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Opinion: Get ready, not Rudy

Columnist Mike Racioppo with the late former Mayor David Dinkins.
Mike Racioppo

2020 is a year unto itself, and hopefully, it remains that way. COVID-19 has made masks required fashion among the rational. Zoom is now a common noun and verb. All sorts of bad economic records are being shattered. New crises regularly emerge, compounding the problems raised by the old ones. If we left it there, it wouldn’t feel a lot like Christmas. 

However, on the sunny-side, President Donald Trump will soon be out on the street — the rare eviction that I can get behind. Highly efficacious vaccines seem to be progressing toward distribution. That is far better for healthcare professionals than the well-earned applause they were getting. Topping it off, the hell night of SantaCon is canceled.  All that, and we’ve still got nearly 30 days of “noggy” goodness left. To be clear, the previous two sentences were a bit of Simpsons-tinged gallows humor. Let’s face it — 2020 has been booze, beer, and wine-soaked to ease the awful, but 2021 doesn’t have to be. 

After 2021 our city will find itself heading toward new management. Like defeating Trump, making the right policy and personnel choices for mayor on down is an opportunity to reinvigorate our city. The first step to doing that is being registered to vote and if you want to be involved in the decision in most districts that means registering as a Democrat. Our primary will be held in June and not September as it was in previous city elections. 

Let’s think of what would have happened if the city had reelected the recently deceased David Dinkins instead of the now- and always-disgraceful Rudy Giuliani. All mayors face criticism for problems beyond easy resolution and that linger after they leave the office. For example, when Dinkins started murder rates were at record highs but were dropping over the course of his time in office only to have his successor take an undue amount of the credit. 

“America’s Mayor” or more accurately “White America’s Mayor” campaigned and governed through the lens of racial resentment much like Trump following Barack Obama. Mayor Dinkins called this city a “beautiful mosaic.” Dinkins rebuilt more housing in a single term thanGiuliani did in two terms. He also understood the importance of civilian oversight of the NYPD while also developing community-based policing. In contrast, the most conservative and Rudy-loving place in the City, Staten Island, still tried to secede and was rewarded with a free to ride Staten Island ferry. Can Rudy say socialism?

Dinkins was much maligned but had the city headed in the right direction. Even if he had faded into life as a private citizen after a second term, he’d never have become a New York laughing stock, the object of Borat based ridicule with dye running down his face as he debases democracy and pleads for a pardon.

Elections have lasting impacts. As the city continues to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, those impacts are more important than ever and will define the city we love. I’m not telling any readers who to vote for (yet), but I am saying please take it seriously. 

Mike Racioppo is the District Manager of Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 and has been an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College. Follow him on Twitter @RacioppoMike.

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