By Steve Weinstein
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"I'm the first in my family born here in the United States," Hevesi said. "My parents were immigrants from Poland and Hungary." Hevesi mentioned his three children, but he did not talk much about his family, though he has an interesting story. His grandfather was the chief rabbi of Budapest. Fifty-five of Hevesi's relatives perished in Auschwitz. An uncle survived and also became Budapest's chief rabbi.
The comptroller dove into his favorite issues: reforming the public schools, stimulating job growth, building affordable housing, and eliminating police misconduct. Hevesi appeared at ease as he spoke, delivering detailed answers to every question. At times, Hevesi sounded like the professor that he is. For 33 years, he has taught, first at Queens College and now at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
When Hevesi promised to abolish Giuliani's decency commission and remove the barriers around City Hall, the audience applauded. The only glitch was when the moderator referred to Hevesi as "Mr. Ferrer."
After 30 minutes, the forum ended; Vallone and Green did not show up. Students with questions crowded around Hevesi as he tried to walk out. The president of the student government association pressed the candidate to commit to hiring an African American police commissioner. Local residents shook Hevesi's hand. Meanwhile, one attendee gestured toward the candidate and asked, "What's his name?"