Over the next few days, we will have a chance to elect a true friend of our community to the City Council, to fight back against the anti-Semitic Left’s attempt to build political power and to show how the new system of ranked choice voting can help us to elect candidates who are more representative of the public and more attuned to our concerns. We can accomplish all those things by voting early between now and January 31 or going to our regular polling places on Tuesday, February 2, and casting our #1 votes for Jim Gennaro. It is a Special Election, and all registered voters can participate. To find out where to vote, go to www.findmypollsite.vote.nyc.
This will be the first election in New York City to use ranked choice voting. You can vote for up to five candidates ranking them from #1 to #5. Under the old system, the candidate with a plurality of the vote won the primary. This meant that in a crowded field, a candidate who is totally unacceptable to the majority of the voters could win because his/her opponents split the votes. This often presented us with a dilemma. In elections where candidates who were hostile to our interests had a serious chance of winning, we were forced to choose between voting for the candidate we really wanted and risk wasting our vote and paving the way for a disastrous result, or voting for the lesser of two evils to prevent the greater evil from triumphing.
With ranked choice voting, we do not have to compromise. We can cast our #1 vote for our preferred candidate, and rank up to four other candidates by ranking them from #2 to #5. We can support our preferred candidate with pride and confidence, knowing that even if he/she falls short, our votes will not be wasted. They will go to our next choice.
There are several good candidates to choose from. Standing out among them is Former Council Member James Gennaro. In my career of more than 40 years, which included a stint as Special Assistant to the Speaker of the New York City Council, I have worked with literally hundreds of elected officials. Many of them were supportive of the needs of our community. But if I had to single out one non-Jewish public official as the one who best served the Jewish community, in general, and the Torah-observant community in particular, the choice would not be difficult. It would clearly be Jim Gennaro.
When even many Jewish organizations were timid, it was Jim Gennaro who organized rallies to support Israel. While Jim Gennaro does not share our faith, he shares many of our traditional values, and he was willing to stand up for our rights to live by those values. Jim Gennaro made sure that our community organizations received their fair share of government funding. When Jim Gennaro says that he will fight for our community, it is not a campaign promise. We can count on him to deliver for us. He’s done it before, and he will do it again.
While there are several good candidates in the Special Election, there is one we must make sure to defeat. The anti-Semitic, socialist Left is making a concerted effort to expand its political power by running candidates for the City Council across the city. Their choice in our district is Moumita Ahmed, whose tweets have included “From Ferguson to Palestine, occupation is a crime.” A victory for an avowed supporter of the Palestinian cause and who is openly hostile to Israel in a district that includes the heart of Jewish Queens would be devastating.
The ranked choice system gives us the opportunity to oppose Moumita Ahmed by casting our #2 to #4 votes for other candidates. Neeta Jain, Dilip Nath, and Deepti Sharma all have solid records of reaching out to and working with our community. If Jim Gennaro were not in the race, I would have a difficult time choosing between these three fine candidates. Please be sure to cast your #2 to #4 votes for Neeta Jain, Dilip Nath, and Deepti Sharma in any order.
While emotions ran high in the Presidential election, the race for the City Council will actually have more impact on the quality of life in our neighborhoods. That is why it is imperative for all of us to vote in the Special Election on Tuesday, February 2.
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are solely the author’s. The Queens Jewish Link does not endorse any political candidate.