Vote for change; Vote Cude-Gault on Sept. 10

Terri Cude, left, and and Dennis Gault. File photo by Tequila Minsky

Terri Cude, left, and and Dennis Gault. File photo by Tequila Minsky

Most New Yorkers are focusing on enjoying what’s left of the summer right now. But there is a primary election coming up, on Thurs., Sept. 10.

Locally, the contest for Democratic district leader in the 66th Assembly District, Part B, is the big race. The district, which stretches from the Washington Square area down to Battery Park City, is currently represented by John Scott and Jean Grillo, who are being challenged by Terri Cude and Dennis Gault.

Simply put, this race is a case of one good pair of candidates facing off against another. Scott and Grillo, who both live in Tribeca, have done a capable job. Scott has been active on school issues and Grillo is a leader on the Battery Park City Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, formed after the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack.

Cude is an up-and-coming activist who has carved out a spot for herself on Community Board 2 and is co-chairperson of the Community Action Alliance on N.Y.U. 2031 — a  coalition of neighborhood and preservation groups who have been battling the university’s South Village mega-development plan. A Bleecker St. resident, she is the only one of the four candidates to live in the district’s northern part.

Gault, who resides in Battery Park City, is a public school teacher in the East Village and his school’s union representative.

In all honesty, this race was fueled by a political club war. Scott and Grillo split off a few years ago from Downtown Independent Democrats and formed a new club, Downtown Progressive Democrats. Why? Though neither D.I.D. or D.P.D. will say so in as many words, it was really because D.I.D. supported Jenifer Rajkumar in her race against incumbent City Councilmember Margaret Chin.

So then, returning to the district leader candidates, what is the difference between the two slates? In part, the difference is Chin. Scott and Grillo are allied with her; Cude and Gault are willing to stand up to Chin, and to any other politician, developer or university (often the latter two are one and the same, aren’t they?) that threatens the quality of life and historic fabric of the Village and all of Part B.

Also, Cude has made the fact that she lives in the district’s northern end a campaign plank, and we agree with her — it is important to have a political presence in this neck of the woods. Perhaps having a strong and passionate voice like Cude’s as district leader could have helped rein in the massive, overreaching N.Y.U. plan. We sorely need that kind of vibrant advocacy.

And, sadly, Chin is still showing she’s tone deaf to the upper part of her district, as she continues to try to push through an affordable housing project on the Elizabeth St. Garden when an even better site exists at Clarkson and Hudson Sts. We don’t need to enable anymore misguided plans right now — what we need is someone who has the community’s back.

That Cude has risen to the position of first vice chairperson at C.B. 2 shows that she is both politically astute and that her peers respect her leadership abilities. And her boundless energy is more than evident in the community events she has led, from teaching kids how to bike at Mercer Playground, to free document shredding. On Thanksgiving, you’ll find her at Le Souk serving free turkey dinners to those who have no family to celebrate with for the holiday.

The Cude-Gault team, in short, will bring new energy to this political office, which is, admittedly, unpaid and the entry-level party position, but which, historically, has played an oversize role in Village politics and activism. Cude and Gault are fighters, and would fit right in with that fighting tradition.

It’s time for a change. It’s time to speak truth to power. It’s time to stand up for our community and to protect our open spaces from wrongheaded development. Cude and Gault understand that, and they’re willing to go to the mat for this community. Scott and Grillo can continue with their good activism in their community — but it’s time for new leadership at district leader.

As for the judicial delegates on the ballot in Part A (the Village), Scott and Grillo say they actually didn’t mean to have an election, and this confusion admittedly seems to be part of the feud between D.I.D. and D.P.D. Again, they are all good candidates, but if D.P.D. says they didn’t mean to run a slate, then let’s take them at their word, and elect the opposing slate. This SNAFU, unfortunately, also means there will be an election in Part A, which will cost taxpayers more than $100,000, according to Part A District Leader Keen Berger, who tried her best to persuade the Board of Elections to call off the election and save the money. (Yeah, good luck with that!)

Anyway, whereas the judicial delegates race is arcane, the district leader race is critical for this community’s future. Vote Cude-Gault on Thurs., Sept. 10!

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