City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills) may be the only woman in the race for city comptroller this year, but a rapidly expanding women’s group said that does not mean she is the best candidate for the job.
A growing female coalition formed last month by Brooklyn District Leader Olanike Alabi is throwing its support behind Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing). Women for Liu was scheduled to host a fund-raiser this week in Manhattan for the Queens legislator, fronted by the likes of U.S. Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-Ridgewood), Borough President Helen Marshall and state Assemblywomen Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica), Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and more than two dozen others.
Katz has by no means been bashful about pointing out the demographic difference between her and the other three Democratic candidates in the race %u2014 Liu and Councilmen David Yassky (D-Brooklyn) and David Weprin (D-Hollis). In addition to firing out a terse statement after the Queens Democratic Organization threw its support behind Liu, dubbing it an “old boys’ club,” her supporters were also on hand to pass out campaign literature touting her prominent female backers when Liu launched his campaign.
Alabi said the group was not formed explicitly with Katz in mind, but that it does not hurt, either.
“I don’t know that we formed this specifically to counter her,” Alabi said. “But I think it is important to demonstrate that we’re not going to support you because you’re a woman, we’re going to support you because you’re the best candidate.”
“It’s a way of just galvanizing a diverse group of women to support who we feel is the best, the most qualified candidate for the job,” she added. “We have women from all boroughs all races, different political affiliations.”
Alabi said during his tenure as a councilman, Liu has shown strong support for minority- and women-owned businesses, expanded access to neo-natal care for immigrant women and has been a staunch supporter of the clinic access bill %u2014 which gives protections for women seeking reproductive care in the city.
Alabi said the coalition did not feel as though Katz has adequately supported issues affecting women as a councilwoman. Branching out into different demographic groups probably will be important in the race for comptroller, expected to be one of the more hotly contested citywide races this year.
Katz has garnered strong support from the Latino community in the early going. She has picked up endorsements from the heavily Hispanic Bronx Democratic Organization as well as prominent Latino Coucilwomen Maria Baez (D-Bronx) and Maria del Carmen Arroyo (D-Bronx) and Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Corona).
“I’m both proud and grateful to have the support of such a dynamic and diverse organization which shares the core values of my campaign to stand up for working, middle-class families throughout the five boroughs,” Katz said last month.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at sstirling@
©2009 Community News Group
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