Vote Marte for City Council on Nov. 7

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Christopher Marte, right, in the Elizabeth St. Garden this past weekend at the garden’s annual Harvest Fest. A champion of the garden, Marte has vowed, if elected, to overturn the city’s plan to destroy the green oasis by building housing on it. The communities around the garden, as well as the Two Bridges area, are strong support bases for his campaign. AAFE, an organization co-founded and formerly headed by Councilmember Margaret Chin, is a leading applicant for the housing project. Photo by Tequila Minsky

A month and a half ago, we endorsed Christopher Marte in the Democratic primary election for City Council in Lower Manhattan’s First District.

Marte, 28, though a relative political newcomer, nearly toppled an embarrassingly weak-looking two-term incumbent Margaret Chin, losing by a scant 200 votes. He is now running in the general election on a third-party line, as the Independence Party candidate.

A third candidate is also in the race, Aaron Foldenauer, also running on a third-party line as the Liberal Party candidate. However, Foldenauer came in a very distant third in the primary, with only 700 votes, while Chin and Marte each garnered more than 5,000 votes.

There is no way Foldenauer is going to leapfrog Marte in terms of being the “anti-Chin” community candidate, so all he will be doing is potentially draining votes from Marte, and very possibly helping Chin win a third term. In short, a vote for Foldenauer is a vote for Chin. It’s a wasted vote.

If Foldenauer, as he says, really thinks defeating Chin is important for the health and future of the district — as we do — then, frankly, he should just drop out of the race now. Foldenauer’s negative ads against Marte show that he “goes low” rather than high. Really, what’s his goal in this election?

And Foldenauer has zero track record of community activism in the district. On top of that — he was a lifetime registered Republican until about a year ago. Yes, seriously.

Plus, let’s face it, voting in New York is often along ethnic lines. But despite a Jewish-sounding name, Foldenauer is a gentile, from Virginia.

On the other hand, Marte, without any doubt, is the community’s candidate. He grew up the son of immigrant parents on the Lower East Side, where his dad owned a bodega.

It’s no surprise that Marte is enthusiastically backed by most of the Village area’s prominent political clubs, including Village Independent Democrats, Village Reform Democratic Club and Downtown Independent Democrats.

The same reasons we strongly supported Marte in our editorial in September are the same reasons we do now: He always sides with the community and he always has the community’s back. Always.

Too many times Chin has let down or actively worked against the communities in her district’s northern end. Meanwhile, she has been nothing but a “developer’s doormat” in the Two Bridges area on the Lower East Side waterfront, allowing bridge-dwarfing “supertall” towers to be built and / or put into the pipeline for construction.

A young Marte supporter at the Elizabeth St. Garden’s Harvest Fest. Photo by Tequila Minsky

Only now, at such a late date, have Chin and Borough President Gale Brewer started to take any action at all to stem the tide of neighborhood-busting and gentrification-promulgating supertalls.

In fact, Chin is usually late to act on important community issues — whether losing an affordable Met Food supermarket in Little Italy or speaking out against a mammoth, illegally oversized Niketown superstore in Soho. She holds a press conference — when it’s too late to do anything.

And where was Chin on Rivington House when the de Blasio administration disgracefully allowed this beloved, deed-restricted community facility to be stealthily sold to luxury developers? Asleep at the wheel.

Chin was utterly ineffective fighting the New York University expansion plan — and now (surprise!), as reported in this week’s Villager, we see that N.Y.U. is willfully flouting agreements it made with her on the 181 Mercer St. project. Yes, she is the developer’s doormat. Marte would stand up and fight and not allow residents’ light and air to be taken away.

Early on, Chin flipped off Soho residents when they made it clear they didn’t want a new BID (a business improvement district) created to just further “mall” the area, making it even more geared to tourist shoppers and retail.

The issue that best highlights her arrogance, though, is the Elizabeth St. Garden, where only Chin and de Blasio are monomaniacally obsessed with building housing. Every other politician is siding with the community members, who cherish this beautiful, unique, heavily used, intensively programmed open space. Chin and de Blasio continue to snub a Community Board 2 proposal to put the housing on an alternative site where five times as much affordable housing could be built.

And the kicker, of course — Asian Americans for Equality, or AAFE, is a lead applicant to build the housing on the garden. Chin, of course, was a founding member and leader of AAFE. No, it definitely does not pass the smell test.

And, as we’ve noted before, the idea of putting housing on the garden never even came up for a proper public review before C.B. 2 — but was secretly slipped in by Bloomberg and Chin, and then endorsed by de Blasio. Contrarily, the development plan for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, had extensive public review by Community Board 3 and there was community consensus and buy-in. The Elizabeth St. site was quietly tacked on by Chin — without any notification to C.B. 2 — to provide more affordable housing as part of SPURA. It was a terrible and truly arrogant violation of the public process.

Marte has vowed, if elected, to save the garden and shift the housing to a more-appropriate site. He is not afraid to stand up to power. Clearly, Chin is — and, in fact, has been an enabler for development and gentrification.

Village Democratic District Leader Keen Berger showed who she’s backing for City Council in District 1. Her club, V.I.D., has endorsed Marte over two-term incumbent Margaret Chin. Photo by Lincoln Anderson

So many missteps, so much disrespect of the community, and seeming “self-dealing”… .

Chin has had her two terms. That’s the most that councilmembers usually get. She can only run for a third term due to the “coup” staged by Bloomberg and former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who together engineered a term-limits extension behind the voters’ backs.

Eight years ago, another incumbent in District 1, Alan Gerson, was running for election to a third term. At that time, feeling “two was enough,” among other reasons, we endorsed Chin. Now, we feel the same about Chin — but even more so. In too many ways, she has been a disaster for this district, and should be voted out of office. Two terms has been more than enough for her — and for us — thank you.

Marte is not conflicted, as Chin seems to be with her AAFE connection at Elizabeth St. Garden. Marte is the kind of leader we need — someone who listens to the community and who supports the community.

Chin, on the other hand, is controlled by City Hall 100 percent. If the mayor or council speaker says, “Jump!” she does, without a moment’s hesitation. But Marte is his own man — and would continue to be his own man, if elected. That’s why he has the community’s support, and why he has our support. Chin has her own agenda and does not represent the community. Enough…enough already.

Yes, we know, political insiders say many people will just “vote the line,” “darkening the oval” for the Democratic candidate. But Marte is confident that, if he can simply “remind” all his primary supporters to get out there and vote again, he can win.

If he can pull this one off, it truly will be historic. And, remember, he has the community on his side — so anything is possible.

Help make some history! Save your community. Turn out and vote Marte in the general election on Tues., Nov. 7! … And please… DON’T vote Foldenauer!!!

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