Brooklyn Boro President’s Race a Yawn

There are only two candidates in the lopsided race for the next resident of Brooklyn Borough Hall. (Photo by Wally Gobetz, Flickr Creative Commons License)

Brooklyn may be headed to electing the first African-American borough president this fall, says Linda Villarosa in a report in The Nabe. Four-term State Sen. Eric Adams and former Councilman John Gangemi are vying for the office. But many poll watchers are calling the race as largely one-sided.

Imagine this lopsided contest: The Brooklyn Nets vs the Brooklyn Technical High School basketball team — the J.V. squad.

That’s what the match-up between Eric Adams and John Gangemi looks like in the race for Brooklyn borough president.

A former police officer, Adams, 52, has been endorsed by four mayoral candidates, Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio, John Liu and Bill Thompson, besides the outgoing borough president, Marty Markowitz, former Borough President Howard Golden and several large unions. His campaign has so far raised half a million dollars.

Gangemi’s campaign is a bit different. He hasn’t been officially endorsed by any one, hasn’t raised a single dollar, has no campaign headquarters outside of his Bay Ridge law office and has no website or Facebook page.

Adams campaign recently experienced a jolt when his name appeared on the list of officials secretly wiretapped by state Sen. Shirley Huntley at the request of FBI investigators. But many believe Adams campaign momentum is unstoppable and that he could simply be “collateral damage” in Huntley’s bid to win lenity in her own corruption case. Adams denies any wrongdoing and has offered help with any investigation.

Gangemi, seeing an opening, spoke out [last] week. “Eric Adams doesn’t have a shot,” the 74-year-old lawyer told The Nabe. “I’m gonna whip his fanny.”

That seems unlikely.

“I don’t want to say that he’s not a real candidate,” says Robert Carroll, president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), who struggled to pronounce Gan-gem-mee.  “But is Eric Adams the heavy favorite? Yes. Do I expect him to win? Yes.”

CBID hasn’t endorsed Adams — yet, Carroll points out.

Many question the shortage of serious candidates for such a major office. Councilman Dominec Recchia of Coney Island dropped out to run for a seat in the U.S. congress a few months back. Others such as City Council members Letitia James and Brad Lander, both considered as potential candidates, stayed away maybe because they thought beating the well-connected and political savvy Adams would be an uphill battle.

Another reason for lack of interest by ambitious politicians could be the limited powers of the office. The 1989 charter revisions stripped the borough presidents offices of power over land use and budget decisions.

“Before the charter changes, the job had great power; you could oppose the mayor,” says Dr. Jerome Krase, author of the books “Seeing Cities Change” and “Ethnicity and Machine Politics.” “Knowing the limitations, now people often think twice about running.”

But limited powers may not prevent a new BP from building on what Markowitz achieved with relentless cheerleading – presiding over the transformation of Brooklyn, now the city’s fastest-growing borough.

Krase believes that Brooklyn now needs strong, focused leadership to match its re-shaped population. “We need more than boosterism,” he says. “Brooklyn has changed. We have people with more education, money and influence. I don’t think they are going to be content with not having political power.”

And, he adds, “neither should the borough president.”

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