BRC features Mayoral candidates Adolpho Carrion, Jr. and Tom Allon.

19 Feb

In February’s meeting we met two news-making candidates for in-depth introductions to their campaigns. Having the floor in separate hours, they graciously offered ample time for Q & As– communicating on a level that resonated with most attendees.

After beginning by voicing support for LICH and introducing other local issues, BRC president Joe Nardiello introduced Mr. Carrion in the first hour, saying he’s the only candidate seeking the Republican nomination that has already won elections. The former Bronx Borough President and City Councilman has the support of Kings County GOP leadership and that of the Bronx. Mr. Carrion communicated strategies for winning as he highlighted his significant resume for seeking the Office. He has the nomination of the Independence Party and emphasized his independent run as symbolic of being apart of the Democratic Party’s special interests. photo-4

Beginning his public service as Director for a Bronx Community Board, Mr. Carrion recounted how he answered the needs of his areas from the grassroots, upward. Cleaner, safer streets and Education he said were common threads that he’d work to improve across all of New York City. He said there has to be a greater understanding of  Police procedure, and that “Stop, Question and Frisk” frequently loses the word “question” with the media. Mr. Carrion emphasized that NYC is failing our kids, judging by the numbers of inner-city students that are not ready for college and higher education. He recounted his opposition to proposals by the Giuliani Administration for a small program of school vouchers, saying that the City needs bigger more comprehensive answers.

He spoke of the City’s diversity, covered his background as a pastor and experience in business. Working alongside the Giuliani administration as Bronx Borough President, he helped guide development/retention of the Hunts Point Market, the new Yankee Stadium as well as over thousands of units of low/moderate income housing.

Mr. Carrion also has a national perspective, serving as President Obama’s Secretary of Urban Affairs for two years, and later added the experience of HUD’s New York region (Housing and Urban Development).

The 25 attendees had many questions for Mr. Carrion. One gentleman asked how he could be a better presumptive leader of the NYC Republican Party – than the last few Republican Mayors. Mr. Carrion answered that participation is a 2-way process and compared/contrasted his experience with both Mayor Bloomberg and many of the Democratic field.

In the second hour, it was Republican Tom Allon’s floor.

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The owner/publisher of weekly newspapers in Manhattan, Mr. Allon has been gaining attention for his innovative ideas on Education, and for being straightforward in his criticism of how to improve aspects of the Blumberg team. When introducing him, Joe Nardiello mentioned his standout performance at January’s Mayoral forum featuring 4 Democrats and 2 Republicans (the other invited was Joe Lhota) in East New York, Brooklyn saying: “if you haven’t heard of him before tonight, you’ll find yourself telling your neighbors all about him tomorrow.”

Tom Allon immediately said he’s a Republican that can win a general election, and recommended that all Republicans in NYC should set aside the social-issues that play nationally vs. GOP candidates. Mr. Allon knows first-hand of the immigrant experience as the son of parents that had escaped the Holocaust. Raised in Manhattan, Mr. Allon began as a teacher in Stuyvesant HS and credited discussions and mentoring from author Frank McCourt (who taught at Stuyvesant at the time) to encourage his talent for writing and journalism. Years later, Mr. Allon was the person who talked Mayor Ed Koch to begin contributing unabashed movie reviews.

Earlier that day, Mr. Allon had done live radio with NPR’s Brian Lehrer (click to listen) and an interview with the NY Post.

Mr. Allon briefly gave an overview of his family, but opted more to use his time to introduce a series of ideas. His process for improving education was well received by 2-3 retired teachers attending (one, later playfully pointed out the differences between teaching in Stuyvesant and Eramus Hall, in Brooklyn). Essentially, he wants to reform the process/profession of teaching by training on the level of how doctors are rehearsed, long before they practice. “After all, teachers are operating with our children each day.” He wants to cut through the unions and emphasis that protects teachers and a system, over tackling the systemic issues at hand — considering student graduation, aptitudes, and attitude for what they draw from education.

To get more revenues into the school system, he proposes selling the air rights above schools to private investors — in order to renovate far more school buildings with private sector funds.

photo-2Mr. Allon is an advocate for economic and job development, and for continuing what’s working with the City’s approaches vs. crime. However, he offered improvements for example how Mr. Allon feels newest NYPD shouldn’t be sent to the most challenged areas, because they have the least amount of training. When his performance in the aforementioned Housing/Mayoral forum was raised, he recalled how upon listening to the Democrats’ rants vs. NYCHA’s Commissioner and misappropriation of funds/repair schedules, etc., he called for all candidates to join him that very next day in demanding his resignation from Mayor Bloomberg. They were silent.

He spoke of how he’d want to approach the many unions with contracts due for negotiation, in response to a question that evoked the first years of Mayor Lindsey. When he was asked to define his toughness, overall…he gave one of his most memorable lines of the evening. “I’ve been in Board Rooms with some of the toughest businessman that NYC has seen. Put it this way, I am Israel. I’m peaceful, and intelligent dialogue is of the utmost importance. But cross me or attack, and I won’t hold back and level where you live.” Delivered calmly, it added a perspective that made attendees (later on) take notice and comment that he would be stronger on union contracts and give/take than they believed earlier.

At times, BRC meetings exceed anyone’s expectations. The candor of both candidates, and openness to answer any question (in detail and length) – left many with a great feeling about what’s to unfold in the Mayoral primary and race ahead.

One such reaction came from a retired NY public school teacher and faithful Democrat who was attending her political meeting of any kind: “both candidates were very interesting and considerable and more people honestly need to hear about Tom Allon – they certainly will, from me.”

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