By Carol Tannenhauser
On Tuesday evening, five Democratic candidates vying for the district 6 City Council seat, representing the Upper West Side (minus Manhattan Valley), met in a Zoom forum sponsored by the newly formed Upper West Side Coalition of Block Associations and Community Groups (UWS Coalition.) Present (alphabetically) were Gale Brewer, Maria Danzilo, Sara Lind, Jeffrey Omura, and Zack Weiner. David Gold was absent.
Chris Giordano, a long-time community leader and president of the UWS Coalition and the 64–67th Streets Block Association, introduced the forum. The moderators were Dee Rieber, president of the West 75th Street Block Association, and Steve Anderson, the Coalition’s first board chair, from the West 81st Street Block Association. This was the new coalition’s first event.
Questions were asked and each candidate was given two minutes to answer. There was no crosstalk, and it was all civil, even as clear disagreements bubbled up.
Below is a sampling of statements made by each of the candidates on the same topics. Many more subjects were covered, including the police, crime, NYCHA, the mental health crisis, scaffolding, preparedness for climate change, dog poop, and others. You can watch the entire forum directly below. It runs exactly an hour and a half. With the primary coming up on June 22nd, it couldn’t be more timely. You can also read our profiles of all of the candidates here. (The quotes below have been edited and condensed.)
Garbage, Safety, and Civic Engagement
“Just the other day, north of you in District 9, we got two ‘big bellies’ [solar-powered trash bins] in terms of the garbage. You know, those rats went away overnight. Overnight they went away! At $4,200, they’re not inexpensive, but we want the city agencies and the City Council to be proactive about cleanliness. That includes graffiti, sweeping, working with the sanitation department, and it includes organics! I’m really pissed that the mayor cut that, and I want it to come back.”
“I’ve been following Gale on Zooms in recent months, and I often say, ‘I’m going in a different direction.’ My platform is safe and clean streets. I’ve been extremely consistent with that from the beginning of this campaign. I haven’t suddenly decided it’s an important issue. We want our neighborhood to be a place where people want to stay and live, not leave. Unfortunately, that’s not the direction we’re going in. I would say, if you like the direction New York and the Upper West Side have been going in in the last couple of years, then, certainly we can re-elect leaders who are playing musical chairs with their offices, or we can go in a different direction and elect leaders with new and fresh visions about the direction we want to go in.”
“I think whoever wins this seat is going to have to prioritize bridging the divide and bringing this community back together. There’s been a lot of heated rhetoric, but I’ve been saying this over and over: we’re neighbors, we gotta keep talking and listening to each other…What’s been so great about this pandemic is that a lot more people have been able to participate in the process [of government], because of the technology involved. As we move on beyond the pandemic, I’m hoping to bring that technology into the regular meetings that we have. So, if, for whatever reason you can’t attend in person, there will always be that digital option, so that everyone in the community can get involved.”
“It is hard to get people engaged and to get people to show up to meetings and to make sure that you’re hearing from the various voices in the community and not just the people who show up every month. Some people can’t show up — people with shift work, people with small kids…I think it’s important to get out onto the streets and meet people where they are to make sure we’re hearing from everyone in the district, which is why I’ve proposed something called ‘Citizens Assemblies,’ which are randomly selected demographically representative groups of people brought together for a one-time setting to discuss certain issues.”
“A lot of the reason why stores are gonna survive post pandemic, with Amazon and everything, is because the people in this neighborhood care that they do. It affects more than just the storefronts and making the neighborhood a more enriched one. It affects crime. It affects safety. It changes the entire environment. The Upper West Side is a state of mind. It’s a fantastic place. People from all over America aspire to come and start a life here, and they feel like they made it when they get here. We have just this incredible opportunity to come back and show what we’re about, now that we’re coming out of the pandemic. This is something that we can directly influence together.”
Managing the Streets
“I’m a big proponent of bike lanes. I think we are transitioning to a bicycle-friendly city, but we’ve got to prioritize safety for everyone…We started this transition without educating pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, about what it means to live in a bicycle city. So we need an education campaign to get everyone on the same page, and then we need enforcement to make sure rules are being followed.”
“The bikes are a menace. Honestly, they’re an incredible menace. They scare me all the time. I’ve seen accidents happen, senior accidents….They’re big madness, and we’ve got to address it. People feel endangered.”
“I have two little kids. I also have my mother-in-law who’s 81 and lives with us. Our streets should be safe for children, for our elderly, for those with disabilities, for all of us to walk down. That’s critical. And I think that’s a core job of the council member, to manage the streets in the district.”
“I’ve learned that a very simple legislative change can be made, which would require bicycle delivery personnel, who are working for third party providers, not the restaurants, to simply add identifying information on their safety vests.”
“On the macro level, I have already called for what I call a ‘Public Realms Czar,’ because there are actually 25 agencies that work on this issue and they do not coordinate…I would say that the bottom line is coordination, making sure it’s safe, making sure it’s got some new opportunities, and never forget about the disabled.”
Gale Brewer has got it wrong. Big bellies are not the answer to our trash problem. You still need people to empty and maintain them.
Twenty hi-drek receptacles can pay the salary of one sanitation worker for a year. Rats will move to greener pastures for food where there are no big bellies.
I agree. The biggest negative for Bigbellies is that you can only throw out small trash that fits in the opening. On busy corners, we need multiple wire trashcans, not just one. That would solve the problem. Other cities do this.
Aren’t the street receptacles only for low volume, casual trash, i.e. a soda can, paper plate, wrapper, doggie bag?
By law household trash is supposed to go out with your apartment/house garbage.
Paul, I pick up trash that people leave on the sidewalk. Big pieces of cardboard seem to be a favorite item for vagrants to leave around. These do not fit in big bellies, nor does a decent shopping bag size of trash, which can be collected in a block walk on 72nd St.
More importantly, Big Bellys aren’t convenient to throw things away in. You can’t toss something into a Big Belly as you’re walking. You have to (a) stop (b) open the thing with the freaking handle (c) try to get your trash into the thing without touching it (blech) and (d) shut it and make sure your trash actually fell down into the thing. We need trash collection that fits the way NYCers throw things out. And we have them! Open wire bins. We just need a lot more of them. If you go to Boston, a comparatively spotless city, they have 3 or 4 wire bins in a row on some busy corners.
Eeek, sorry for the double post. I get so worked up about trash 🙂
Paull, I spend time picking up trash that’s left on the sidewalk. Often this is cardboard which will fit in an open round trashcan, but not the small rectangular opening of a Big Belly.
There is also the problem that it’s much faster to drop an item into the open round trash bin as you’re walking quickly by, than it it to stop, open the big belly by the handle, try to fit your item in without touching the Big Belly (ugh) and then make sure the item has dropped into the Big Belly and is not clogging the opening. Much less convenient. If we want a clean city, we have to make it super easy for people to use trash receptacles, not harder.
Vote Danzilo and leave Brewer off the ballot. Gale is beyond out of touch and is not effective.
Thank you – this looks like a great resource – I am looking forward to watching it.
In my part of the district, I have seen Danzilo’s team very actively campaigning and a few signs from Lind, but that is it. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more from the others.
I am more engaged than most citizens but the number of elections is overwhelming, especially coming off November. Mayor, city council, DA, public advocate, borough president, comptroller. They really should stagger them.
Anyone seeking additional information about the just launched Upper West Side Coalition of Block Associations and Community Groups or assistance starting or joining a block association, should contact us at email@example.com
Next Tuesday, it’s those seeking to be elected our next Manhattan Borough President, and a link will be posted.
Steve Anderson, West 81st Street
Can we be honest- Zack Weiner seems to
just be speaking his mind- love him. So honest about the bikes. I don’t want to get clipped. And so right about Amazon. What’s next UWS? This has turned into a more fun race than anticipated
Can we be more honest? Zach speaks his candid and refreshing views because he hasn’t been tainted by politics yet. But that also means he has “no political experience,” ergo he is unelectable.
And, so, the UWS continues its long-standing perfection of recycling – the same cardboard cut-out council members.
That was my concern as well but I’m beginning to think city council doesn’t require much political experience. It’s not like he’ll be back channeling with opposing parties to get bills passed. City council is a position that mostly requires good ideas and common sense. Zack seems to have that but I still need to hear more… He and Maria seem like the only rational ones.
Donald Trump didn’t have any political experience either. He still won. Zach can win if he gets the votes.
Where would Gayle put the $olar bellie$? On corners? It is the side streets that are totally overrun with rats. Especially on garbage night when the bags are out. I have to walk in the middle of the road if my route to/from home is on numbered streets. At least on the avenues, the sidewalk is wide enough to see ’em coming and dodge.
Maria Danzilo has been the most consistent, the most moderate, and the most relatable. I know she’s got our backs.
Agree with you here. So far she is the one focused on the key issues for the UWS residents, rather than promoting one group or one agenda like Lindt and Omura. And as many have said, Brewer is no longer really focused on the UWS and is going in the wrong direction. She has the biggest name recognition though which could be an issue as voters might vote for the name they recognize.
This is a very important election for the UWS along with the mayoral race for the city.
Lots of platitudes and “we should do something about xxx” Well, what legislation are you going to propose? What can you do with limited money and what takes big money?
How do you get the homeless into housing quickly? Saying you are going to add units as the wannabe mayors have said takes time. It isn’t going to happen by winter. Also many are mentally ill and need supportive housing. How will you get that? How are the the support services going to be paid for?
And, of course WSR needs a full session on REAL ESTATE. Are you going to support legislation to stop voids and supertalls. How do you get housing that isn’t for the super rich, let alone for the middle classes, back to Manhattan. How do you assure that the apartments in any new buildings are not going to need structural work within a few years?
I want to hear concrete plans and solutions. We all know “what should be done.” But how does it get done and how will you be part of that process?
Sara what are you actually going to do to make the streets safer if you are proposing to defund the police? I see violent mentally unstable people on our streets every day and I’m frightened.
Nothing, she is a woke ideologues. Should be avoided like the plague !!
“The bikes are a menace”
They’re a menace because the roads don’t accommodate cyclists. So they’re left to have to utilize sidewalks and dangerously navigate narrow lanes.
You wanna treat bikes like cars, let’s do that. Widen the bike lanes to 6-8 feet. Install secure biking. Enforce and protect the lanes, keep cars out of them.
Oh, just a reminder, 4 people have been killed by e-bikes since 2014, 40 people have been killed by drivers from January-April of this year. The deaths aren’t comparable
I think it’s wonderful that “only” 4 people were bike victims compared to 40 dying via cars. But you’re missing the point here: By & large as pedestrians we pretty much know how to navigate cars going up & down streets. And just as important, car drivers pretty much know the rules of the road — and obey them. Maybe one in a thousand roars through a red light — compared to one in a thousand bikers who will actually stop at a red light! (BTW, the few times I’ve seen bikers stop at a red light they are overwhelmingly delivery guys, NOT recreational riders.)
No, as pedestrians we’re not scared to death of cars; we know how to deal w/ them. But with bikes it’s a wholly different matter: They’re not just shooting up & down streets in both directions w/o any apparent regard for pedestrian safety, they’re using the sidewalks, i.e. safety zones for walkers, as well. Bottom line, people are minimally cautious about bikes or scared to death of them, even if casualties are much rarer than w/ cars. That fear will never go away until bikers overwhelmingly & religiously obey WELL-KNOWN rules of traffic safety.
Bikes are the newcomers. There is NO ROOM for them in Manhattan. They create enormous stress on pedestrians. There is NO ROOM for them.
It is well past time to end this failed experiment.
Efforts that encourage biking tear at the social fabric.
Cars and bikes were invented around the same time, no they’re not the newcomers. We’ve just pushed them to the side
And no, they’re clearly not a failed experiment if European cities are deeming them essential to their cities, giving them a huge priority, and having it succeed wondrously
They are also a greener and much more sustainable transportation option than cars. If we’re serious about climate change, we would embrace them once again, not throw them away like so many of you seem fond of doing.
Umm… bicycles predate vehicles by decades. So, not sure what this comment is all about.
Bikes, and Ebikes, aren’t registered and aren’t insured.
There’s little reason for an injured pedestrian to pursue a claim, so there are few reports.
ER and urgent care doctors can give you a better account of how many people are getting hurt by negligent Ebike operators than DOT/NYPD data shows.
Just because the streets are, according to this poster’s allegation, unable to accommodate cyclists is not a reason why adults should be allowed to ride on the sidewalks. If a cyclist is uncomfortable on a particular street, find another route or get off the bike and walk it.
Right, how is a deliverista supposed to walk with their deliveries?
I’m not talking about people who bike recreationally, I’m talking about an increasing number of people who rely on bikes for daily transportation. Claiming that if they’re uncomfortable that they should just walk is tone-deaf, and shows that you don’t care about our streets accommodating everyone. No, let’s make the investment to make our streets safe for everyone
What is the candidates positions on this new school curriculum condemning our history?
Critical race theory is a twisted, dangerous line of thought.
Politicians “playing musical chairs” is spot on and has got to be stopped. How can anyone think Gale Brewer is coming back to UWS w fresh ideas? Addressing current concerns? We need a problem solver w fresh eyes and not beholden to anyone.
The sudden pivot to candidates addressing crime, just before an election isn’t surprising. S Lind has repeatedly called for less police on the street, calling them triggers. Not sure how many in our neighborhood would agree.
I’m confidently voting for you Maria and ask my fellow UWS to so the same. Apathy has no place in reviving the UWS.
One main reason many career New York politicians don’t quit is because of pensions and other benefits.
From first days in office year after year, position after position they rack up pension time, it is all cumulative.
Lets not forget the move many State elected officials attempted and made when the City Council gave itself a raise.
So, you’re against pensions? Or just against pensions for certain people?
Term limits was supposed to bring fresh blood into elected seats. Instead it has turned into nothing but a game of NYC politics musical chairs.
Nearly every single race; comptroller, borough presidents, public advocate, a few city council races, and others are full of career NYC politicians.
Has Gale Brewer ever held a private sector job? Her stated reasons for running (again) for city council, because she held seat prior and thus can bring a sense of history and tradition to the chamber is rather insulting IMHO. She’s basically saying “I’ve done this before and will be able to run circles around all the newbies elected.
Term limits are a good idea. What was not handled, is elected officials moving on before their term ends and just after they were just elected. There are a number of current City Council members that have done this. Some are only place holders until the controlling party finds someone with enough longevity and similar ideology to replace them.
Gale Brewer wants to talk about everything except crime and how teens (and other criminals) are mugging people (and in some cases, slashing them). Crime is not an important issue for her. The community has gone downhill under her leadership and people no longer feel safe.
We need a change. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for but ask that it’s not Gale Brewer.
The dog issue is simple.
Before the scooper law it was “curb your dog” and the dog poop was horrible but it was on the roadbed, not the sidewalks.
The scooper law should stay but “curb your dog” should return, with a vengeance. That way the little bits left will be off the sidewalk.
And, what’s with letting dogs pee in the middle of a sidewalk as people pushing strollers, walkers, shopping carts, etc, are approaching?
Curb your dogs, folks, and then clean up the poop!
LONG POST! Apologies in advance
Last night I had dinner with a bunch of friends at Cafe Luxembourg on 70th. 4 of us, all friends from my building a few blocks away from the restaurant. During the meal, a crazy person appeared and tried to attack some of the guests eating dinner. It was intense and slightly terrifying. It’s unfotunately, happening more and more on the UWS. There’s too many stories of this type of issue happening. I also want to state that I’m 64 years old and I’ve lived on the UWS most of my life. I’ve seen it change in a lot of directions.
After the lunatic left (he later had a field day bashing some of the Citibikes across from the restaurant) my friends all said how unsafe they felt and how crime got out of hand.
About a half hour later we started talking about district 6 and city council. Two of my friends (I will let them know I’m putting this message out there) were talking about not being sure if they were going to vote for Gale Brewer or Sara Lind. They went back and forth discussing both of them. I finally said, “What are you most concerned about?” The answer, when we really got down to it, was safety.
If you care about safety, you don’t want to be voting for Gale Brewer or Sara Lind. They do not care about the safety of the UWS. Listen to them, really listen and it becomes clear it’s not on their agenda.
We need to think about what kind of city we want, and then we need to vote for those people.
I find Zach Weiner to be a really refreshing voice of reason. I also really like Maria Danzilo. Either one of these choices are excellent and I think they’ll be the change we really need at this time.
It seems to me that Danzilo is the wealthy person’s candidate ~ I am for Jeffrey Omura because of his concrete plans; his availability and regular office hours; way to reach him. Brewer seems out of touch as does Lind. Z. Weiner has some interesting ideas, but does not seem to have a concept of how the office as a whole functions. Again: Jeffrey Omura!!! Good and also by process of elimination, The Best!
Danzilo is the person for people that want safe streets. She’s the person that’s going to fight for that. Sara Lind is the person that thinks crime will go down when the city gets more busy -that was my favorite part of this video. Brewer is the person for people that really just want more of the same. I’m not really too sure about the rest after watching this video.
Voting for Danzilo and hoping more people take a long look at what the candidates hope to achieve before casting their vote.
Would definitely recommend giving Jeffrey Omura consideration for your #2 ranked choice. He’s my #1.
This is a race between brewer and lind at this point. Danzilo needs 50% in the first round to win.
I think all the people running sound like they’re sincere, but I also feel like this is a lot of smoke and mirrors. I’m not buying it.
How many of you watched the video where Sara Lind showed all the children outside of the Lucerne playing with chalk and having the best time of their life, and one of the homeless people said “Hey, they’re not doing this for publicity…they really care.” No, that was for publicity. Have the kids been back to draw on the sidewalks?
The UWS is in big trouble if we don’t get the right people involved.
I don’t know if I love any of the candidates, but I’m voting tomorrow Danzilo is the best choice. Anyone but Sara Lind. I’d be OK with Brewer just because I don’t think it could get much worse than it is right about now.
Sarah Lind for City Council! The next generation leadership that this neighborhood needs. Gale Brewer is a great public servant too and will be #2 on my ballot.
Lind and Omura actually have a RCV alliance, both are telling their supporters to rank the other as their 2nd! As an Omura supporter, I’ll be ranking Lind #2 and Gale #3.
Sorry in advance that this is long. Here are the current issues on UWS:
1. Safety and quality of life has really deteriorated. We need safe streets for families, children and businesses. Street homelessness, panhandling and vulgar behavior were on the rise before the pandemic and have gotten much worse now.
2. Bike lanes are taking over, particularly on UWS. Yes, it was nice to have the bike option for transport for some people. But to think that we can have every citizen ride a bike to get around is crazy. We need efficient transportation that moves a lot of people fast from one place to another. So rethink the city of efficient transportation rather than millions of people riding on bikes.
3. Support for small businesses and restaurants. There needs to be a rethinking on how to help small businesses do well by removing red tape and the cost of doing business.
4. Cleanliness and garbage. There is so much garbage everywhere. Honestly this should be the easiest one to tackle. Maintaining parks goes along with this, kind of.
5. Development projects that target middle income people and not just those who want to buy 3million plus units.
6. Bringing people together instead of dividing us. UWS is the most diverse and cultural place with people blending together across income levels, race, and ethnicity. Divisive rhetoric has taken over particularly by some politicians who thrive on this. 7. Street planning. The UWS is now impossible to get through. Amsterdam has been chocked with bike lanes, street closures and the way deliveries are happening i.e. Amazon, fresh direct, various trucks that have taken over apparently parking anywhere they want.
So here is how the candidates stack up against these issues.
. If you want a LOT more bike lanes to take over the mayhem we already have on UWS, vote for Omura.
. If you want a more divisive (rhetoric-filled) UWS and less safety, more homelessness and anti business practices, vote for Lind.
. If you want a person who is too distracted to do anything for UWS and will coast, vote Brewer. Been there, done that.
. If you want someone who seems to be best suitable to tackle some of the issues above and has said so, vote Danzillo.
Are you kidding? The love for Danzilo here is dumbfounding. Even if she’s well-meaning, she comes off as a lightweight with no concrete policy ideas, but she’s old enough and white enough so I guess that doesn’t matter here.
Thanks for the rebuttal, but I did not think we were picking candidates based on race and age. If there was a younger black (or whatever you think would be more suitable) person running who would first acknowledge the priority issues above and then care to address them, then by all means that person would be also a good choice to have.
Danzillo seems to be at this point completely focused on the policy issues to address the above. Here is her interview with WSR. Thank you for reading.
Really WSR?? Ive had posts screened and not allowed that we FAR less offensive than this racist/against comment. Do Better!
BTW, the likely winner of this race will be older and just as white as MD.
Thank you for the breakdown. I especially like your views on bike lanes and efficient transportation. I hope everyone will vote and things will change for the better. When I first moved to the UWS everyone would say they were ‘sooo jealous.’ Not so much anymore. 🙁
Really great summary – thanks. In the evenings I feel a lot less safe than I have in a while. My kids are approaching the ages where 5-10 years ago I would have had no problem letting them go places alone but now I am much less comfortable. This is priority #1, 2 and 3 for me and many others. Long term solutions are great, but we also need immediate solutions.
And please don’t tell me I am too sensitive, that I should move to the suburbs or that it was worse in the 1970s.
Disappointed with Sara Lind’s non-answer on bikes. Have supported her so far.
It felt like Gale was just not interested and she could care less about representing us or maybe she just assumes she has this race in the bag no matter what she says or does so why try? Every forum she is half interested in answering questions like it’s taking away from her busy schedule. I like her a lot so it’s kind of disappointing to watch.
I’m voting Jeffrey Omura!! We need an advocate for the arts, small businesses, gig workers, public housing, and safe streets. Jeffrey has proven his ability to serve constituents through his time as a labor leader in the Actors Union and he’d be a fresh new perspective in city hall. The next generation of leadership for the city is young but this is their moment and Jeffrey is leading the way. If you haven’t given him serious consideration, I urge you to do so. #1 Omura, #2 Lind, #3 Gale
Not sure why you think someone with arts labor union experience is a good fit for what the UWS needs. We love the arts and support the advocacy for artists, but what UWS needs now is to deal with street safety, drugs, homelessness first and to find ways to support small businesses and empty storefronts, and to deal with street planning and access to the area. So definitely Omura and Lind with their CRV alliance are bad for UWS and it would not only improve things but make it much worse.
Think about your vote very carefully this time for mayor, city council, and controller UWS!
Is that what we need the most right now? The Arts? That’s your biggest concern for the Upper West Side?
I read all these comments and I have to wonder if all of you actually live on the upper west side?
All I care about are safer streets. I care about walking to the subway at 6pm and feeling safe. I worry about walking down 79th Street and having to grasp my pepper spray.
I am not “woke” -I’m 72 years old and I want police to protect me and streets that don’t have homeless people shooting up. I want criminals to be arrested for their crime and not let out immediately to do it again.
Give me the person that wants that. It seems like the only one is Maria Danzilo. I want her. Then I’ll worry about the Arts.
I work in the arts — well, worked in the arts until covid — and live on the UWS. Just because you don’t personally experience a problem doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist.
And you feel in mortal danger walking to the subway at 6 pm on the UWS? Please get over yourself, or at the very least, turn off Fox News or wherever it was you learned about the word “woke.”
Are you saying the problem in the UWS is that the arts have been shut down because of covid? You think that’s the issue? Let me guess? You’re voting for Sara Lind? Jeffrey Omura? Covid shut down the world.
The UWS is a shadow of its former self and if a Sara Lind or a Jeff omura then you’ll see more and more people less interested in the arts. Crime will just go up.
You’re shaming a person for not feeling safe? People were shooting each other at 103rd street today. There are slashings and shootings and stabbings all over NYC. And it hasn’t been this bad in a long time.
restoring the arts is not the concern right now, it’s restoring safety.
I’m a 35 year old male and I don’t feel super comfortable walking around at night either.
I think Gale Brewer has been a solid public servant and District 6 would be lucky to have her again for City Council. I don’t agree with her on everything but she has worked very hard for our community. Her office always responded on issues that I contacted them about and supported those concerns. The fact that she’s been Manhattan Borough President would only help this district. And I find concerning the fact that some of the candidates on the UWS are sponsored by a pro-development group Open New York who want to make our residential neighborhoods another Times Square by chipping away with the zoning laws and building more towers in our communities. Those ONY candidates running in #6 is Ms. Lind and in #7 Shaun Abreu. I’d take Gale Brewer any day of the week.
Gale Brewer is out of touch with younger voters. This past sunday I saw her volunteers handing out palm cards unsolicited to elderly voters but younger voters wouldn’t get palm cards unless they specifically asked for one. It’s like Gale Brewer thinks she’s entitled to the council seat and only has to care about the elderly and not ALL of the UWS.