Harary launches Council campaign

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Rebecca Harary presents her case to replace Dan Garodnick, zeroing in on de Blasio


  • Around 70 people turned out to support Rebecca Harary Wednesday, March 29, at the launch of her campaign for Council Member Dan Garodnick's seat. Photo: Madeleine Thompson

With a bust of Abraham Lincoln atop cabinets at the Metropolitan Republican Club, Upper East Sider Rebecca Harary presented the case for why she should replace City Council member Dan Garodnick when his term representing the fourth district expires. Harary's lively campaign kick-off last Wednesday night attracted about 70 people to the club building on East 83rd Street. Supporters included Council Member Joe Borelli of Staten Island, Adele Malpass, chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party, and Jimmy McMillan, of “the rent is too damn high” fame, who is running as a Republican for a City Council seat in Lower Manhattan.

When she took the podium, Harary introduced herself as a mother of six with an eighth grandchild on the way. “I want to thank everyone for supporting me … and telling me now was the right time to come back,” said Harary, who ran an unsuccessful bid in 2016 for State Assembly against incumbent Dan Quart. In an interview after the event, Harary told Our Town that she felt confident about her chances this time around, citing name recognition and allegedly widespread disapproval for Mayor Bill de Blasio as two of her advantages. Malpass added that running for an open seat is “a really different dynamic.” “This is a seat that [Republican] Joe Lhota, when he ran for mayor in 2013, won by 13 points,” Malpass said. So far, eight candidates have filed to run in the fourth district, six of them Democrats.

Opposition to the mayor was a main theme of the evening, starting with the signs reading “Stop de Blasio” that emphatically advocated against his re-election. In his opening remarks, Borelli called de Blasio “the greatest mayor we've ever had” because he has managed to unite the city against him. “What unites us is the disconnect we all feel from City Hall,” Borelli said. “I don't know what it's like to live here, but I also know that Mayor de Blasio has no idea the problems that folks here on the Upper East Side face.” Borelli railed against the City Council, of which he is the minority whip, criticizing the failed plastic bag tax and saying he couldn't think of anything the body has accomplished during his tenure.

Harary echoed Borelli's take on the mayor. “Everywhere I go, even in the grocery store, you say the word 'de Blasio' and people frown and they roll their eyes,” Harary said. “No one can stand him.”

Only three out of 51 City Council members are Republicans, but Harary said after the launch that the solutions to the city's problems “don't lie in whether or not they come from Democrats or Republicans” but whether they come from “common sense and clear thinking.” Harary, who described herself a team player, has opened four nonprofits for causes such as women entering the workforce and children with autism. She is largely responsible for the Moise Safra Community Center that is slated to open on East 82nd Street next year.

Joe and Deborah Aronow, who live on the Upper East Side and showed up to support Harary, are hopeful that she will bring some “sorely needed balance” to city politics. “I'd love to see a Republican who has values and can shake things up get into the City Council,” Joe said. The couple was encouraged by Harary's stance on getting rid of the commercial rent tax in order to help small businesses and on ending the city's use of hotels to house the homeless. They were especially optimistic that she would be able to stand up to the mayor.

At her campaign launch, Harary kept her focus on local issues. She only briefly mentioned President Donald Trump, saying she disagreed partially with his immigration crackdown because families should be able to stay together. Later, she clarified that any undocumented residents who commit crimes should be deported and said she would have to look at Trump policies on a case-by-case basis.

Attendee Marion Mischkin, despite supporting Trump in the presidential election, thinks Harary should take “an independent road” when it comes to Trump. “I don't think it would be an advantage, especially in New York, for somebody to put party first,” she said. “Harary has made a platform of putting New Yorkers first and I think that's very beneficial and very admirable.”

Madeleine Thompson can be reached at newsreporter@strausnews.com

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