From left to right: Cary Goodman, Bill Raudenbush, Helen Rosenthal, Mel Wymore.

By Carol Tannenhauser

A hotly contested Upper West Side City Council race is entering its last stretch before the Democratic primary, and the candidates are forcefully trying to stand out. On Wednesday night, four candidates for the seat now held by Helen Rosenthal met for a “Faith Over Fear” forum, held at the JCC Manhattan, on 76th Street and Amsterdam.

Rev. Schuyler Vogel, co-moderator with Rabbi Miriam Wajnberg, requested that both the audience and candidates “embody our best selves.” This was, after all, a “faith-based” forum, organized by the Faith in New York Action Fund, representing more than 70 diverse congregations, in partnership with the JCC’s Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility.

Nonetheless, it was hard to completely squash the tough talk and braggadocio.

“I invented the Senior Olympics and I did it right here on the Upper West Side,” said Dr. Cary Goodman.

“I personally am the only one to have organized the community to build our first new school on the UWS in 30 years,” Mel Wymore said.

“…luxury development – I’ve stopped everything that’s ever happened here on the Upper West Side,” said incumbent Helen Rosenthal.

Bill Raudenbush, the only Independent on the stage (David Owens didn’t appear), called Bill de Blasio “the most pro-development mayor in history.”

Then there were the attacks.

Wymore attacked Rosenthal: “Our Council Member has missed opportunities to bring people together. People in Harlem were not even included in that school rezoning plan. And, with the Museum of Natural History, people were very angry that funds were allocated without public input.”

Goodman attacked Wymore: “I know he’s been recently castigating the Council Member, but the same stone needs to be thrown towards him, because he prevented – or certainly didn’t facilitate – a public conversation about [the museum’s] land abuse, while he was on the community board.”

Goodman attacked Rosenthal: “Our campaign is concluding with a parade to celebrate the beauty of the park that our council member wants to destroy.”

Raudenbush attacked the system: “Something we’ve lost along the way, folks, is called ‘public service.’ Time was when people got into politics because they wanted to help people. What our city and state governments – and even our governor – have done is taken left-wing values and, with a D beside their names, they’ve placed money interests above them.”

Rosenthal made a plea for “staying with the facts” – then cited some hopeful ones:

“Over the past four years, as stop-and-frisk has declined, so has crime,” she said. “From 860,000 stop-and-frisks in the latest year of Bloomberg, to less than 20,000 last year under this mayor, we have seen dramatic declines in crime. This August, we saw the fewest homicides in New York City’s current history.”

“We are in an affordable housing crisis,” Rosenthal said. “The vacancy rate is roughly 3-4%. This mayor came up with a plan supported by the City Council that will get us more than 80,000 units of affordable housing, whereas, in the prior 20 years, we got only 6,000 units.”

There were no disputes regarding the rights and protections of undocumented New Yorkers. Referring to the repeal of DACA, Raudenbush said:

“This great country of ours is partaking in something that’s so inhumane, so reprehensible, so out of character…that we all should be shocked and bewildered about how we’ve come to this place. It is unbelievable to me that we could live in these United States and do something like repealing DACA.”

“We will give up our federal funding before we will give up our residents,” Rosenthal declared.

All the candidates were in favor of further decriminalizing minor offenses; community policing; and affording legal services to undocumented immigrants at the time of arrest, rather than at detention.

“These values,” Wymore said, “of diversity, justice, and inclusivity, allowed space for my own personal journey. As a woman of 46, mother of two children, I came out as transgender. And my community – this community – not only did not exclude me, but empowered me as the newly elected chair of Community Board 7.”

Concluded Goodman, “I just want to say what a great time I’ve had running. This is the first time I’ve ever run for city office. It’s really been a joyful period for me. I said to one of the other candidates, ‘Gee, I’m really having a good time.’ Blank stare.”

The field is fascinating, the competition palpably fierce. The Democratic primary between Rosenthal, Wymore, and Goodman is on September 12th. If you haven’t registered for the primary yet, you’re too late, but you still have time to register to vote in the general election on November 7th.

NEWS | 44 comments | permalink
    1. NoHelenNoWay says:

      Helen is not trust-worthy, and does not deliver. Even when she pretends to listen, you know those eyes are mind are thinking otherwise.

      Get her out of office.

      • MJ says:

        She’s awful. And she failed on the school rezoning. She claims an affordable housing crisis, but the school rezoning was partially caused by the luxury housing developments and she didn’t fight it then. I saw her at a community meeting to discuss the rezoning. In the first 5 minutes she stood up, said to the parents “Keep fighting the good fight” and then LEFT. She didn’t stay past 5 minutes.

        Buh. Bye.

      • Rachel says:

        Same as my experience with Helen.

      • Elinor Lipman says:

        I’m sorry, but the attacks on Councilwoman Rosenthal’s record and character seem so transparently from other campaigns and cannot be from actual constituents who know her, or have been helped by her. I follow her voting very closely and I hope other readers see through what appears to me as unfair character assassination from the opposition. I do not work for Helen. I am just a voter and citizen-fan.

        • NoHelenNoWay says:

          No, I am a constituent who has dealt directly with Helen on a problem. She pretended to listen, give support, and wanted data. We took her guidance, got data, and she ignored it and went against us because we were gaining traction and making noise about the problem.

          Several interactions with her on other topics, similar responses.

        • MJ says:

          I DO NOT work for Helen’s opponents. I am a mother and resident of the UWS. Her record speaks for itself.

    2. ReasonableAndFairFoMel says:

      Mel brings people together to find agreeable solutions. He has a long track record of delivery as an Upper West Side resident and activist. He is honest and dependable. As the most qualified and suitable candidate, let’s vote him in.

    3. Sherman says:

      Rosenthal, Wymore and Goodman are all running to the extreme left. In other words, they’re all pandering and lousy.

      (BTW Mel, thanks for free coffee in front of PS 199 this morning).

      Raudenbush is the only one of the four that has made some intelligent comments but I don’t see how an Independent can gain much traction on the UWS.

    4. UWS-er says:

      Wait, did Helen really say “I’ve stopped everything that’s ever happened here on the Upper West Side”? Not a record I’d want to run on, but what do I know.

    5. GG says:

      What a group! A real dream team in that picture there.

      UWS, we can do better than this.

    6. Tom Lee says:

      Not the most impressive line-up. Raudenbush seems like the lesser of the four evils.

    7. Actual UWS Voter says:

      At least the wymore people stopped trumping up the comments section, or maybe they haven’t started yet? It’s nice to read what people say without having to vomit.

      I don’t like Helen Rosenthal but she’s not up all night comment trolling, I can tell you that much.

    8. bruce Bernstein says:

      i was at the debate. I entered the room “undecided” and left “decided” — in favor of Helen Rosenthal.

      Mel Wymore has some good ideas, but he is not running a campaign that stands up to a test of integrity. At least some of the claims he is making do not check out, and he is hurling a lot of charges against Rosenthal, many or most inaccurate. On the other side, Rosenthal is sticking to the issues, discussing her significant record of accomplishments, and running a positive campaign.

      For example, today i got a mailing from Wymore stating in large letters on the cover that he was “PREVIOUSLY ENDORSED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES.” very clever language. But one would be left thinking that he was endorsed in THIS race. he was not — Helen Rosenthal was. She was also endorsed by the Daily News and the Amsterdam News.

      A week or two ago, i got a mailing from Wymore with a picture of a senior citizen on the cover, saying she had been “turned away” by Helen Rosenthal’s office, apparently for aid in getting a rent increase exemption (SCRIE is the name of the program). I was informed at the debate that the woman in question has in fact been on the SCRIE program since 2008. When Wymore was asked about this by an UWS voter after the meeting, he had no answer, other than “we just wrote what she told us.” Apparently he didn’t check the facts.

      there are other instances, which i won’t go into. but playing fast and loose with these claims makes me question Wymore’s other claims.

      • bruce Bernstein says:

        i should add the caveat that i can’t independently verify that the woman in the Wymore mailing was on SCRIE the whole time.

        I hope someone in the media looks into this. if it is true that she has always been on SCRIE, it’s a major mistake from the Wymore campaign.

      • InPS87Zone says:

        This may be a problem for Mel Wymore. There’s a Wymore flyer around claiming P.S. 87 has 34 students per classroom now.

        A phone call to the school would have debunked this.

        Someone goes with rumors.

      • HelenFacts says:

        Fact: A lot of constituents are upset and disappointed with her track record and interactions with her. Personally, I have discussed things with her and over time her polite demeanor is dropped to vicious responses.
        Fact: In the previous election, Helen used two false propaganda items to get an edge and win: 1) Vote Helen Rosenthal and Gale Brewer, endorsed by the NY Times (Gale was endorsed, Helen was not). 2) Vote Rosenthal (leveraging the large community support for Linda Rosenthal to imply they were associated)
        Fact: She sent her kids to private school. Her and and the “parent leaders” of the CEC (majority who go to G&T) are not impacted by any rezoning personally.
        Fact: She lives in a $7.5 million apartment, and her husband is investment banker.

        She is a politician in sheep’s clothing. We need a change.

    9. Jeff says:

      I attended this and thought all four candidates turned in reasonably strong performances. Their politics are fairly similar (and in line with the politics of most UWS residents), the main difference being their themes and focal points.

      My takes:

      Goodman: Well-spoken but too hung up on niche topics, like Museum of Natural History expansion and Christopher Columbus statue.

      Raudenbush: Inspiring and good with broad issues, like excessive power of developers, but not super-focused on the UWS.

      Rosenthal: Came across as someone who can hold her own at City Hall and who has won over previous critics. But not great at explaining her accomplishments.

      Wymore: Definitely had the sunniest personality and the longest list of accomplishments (via work on CB7). Slightly shaky delivery at times but nothing glaring.

    10. 47yrUWSider says:

      “Staying with the facts,” it’s pretty crazy for the partner of a Wall Street managing director to claim to be the champion of affordable housing, especially with all the new luxury buildings going up. Which ones did she stop?

      • bruce Bernstein says:

        she played a leading role in stopping (at least for now) the atrocious plan to put a luxury building (14 stories) on top of a rental building (6 stories) at 711 West End Ave:

      • Ben says:

        Do you mean that Helen’s husband is a major Wall Street hedge funder? Have you seen the photos online of her aircraft carrier living room when she briefly put her combined 5 apartment apartment up for sale?

        Council is a stepping stone for her. She has all the wealth in the world and she wants to be the next Borough President. Which is what she really cares about- we are all disposable on her trek to power. Cocktail circuit Helen.

    11. bruce Bernstein says:

      Raudenbush is an intelligent guy, and appears very progressive. But why isn’t he running in the Democratic primary? I personally don’t know why he was on stage for this debate, as he is a general election candidate. if you have Raudenbush, why not the Republican candidate? (is there one?)

      He identified himself as an “Independent Democrat.” in the last few years, that labnel has been used by pseudo-Democrats, such as the NY State IDC, which supports the Republicans in electing the State Senate leadership. So i had a few questions there.

    12. Ellen Landsberger says:

      After a sensible report of last nights debate, most of these comments are biased and not accurate reflections of the debate or the campaign. I’ve been disappointed in the attacks and misinformation by Mel & Cary against Helen, reminiscent of the politics of personal destruction that have been used to destroy successful women. I have found Helen and her staff to be helpful, concerned and responsive to constituents’ needs. She earned the endorsements of the New York Times, Daily News, and Amsterdam News because of her accomplishments for our community. As a recognized leader in the city council she will continue to work to improve our neighborhood.and our city, I urge her many supporters to get out and vote for Helen Rosenthal for re-election for another 4 years next Teusday.

    13. McKinley says:

      Helen does not deliver?

      Last week, Helen helped pass two new laws that will protect tenants from harassment.

      Law 1. creation of an Office of the Tenant Advocate within the Department of Buildings.

      Law 2. Increases penalties for performing construction work without a permit and increase oversight for buildings where
      such work has been performed. It would also require the posting of information concerning the occupancy status of a building subject to a permit.

      These laws are significant accomplishmints that will have positive ramifications for UWS residents and all NYC tenants; and I would hope that even Helen’s opponents would recognize these achievements.

    14. Paul RL says:

      I was flip-flopping between Rosenthal and Wymore. Having met them both, Helen’s social skills could use some polish and Mel seems pleasant enough, but ultimately my vote will go to Rosenthal. Overall, my experience with her and her staff has been pretty positive. She also helped cut the Freedom House homeless population in half and has been a key proponent of the AMNH expansion (which Wymore disappointingly just came out in opposition to.)

      I would like to see whomever is elected get to work on improving the quality-of-life issues that beleaguer us here on the Upper West Side. We deserve better than having to navigate deranged people, hoards of rats, and dog poop every time we walk down the street.

      See you all at the voting booth.

    15. Jessica says:

      Carol thanks for the great coverage. You really captured it!

    16. MIke K says:

      Mel Wymore: Your posted video on September 7th, 2017 blames Helen Rosenthal for rat attacks in Riverside Park.

      Your comment with the video says:

      Mel Wymore
      Published on Sep 7, 2017
      Rat have overrun the Upper West Side. It’s time to change our leadership and change our strategy.

      Perhaps it was unintentional, but your scare mongering video reminds me of this 1940 German Propaganda :

      Mr. Wymore on September 6th you spoke at the UWS JCC Faith in New York event about inclusivity, and the very next day – just days before Rosh Hashanah- you publish this horrific video.

      Is this your idea of creating an inclusive Upper West Side?

      • Ben says:

        Thank you for pointing out that after the Mayor’s office put out millions of dollars to fight rats the UWS received none of it. Thanks to Helen’s hands off leadership style we missed out.

        The UWS has had a rat problem for years, it exploded under Helen, and when money was around to help she did nothing.

        Saying that Mel is lying is way for Helen to deflect from her own faults or missteps.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          at this point i am so skeptical of all these charges against Helen. Ben said:

          “Thank you for pointing out that after the Mayor’s office put out millions of dollars to fight rats the UWS received none of it. Thanks to Helen’s hands off leadership style we missed out.”

          can you somehow verify this? my experience is that Helen is far from “Hand’s off”, and is very involved.

          do you have any evidence to show that the UWS got 0% of special rat-eradication funding?

        • Watts says:

          Re: upper West side rat problem’exploded under Helen Rosenthal’

          Whats your source? Is this just Mel’s anecdotal observation or does Mel have data on ‘rat population boom’ that compares the rat numbers before and after Helen’s tenure?

          Mel is supposedly an engineer, so he should absolutely know that there is no science here.

          If Mel cannot back up his allegation with any actual facts then he is peddling propaganda and he is intentionally stoking fear to scare UWS residents into voting for him.

          Mel’s video is not an exact parallel to Nazi propaganda, but its uncomfortably close, since he is using fear of rats as a scare tactic.

          If Mel had real integrity, he would acknowledge that Helen has addressed rodents in the park after all:

 ‘Last month Rosenthal allocated $78,500 through the Parks Equity Initiative for Big Belly Bins, new garbage receptacles that would replace the aging ones residents say allow the rats to easily access food.’

      • UWS-er says:

        I’m sorry, but of all the wildly offensive comments on this site, this might be the worst. You’re accusing Mel Wymore of echoing Nazi propaganda? You’re aware the rats he’s talking about are actual, literal RATS? Not a stand-in for an ethnic group? Honestly, get a grip.

        • Mike K says:

          I’m sorry, but of all the wildly offensive comments on this site, this might be the worst.

          Is this accusation worse than Wymore’s manufactured
          rat epidemic and his fear
          mongering video blaming this made up rat invasion on

          You’re accusing Mel Wymore of echoing Nazi propaganda? You’re aware the rats he’s talking about are actual, literal RATS? Not a stand-in for an ethnic group? Honestly, get a grip.

          So Mel’s shock video is okay with you, since it only stoked
          fear of Helen Rosenthal and not hatred of ‘an entire
          ethnic group’?

          Would you also rationalize this type of hate video if it
          came from Trump and it was directed at Obama?

          • UWS-er says:

            I have no idea what video you’re watching. The one I’m watching shows actual footage of rats on the UWS, in playgrounds and parks. It doesn’t superimpose pictures of Helen on them, it doesn’t say “HELEN IS TO BLAME FOR RATS,” it simply shows the rats. Which, again, are actually on the UWS. It’s in no way “blaming the rat epidemic on Rosenthal.” In what universe is this a “hate video”?

            And your previous comment, bringing up Nazis and saying Mel released this video around Rosh Hashanah is bizarre. It seems to me like you’re suggesting anti-Semitism, which is why I said the comment was offensive. Which it is. Also unfounded.

            If there’s some other video you’re referring to that I haven’t seen, I apologize, but the one I watched isn’t in any way what you’re describing. Please, please, please try to be less irresponsible with hurling accusations at people.

        • Mike K says:

          One of the most striking aspects of Wymore’s rat video is the sophisticated and the subtle way that it misleads by suggesting that ABC News, CBC News, and the New York Times endorse Wymore’s conclusion that Rosenthal is personally responsible for any rat increases in neighborhood parks.

          That is not the case and Wymore is counting on viewers to not research the source material.

          • UWS-er says:

            The video never suggests Helen is responsible for anything. It suggests there’s a rat problem, which many publications have noted there certainly is.

            • Mike K says:

              RE: “The video never suggests Helen is responsible for anything. ”

              Mel’s comment with his video says: “Rat have OVERRUN the Upper West Side. It’s time to change OUR LEADERSHIP and change our strategy.” (emphasis mine)

              He is not “merely suggesting” that there is a rat problem, but he is directly blaming Helen with his stupid video.

              I hope that you are getting paid handsomely by Mel for your rhetorical contortions of the truth.

            • Mike K says:

              Re: “The video never suggests Helen is responsible for anything.

              Yes the video does blame Helen, beyond merely suggesting that there is a rat problem.

              Mel’s comment says “Rat have overrun the Upper West Side. It’s time to change our leadership and change our strategy.” Its fair to infer that by ‘change our leadership’ Mel is pointing toward Helen.

            • UWS-er says:

              Ugh, Mike, I WISH I were being paid by Mel. Truth is, I’m undecided still between Mel and Helen. But your comments implying Nazi-like tactics on behalf of Mel are so over-the-top and offensive, it seemed worth speaking up. Again, try to get a grip.

    17. Ira Gershenhorn says:

      Forget the general election. This is all about the primary. Last time in 2013 the winner only got 27% of the primary vote, and won. Check wikipedia. BTW. The population of all NYC Council Districts is roughly 160,000.,_2013#District_6

    18. Political observer says:

      Here’s the difference between the two leading candidates from someone who knows them both: Helen is very political and wildly ambitious, although she did take an apparently principled stand on the school issue. She’s also a policy and budget wonk who has been responsible for some good Council legislation. Mel has a genuine love for the Upper West Side and wants to improve it and keep it from being raped by development. He has a better feel for the underdog, and his calls for “inclusivity” aren’t hype but based on his core beliefs. Goodman could be the spoiler in this race. He’s a one-issue candidate who will likely draw anti-Helen votes away from Mel.

      • Anon4 says:

        So you’re saying Goodman is the Gary Johnson of the UWS?

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        are you saying that Helen Rosenthal does not have a genuine love for the UWS? or, conversely, that Mel Wymore is not ambitious?

        I think neither is true.