Sometimes, nothing says so much as an empty seat. At least that’s what a lot of Roosevelt Islanders thought last night when Anthony Weiner didn’t show for a debate with Gifford Miller at a church on the charming island’s Main Street. Folks were already irritated that Fernando Ferrer had accepted and then cancelled, and that Virginia Fields never even responded, according to Roosevelt Island Residents Association members who organized the event.
Of course, with a week to go before the primary and a city of 8 million to cover, campaigns have to pick and choose which voters to target. But that’s cold comfort to those who get skipped. When Weiner’s campaign aide Harry Chernoff filled in for the congressman, the disappointment in the pews was palpable, because Roosevelt Islanders have a batch of unique beefs with government. Owned by the city and leased to the state, the island is administered by an unelected board that many in Tuesday night’s crowd feel is unresponsive to the community.
Then a buoyant Miller arrived and began recounting the details of island policy debates past and the names of former members of the Roosevelt Island Operating Board. He seemed to win over just about anyone who wasn’t already planning on voting for the man who has represented the Island in the City Council since 1997. Like the saying goes, half of life is showing up.