Tribeca Film Fest street fair plans to rock the vote

BY John Bayles

This year’s Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair will have an new, added political component, spurred on by the recent population boom in Lower Manhattan. But like the film festival itself, the event will be geared to all audiences, at least politically speaking.

Julie Menin, chair of Community Board 1, came up with the idea to host a Rock the Vote campaign at the street fair as a way to take advantage of the new families and singles that over the last few years have chosen to call Lower Manhattan their home. She contacted Rock the Vote’s main headquarters in Washington, D.C. and then reached out to any and every political group in the city that shared her passion to register new voters during the hugely popular event.

“It’s the first of many events we’re going to do,” said Menin. “There’s 30,000 people that have moved into CB 1 since 9/11 and that’s a large number of new Downtowners. Maybe they never did a change of address.”

The street fair takes place this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Greenwich St., from Hubert to Chambers Sts. At 12 p.m. sharp on the main stage local elected officials will join Menin to kick off the event.

Menin stressed the bi-partisan aspect of the campaign. Groups such as the Working Families Party, the Metropolitan Republican Club, the Log Cabin Republicans of NYC, Manhattan Young Democrats, the Downtown Republican Club and the Downtown Independent Democrats are all co-sponsoring the event.

“I found out that they were having a registration drive,” said Lawrence Capici, the Downtown Republican Club’s district leader for the last 10 years, "and I thought it would be right for every party to be represented.”

Capici, who lives in Little Italy, also works for the NYC Board of Elections and said he understands and appreciates the principle of giving everyone the right to vote.

Of the opportunity the street fair presents, Capici said, “There’s a lot of people that are going to pass through there and it’s better to do it now than to wait for the deadline to come.”

Menin also approached the Manhattan Young Democrats, a group that has historically worked with a lot of the community boards throughout the city to help with voter registration. Spokesperson for the group, Kat Kane, said the opportunity was unique and especially appealed to the group’s desire to reach young voters.

“The Tribeca Film Festival, obviously is geared to our demographics,” said Kane.

Kane said for the most part the majority of her organization’s meetings take place in Midtown, in neighborhoods like Murray Hill and Kips Bay. “This was a good opportunity to expand our outreach,” she said. “Our organization’s purpose is to educate and activate young progressive New Yorkers.”

“I think since it’s not a big election year, it’s not a priority for most folks, particularly young people,” said Kane.

And Kane also acknowledged the population surge the neighborhood is experiencing.

“A lot of people moving to that neighborhood are young people and it is certainly an area we should reach out to.”


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