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Last gasp of the GOP in Bay Ridge?

The Brooklyn Paper
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The battle between a Democratic incumbent and a Republican upstart isn’t just a race for Bay Ridge’s Council seat — it’s a litmus test for conservatives in the borough’s longtime right-wing stronghold.

In the so-called “Fray by the Bay,” one-time grocer, longtime community activist, and current adjunct professor Bob Capano is attacking Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) for his sometimes adversarial relationship with the mayor, his allegiance to slush-fund-tarnished Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and even the recent reduction in garbage basket pick-ups on commercial streets.

“The previous councilman funded twice-a-day basket pickups on our local avenues — Gentile did not continue that, and our streets are more dirty as a result,” said Capano, a one-time staffer to scandal-scarred former Rep. Vito Fossella (R–Bay Ridge) as well as Borough President Markowitz.

The Republican candidate is also going after Gentile for not hosting a single town hall meeting throughout his seven years in office.

“The councilmem­ber’s main job is to work with city agencies to make sure that they deliver for his constituents, but he hasn’t had a single town hall — either because he doesn’t think it’s important, or because he doesn’t have a good enough relationship with the agencies to make it happen,” Capano said.

For his part, Gentile, who took office in 2003 after a special election and was re-elected to his first full term in 2005, touted his resume.

The incumbent, who chairs the Council’s Libraries committee, said he secured locations for three new schools and funded four expansions planned for one city’s most-overcrowded districts; lined up over $4 million of investments in Bay Ridge parkland; brought the beloved Bay Ridge Greenmarket to the parking lot of Walgreens; and led the fight against transit cuts.

“I’ve developed an office with the ultimate goal being the addressing of residents’ concerns and worries,” said the councilman. “I want to make sure our families, students and neighborhoods are taken care of the way they deserve to be, no matter what.”

Conservatives acknowledge it will be hard to unseat a Democratic incumbent in one of the nation’s most liberal counties, but they say they’ve got a fighting shot.

Though Capano was blown out by 40 percentage points in his failed campaign against Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D–Bay Ridge) last fall, he managed to snag 53 percent of the Bay Ridge portion of that sprawling district — enough to convince Brooklyn Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar that the one-time loser has what it takes to beat Gentile on Nov. 3.

“Is he running against a tough incumbent? Yes — but he’s running in an area where there is certainly a history of Republican voting,” said Kassar. “People have pulled the lever for Bob Capano in large numbers before. I wouldn’t be putting this kind of time into it if I didn’t think there was a real chance.”

But Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf told The Brooklyn Paper that it won’t be easy for Capano to win in Bay Ridge, despite the neighborhood’s conservative history.

“Is Gentile beatable? The demographics are against it because the district is changing,” he said. “The district is becoming more Democratic, not more Republican.”

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Reader Feedback

Ed Seergy from Dyker Heights says:
Nice hatchet job.

From the negative headline to the mandatory reference to Capano's former employer, to the pontifications of a diehard Democrat consultant, there's only one thing missing from this story: a disclaimer stating that it was paid for by Vincent Gentile's re-election campaign.

If you're going to reach into the past and tar Capano because his former employer was scandalized, you ought to mention the numerous sexual harassment accusations made against Gentile by his former male staffers. Or his self-prostitution by claiming to be a lifelong supporter of gay rights while voting against it to curry favor with more traditional voters.

And for the record, your view of local Republicans is indistinguishable from national Republicans, which any political science buff can tell you is dead wrong.

But why would anyone want to bother with accuracy or fairness? There's a competitive Republican candidate running, so that means he has to be bashed, criticized, marginalized or ignored.

The Brooklyn Paper should be ashamed. You used to give candidates -- regardless of party -- a fair shake. What happened to you?
Oct. 29, 2009, 12:29 pm
Harry from Bay Ridge says:
Speaking of accuracy and fairness:
Capano's former employer wasn't just "scandalized" (as if it was accidental or was "done to" him): While maintaining a front as a conservative family-values Republican and a good Catholic, Fossella concealed a years-long extramarital affair, fathered an extramarital child, his father and brother were paying off the child's mother, and it all unraveled when Fossella was nabbed for DWI.
You can't expect people to blow off the negativity -- because these events weren't just old "accusations": they were factual; they were recent (2008 ); and Capano wasn't just a file clerk -- he ran Fossella's Brooklyn operations even after this hit the fan.
Oct. 30, 2009, 5:22 am
jeff from Bensonhurst says:
Should Capano just have quit and given up his livelihhod in this economy? or continued to work, as he did, to help consituents with their problems?

I think if the office just shut down, some would just then say the office gave up and no longer fulfilled their responsibilities. I think its a credit to Capano and others there that despite what Fossella did, they continued to try to help constituents..
Oct. 30, 2009, 12:37 pm
a says:
Vote for Bob Capano if you want change, lower taxes, and accountability.
Oct. 30, 2009, 2:01 pm
Alec from BR says:
No way.
Nov. 1, 2009, 1:56 am
Colby Hamilton from Brooklyn says:
I had the opportunity to ride with the GOP as Capano and other candidates barnstormed this last weekend before Election Day. With this article in mind, check out my post here: http://bit.ly/yxR3m
Nov. 3, 2009, 12:19 am

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