2017-06-02 / Editorial/Opinion

Correcting the Record

It’s My Turn
By Mike Scala, candidate for the 32nd District in the City Council

In May 19 edition of The Wave, Joann Ariola, a GOP leader and president of the Howard Beach- Lindenwood Civic Association, made some dismissive remarks in regard to the field of candidates in the upcoming 32nd district City Council race. Speaking of the incumbent's potential challengers to his desired third full term, she stated they lacked the experience to do the job and had too narrow a focus on the issues, and suggested they would be a "rubber stamp" for the mayor. I respect the community service Ms. Ariola has done. As a litigation attorney and one of the candidates she mentions, however, I feel compelled to correct the record.

Putting aside the fact the councilman had just turned 24 and was hardly experienced when elected, the background I possess prepares me well for the position. My private practice experience gives me knowledge of the challenges small businesses face. The New York City Council is the legislative body of the largest and most important city in the nation, and my public sector work likewise equips me with the tools needed to be an effective lawmaker. I have written legislation that is now law and been involved in the budget process, helping allocate millions of dollars to the peninsula. The inexperience line simply does not work on me.

When it comes to being too narrowly focused, there are a few objections. If this is a reference to an editorial I wrote in which I demanded our leaders not wave the white flag of surrender in the face of political obstacles, a narrow focus is required in such situations. Those we elect must have laser beam focus on never giving up the fight for their constituents. If it is meant to imply that as First Vice President of the Queens Public Transit Committee, I only care about transportation, there are additional counterpoints. First, if a "single issue candidacy" were ever appropriate, it would be in this area and transportation would be that issue. Second, my campaign has already identified numerous priorities such as holding the city more accountable to our communities, stopping the warehousing of homeless families, investigating Build It Back and achieving better education and healthcare outcomes.

The "rubber stamp" charge may be the most egregious of them all. I have appeared in news outlets many times criticizing the city's plan for Select Bus Service, which was rejected by every neighborhood along the proposed route. The councilman claimed that battle was already lost while myself and others insisted the debate continue. This is not to say that I cannot work with this or any administration. It means the councilman cannot claim only he is suited to be a check on the mayor when we have called on him to be stronger in that regard.

It is my hope that this election produces a robust conversation on the issues facing the residents of the district. That can only happen if we speak honestly. Using the same old blanket statements as attacks is irresponsible, especially when they miss their intended targets. If Ms. Ariola believes this is the way to distract us from nuanced dialogue, she is doing us all a disservice.

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