Assemblyman Alan Maisel wants to go local, swapping Albany for City Hall.
Maisel (D–Canarsie) has spent that past seven years representing parts of southern Brooklyn in Albany, but now he wants serve his constituents closer to home — in the City Council.
His Assembly district covers Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, and a small, eastern slice of Sheepshead Bay, so Maisel represents roughly the same constituents as councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie-Flatlands), whom he aims to replace after Fidler reaches the end of his term limit later this year.
Maisel says his motivation for giving up a safe sinecure in distant Albany to scrap for a term-limited Council seat is a desire to address the local problems his constituents care most about.
“When you go to a civic meeting, one can measure the lack of concern that people have about what’s happening in Albany,” said Maisel. “They’re interested in local, bread-and-butter issues.”
Maisel’s Democratic primary opponent, Mercedes Narcisse, thinks his desire is just for a shorter commute.
“Last I heard he was too old and too tired to drive to Albany,” said Narcisse. “That’s why he’s running for Council. He’s just too old.”
To be sure, Maisel does spend a lot of time on the road, often racing back after a day in the state capitol to catch the tail end of a neighborhood gathering, where he hears concerns about local concerns more down-to-earth than those he deals with in Albany.
“It’s quality of life that’s really the big issue,” said Maisel. “They’re interested in local, bread-and-butter issues. They’re worried about getting streets repaved, trees trimmed, what the city’s doing to protect against another serious disaster,” said Maisel, whose latest Assembly bill would ban shark fin soup in the state. “Let’s just say that if I brought up my shark-fin bill at a civic meeting, they’d throw things at me.”
His opponent, Narcisse, is a political novice more concerned about saving local businesses than protecting apex predators. A working mother and registered nurse who owns a medical supply business, Narcisse bills herself as determined, business-minded, and full of youthful energy — essentially, the opposite of how she paints her opponent.
“I have the energy, passion, and the experience of running a business,” said Narcisse. “I know the state assemblyman will say I’m younger, but that means I have more energy and I’m willing to work.”
While there may be something to Narcisse’s suggestion that Maisel would like a shorter commute — who wouldn’t? — her critique of his work ethic doesn’t ring true.
With the Assembly in recess for President’s day, we called Maisel’s Brooklyn office hoping that some forlorn staffer on holiday detail could help us reach the assemblyman for a comment on Narcisse’s statements — and guess who picked up.
“What else am I going to do?” Maisel asked, alone in the office on a federal holiday. “My kids are away, my wife’s shopping, and I’m not going to just sit home watching TV. I’ve got e-mails to go through.”Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn