After three terms representing the Upper West Side on the New York City Council, Gale Brewer is running for Manhattan Borough President this fall. Brewer says she is running not out of political ambition but because her four decades of experience in city government make her the race’s most qualified candidate. But the candidate must balance the demands of the campaign with her City Council duties, especially as the council prepares to vote on whether to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of a pair of laws that would limit the police department’s use of the controversial stop-and-frisk tactic.
After three terms representing Manhattan’s Upper West Side on the City Council, Gale Brewer is running for Manhattan Borough President this fall. Brewer says she is running not out of political ambition but because her four decades of experience in city government make her the race’s most qualified candidate.
Brewer starts her day at the Astor Place subway entrance to hand out campaign literature. The campaign has targeted areas of Manhattan outside of Brewer’s bastion of support on the the Upper West Side. In a race in which victory can be secured with just 40,000 votes, Brewer can expect between 25,000 and 32,000 votes from the Upper West Side alone, according to campaign staffers.
A band of loyal supporters, including salesman Peter Moses, join Brewer near the Astor Place subway entrance to distribute flyers to passersby. “I GOT INVOLVED because I wanted to use government to improve people’s lives,” one of the flyers quotes Brewer as saying. “And I think I’ve done that – on issues as big as getting paid sick days for one million New Yorkers, to as ‘small’ as coordinating a new city war on bed bugs. I can do even more as Manhattan Borough President.”
Brewer makes a phone call while rushing uptown in a taxi to meet with building supervisors and property owners about how to combat rat infestations. The candidate must balance the demands of the campaign with her City Council duties.
A constituent stops to talk with Brewer on the subway platform, where the councilmember waits to catch a train downtown to City Hall. While Brewer is not universally recognized across the borough, she is well known among Upper West Side denizens.
At a 10:30 a.m. meeting of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections, Brewer votes with the majority to approve the reappointment of developer Philip Aarons to the New York City Art Commission. But Brewer, a staunch advocate of accountability and transparency, admonishes the Art Commission to do a better job of explaining to community boards why development projects get delayed for design considerations.
A 12-year City Council veteran, Gale Brewer is well acquainted with seemingly everyone at City Hall. After the committee hearing, Brewer confers with a colleague in a meeting room next to the council chamber.
Brewer speaks on the steps of City Hall to dozens of demonstrators who have gathered to urge the council to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the Community Safety Act. The law would create legal oversight of the police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk tactic, which opponents say leads to racial profiling.
The New York City Council convenes to vote on whether to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the Community Safety Act. Brewer, whose adopted son Muhammad is Black, foregoes the racial rhetoric that has characterized the debate over stop-and-frisk. Instead, she argues that stop-and-frisk makes the city less safe by driving a wedge of distrust between civilians and the police.
Opponents of stop-and-frisk fill the seats and crowd the aisles of the balcony that overlooks the council chamber. Ultimately, the City Council votes to override the mayor’s veto.
Brewer hosts an evening meet-up of open data experts at her campaign headquarters at 2510 Broadway. Brewer helped draft the most far-reaching open data legislation ever to be passed by an American municipality. The law will ultimately require every city agency to make their datasets publicly available on the Internet.
Ernest Modarelli, who heads Brewer’s social media outreach efforts, works at his computer in front of a poster that reads, “Share Your ‘Gale Story.’” At the opening of the campaign headquarters on the Upper West Side, Brewer invited supporters to record videos in which they would share a story of Brewer’s success. The videos were later used for campaign advertisements.