There’s a problem when you run someone out on a rail — everyone gets splinters.
While they claimed that voting out Independent Neighborhood Democrats President Kenn Lowy would help the club heal from a 2009 election season marred by political strife, the club may have actually caused more fractures to form.
The club overwhelmingly voted to replace Lowy with candidate Ira Cure with a vote of 68 to 13 Thursday — even though there were not more than 40 people in attendance at the meeting at any given time.
But sources said that the fix was in from the very start.
Upwards of a week before the club’s election of officers at St. Francis College, insiders knew that opponents were going to “pack the club” and vote out Lowy, who opted to take a leave of absence as president instead of collecting petition signatures to longtime IND member John Heyer.
Heyer, a protege of IND founder Salvatore “Buddy” Scotto, narrowly won the club’s endorsement in last year’s five-man Democratic primary for the 39th District, despite his conservative views on abortion and gay marriage.
Cure, a former IND president who fully admitted that he has not been active in the club for some time (he’s only attended one meeting in two years), said that his skills as a labor lawyer would “help resolve disputes.”
“The club has a great tradition of being one of the best clubs in the borough. It was known for having a lot of integrity, but I think we have gotten away from that,” said Cure, who said that “several people” asked him to run for president once he showed an interest of getting more active in the IND.
Despite his long hiatus from club activities, IND’s bylaws gave him the green light to run.
Still, others saw the writing on the wall.
“Your candidacy seems to reflect on an attempt to stop dissent in the club, but you’re the candidate of someone who tried to get our endorsement even though he opposed a woman’s right to choose and gay marriage, which I think is offensive,” said IND member Ken Diamondstone. “No matter what you say, you’re fronting for that guy.”
While Lowy had his supporters, the cards were stacked against him. Both Assemblymember Joan Millman and 52nd AD District Leader JoAnn Simon supported Cure.
“We need somebody to be there and direct the club and tell it where to go,” Millman said, adding that under Lowy the club didn’t hold a voter registration drive nor participate in the Atlantic Antic, which they always did in prior years. “You can’t have three or four people with a vision for the club.”
Simon said that Cure would help “build unity” in the club.
Lowy, who had been president for only one year, said he hoped to sponsor forums on health care and green energy.
“I want to lead this club with an idea and a vision,” he said. “We must do more with the community and for the community.”
He also said he wanted to “heal the wounds” that were created during the 2009 City Council race.
“I’m sure there are those who want me to walk out the door and never come back, but I’m willing to work with them and find common ground.”
That ground was pulled out from underneath him when the vote tallies were counted, although he took the news in stride.
“It’s clear that the club is going in a different direction and we’re not a good fit anymore,” said Lowy who admitted that he may be too liberal for the moderate bordering on conservative Democratic club.
Heyer, who was in attendance with wife and baby in tow, said that vote numbers “speak for themselves.”
“People felt this had something to do with my candidacy but that was not the case and I hope that the fact an overwhelming majority of people voted against [Lowy] puts that to rest.”
Heyer said he was “confident” that Lowy “will work with us as we go forward.”
That confidence may be misplaced.
“I have no problem moving on,” said Lowy, who added that he will have “nothing to do” with IND for the foreseeable future. Those who supported him may be following him out the door as well, he said.
with Gary Buiso