughout the election cycle. He’s man enough to take responsibility for these failures, but while saying, “The buck stops with me,” is a refreshing change, it doesn’t change anything.
So yes, Avella and other Democrats should challenge the Mayor. It will make him a better candidate and a mayor should he win a second term. Meanwhile, Avella’s chance of becoming mayor is debatable at this time.