Two Downtown political clubs duke it out

BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | David Reck, who has been Democratic District Leader for the 66th Assembly District, Part B for seven years said of the unpaid job, “The district leader is a holdover from another era. There really isn’t a lot of power and authority. The district leader job really is what the individual person makes of it, and I’ve made quite a bit of it.”

Reck would like to hold onto his position for another two-year term, but John Scott, another Downtown community leader, is determined to unseat him.

On Sat., June 11, Scott held a press conference announcing his candidacy. New York State Sen. Daniel Squadron was there to lend his support as was City Council Member Margaret Chin.

“Nobody holds a press conference for district leader!” Reck said when told of the event. However, not only was there a press conference, there were T-shirts that said, “Shoot for the Stars! Vote September 13. John R. Scott Male District Leader” — and around two dozen people were wearing them in addition to the candidate himself.

Squadron explained his support for Scott by saying that when he started his own race for the New York Senate, Scott was the first person who supported him.

“He said that he cared more than anything about having representatives who really fight for our community,” Squadron recalled, adding that Scott also said, “If I support you, there’s only one thing I want in return and that’s someone who will really work for the community – and that’s who John is. He is someone who is an aggressive and effective fighter for the community. I would not be an elected official if it weren’t for John Scott and I am very proud to be supportive of his campaign to become an elected official himself. We’re very lucky to have him in Lower Manhattan, and I’m honored to endorse him for District Leader today.”

Margaret Chin was also effusive.

“It’s a great day to be here for John because John has been there for us for many, many years,” Chin said, “and I thank him for his support in my City Council race. He’s been here for our community, fighting for affordable housing, for our schools…. We need district leaders who are going to work for us.”

After the press conference, Scott asserted that Reck had supported Sen. Squadron’s opponent, then-incumbent Martin Connor.

“Absolutely a total lie!” Reck said. “Ask Daniel Squadron. I organized people to go out there and work. I did more – I even went over to Brooklyn and worked with Daniel Squadron. That’s an absolute lie.”

It takes 500 signatures from registered Democratic voters to get on the ballot. Reck figures that he will have to collect three or four times that many because he anticipates challenges from his opponent. Rather than holding a press conference, he and his wife, Eli Hausknecht, were pounding the streets on Saturday looking for people to sign the nominating petition.

John Scott is a candidate of the Downtown Independent Democrats. David Reck is the nominee of the Lower Manhattan Democrats, a group that split off from the D.I.D. during the 2009 race for City Council, District One, when the D.I.D. supported Pete Gleason and the splinter group supported Alan Gerson.

“The reason everyone’s concerned about district leader is that it does give any club more status to have a district leader,” said Hausknecht, “and that is one of the reasons why those who stayed in D.I.D. were very upset when David left.”

A number of well-regarded community leaders left with him including Linda Belfer and Jeff Galloway, both of whom are running for District Leader in the 64th AD, Part C against the D.I.D.’s candidates, Paul Newell and Jenifer Rajkumar.

As for why Scott and Reck want to be district leader, Scott said it’s because he wanted to “fight for progressive candidates.” Reck said he is proud of his record as a member of Community Board 2 for 14 years, chair of its Land Use Committee and founding member and president of the Friends of Hudson Square, which opposed “rowdy bars and clubs, advertising signs, zoning and development issues and street construction projects.”

Reck is also co-chair of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s New York University Task Force and said that Stringer is supporting his candidacy for district leader.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve been very effective. Most district leaders do nothing. I’ve done a lot,” said Reck. Then he returned to what seemed to be really bugging him. “I’ve known John Scott to be down here as an active person for a long time. I’m surprised he’s participating with D.I.D…. They’re attacking us. They have all along. We would just as soon they would go away. We left to avoid this kind of nonsense. That’s why we have a second club.”