New York City will elect a new mayor Nov. 6. The following is an open letter issued by the Black Radical Congress, outlining their stand on issues in the campaign.
The United New York Black Radical Congress, like many other individuals and organizations representing people of color, is concerned about the tenor of the final weeks of the mayoralty campaign.
Some of us are registered voters in the Working Families Party (WFP). Others have voted and intend to vote for the candidate(s) of the WFP. Our members are deeply involved in and have some influence on the issues concerning our community.
We have a respect for the WFP based on the party’s claim to be independent of the two major parties and at the same time willing to endorse candidates on your line as well as on the line of another party.
It was our understanding that the WFP would always be free to set certain principles as a condition of endorsement. Further, that the WFP would not uncritically and unconditionally accept the campaign slogans and tactics of the candidates. It is in this regard that we now write this letter.
We were disappointed when candidate Mark Green decided to grant the term-limited current mayor a three-month extension of his term.
Whatever administrative and humane leadership given by Mayor Giuliani during the horrendous assault on our city, he did what should be expected in his capacity as mayor. We find it hard to accept that the WFP would think otherwise. Why then did WFP not speak against Mr. Green taking this position?
The campaign of Mark Green mimicked the cynicism of The New York Times when they placed ads accusing candidate Fernando Ferrer of ‘borderline irresponsibility.’ [Ferrar, Green’s opponent in the primary, refused to agree to let Giuliani stay on beyond his term.]
It is clear that such wording can be read two ways. What if Mr. Ferrer had won the primary, would WFP not have endorsed this candidate who was accused of being guilty of ‘borderline irresponsibility.’
Other campaign slogans of the Green campaign asked the question ‘Can we trust Ferrer?’ Again, to whom was this slogan directed? Who represented the ‘we?’
It seems that such an idea is acceptable for debate if we are talking about rich and poor or class divisions, but somehow this discussion, if it suggests racial problems, is taboo.
Let’s ask the question, did any such criticism occur when Norman Siegel [who ran for Public Advocate in the primary] talked about the inequality of justice in our city? Of course not, because we all know the truth of the assertion.
We don’t ask Mark Green or the WFP to agree with all of our criticisms. However, we do ask that some questions be addressed by both so as to return a degree of confidence that the new mayor will perform differently than we expect his adversary to perform.
Members of the Black Radical Congress are apprehensive about the economic perspectives facing working people in New York. We are also concerned about the issue of civil liberties confronting people of color all over the city.
Working people have no reason to believe that Michael Bloomberg will have their interest at heart. We think Michael Bloomberg will be a disaster for the working people of New York irrespective of their, race, ethnicity or religion.
We think, however, that Mark Green will be a far better leader of our city if he knows that we expect him to be more sensitive and responsive to the issues that so affect the communities of color.