Add Ezra Friedlander’s name to the mix of possible candidates to succeed Simcha Felder in the City Council from the 44th District.
Felder’s sudden resignation last week to become assistant comptroller under newly elected Comptroller John Liu has the district including Borough Park, Bensonhurst and Midwood reeling.
Felder will officially step down Jan. 31, and Mayor Bloomberg is then expected to call the special election in mid-March.
“I am considering running and will make my decision before the end of January,” said Friedlander, the CEO of the Friedlander Group, a public relations organization that specializes in government affairs.
Friedlander said he has been approached by longtime community members that would like to see a home-grown Borough Park candidate who would represent the interests of the entire district.
“History would be made if I was elected as the first Hasidic candidate,” said Friedlander, whose grandfather came to Borough Park in 1947 and established one of the first Hasidic congregations in the neighborhood.
Friedlander said he has been assured by several supporters that he would be able to raise the maximum amount of money allowed by the city Campaign Finance Board to spend on the race.
That amount is $161,000 including $88,500 in city matching funds.
Either way, Assemblymember Dov Hikind is reportedly leading the charge, along with some members of Agudath Israel, in a an anybody-but-David Greenfield campaign.
Among the people that Hikind is pushing to run is either longtime civic activist Joe Lazar or former City Council member and current Civil Court Judge Noach Dear. However, Hikind reportedly doesn’t want both to run because that would help Greenfield.
Greenfield, who used to work for Hikind, is said by sources to be a reformer in the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community.
Dear, for instance, has had several ethical lapses, including one where he agreed to repay more than $37,000 to a private foundation under a civil settlement announced by Robert Abrams, then New York Attorney General, after it was found he used the foundation’s money to pay for expenses for his wife and kids.
Sources say that Dear, who as a judge cannot talk about his running, is strongly considering stepping down to run, but wants a clear path to victory.
However, if he loses, sources said that several district leaders will not support a Dear run to get his judgeship back in September.
Meanwhile, Lazsar said he has every intention of running, but won’t announce formally until Felder steps down.
“I have no reason to step aside for anybody. I think Noach Dear, being younger then me, should step aside and stay on the bench,” said Lazar.
Likewise, Greenfield, whose base is strongest in Midwood and Bensonhurst, said his hat is in the race.
“I don’t concern myself with who will be running against me, Regardless of who runs, it will be clear that we have the best plan to deliver results to this community,” said Greenfield.
Also running is Republican Jonathan Judge.
One longtime political operative in the district said he is staying out of the race completely because it will get ugly.
“It’s going to get down and dirty. Everyone is going to be digging up stuff. There will be posters being torn down and all kinds of stuff,” said the operative.