Yet another person has started dreaming about the day when Borough President Markowitz is term-limited out of office — Councilman Bill DeBlasio announced this week that he will seek Markowitz’s seat in 2009.
DeBlasio’s hardly surprising announcement — he’s also term-limited in the Council— makes him the second pol to officially seek the Borough Hall post.
And like Councilman Charles Barron, DeBlasio, 46, turned down a possible run for Congress to seek Brooklyn’s highest, though not-that-powerful, office.
“I actually think it’s a great office,” he said. “Brooklyn is obviously the center of the most-important stuff going on in the city right now — culturally, politically with our progressive values and progressive ideas, and development-wise. The next borough president will get to shape a lot of that.”
DeBlasio’s base is Brownstone Brooklyn, specifically his Park Slope council district. But he strengthened his position a borough-wide race with his strong support for his then-Council colleague Yvette Clarke over Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) in a four-way race for Congress last year.
He’s also tightly allied with local labor unions, whose members came out in droves to support Clarke and can be counted on to support DeBlasio in 2009.
In an interview this week with The Brooklyn Paper, DeBlasio said he would emphasize his support for affordable housing and “protecting neighborhoods” from “irresponsible developers.”
He did not mention his support for the Atlantic Yards project, a position that has earned him substantial opposition from many residents of his Park Slope base.
Barron certainly focused on Atlantic Yards as a way of attacking DeBlasio’s “inconsistent” support of progressive values.
“He supported Ratner! He supported gutting Downtown Brooklyn [a reference to the Downtown Brooklyn Plan, a 2004 upzoning], yet now says he wants to save the Duffield Street houses, which were part of the Underground Railroad,” Barron said.
“And he supported the expansion of the 421-a subsidy, which is a handout to developers,” Barron said.
“Developers should not get tax breaks for building projects that are 80 percent luxury housing.”
For his part, DeBlasio said that he has “more experience” than Barron, citing his work in the Dinkins Administration as well as working in the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton Administration.
He was also a top adviser to Hillary Clinton during her successful run for Senate in 2000.
DeBlasio has $300,000 in his campaign war-chest and is eligible for an additional $200,000 in public matching funds.
Barron, by comparison, is broke. This week, the Federal Election Commission wrote to his campaign treasurer asking why the Councilman’s 2006 Congressional campaign account has “a negative cash balance of $1,375.66.”
“Bill DeBlasio needs to raise money so he can raise people,” said Barron, who spent just $135,000 on his congressional race against longtime Rep. Ed Towns and got 38 percent of the vote in a three-way race. “I’m raising people so I won’t need money.”
Though once expected to be a crowded field, the race for borough president has thinned out. Councilman Domenic Recchia has opted to battle Rep. Vito Fossella next year for the sole New York City Republican’s tenuous Bay Ridge-Staten Island seat. And Councilmen Simcha Felder (D–Borough Park) and Yassky have opted to run for City Comptroller.