Helen Rosenthal Fundraises for City Council Bid in a Competitive Upper West Side Race


It’s the most wonderful time of the year — when aspiring politicians across the city start to discuss their bids for public office and the large amounts of money they’ve already raised. Runnin’ Scared is hoping to catch up with eager pols across the city in upcoming weeks and we thought we would start today with Helen Rosenthal, a long-time Upper West Sider who is throwing her name in the hat for a competitive City Council race.

City Council campaigns for 2013 promise to be colorful throughout the five boroughs, since term limits end next year.

When Mayor Mike Bloomberg got rid of limits to pave the way for his infamous third term, the City Council did the same thing — so that many who would’ve been forced to step down ended up staying on for an extra term. Candidates who announced bids in 2008 were then forced to face long-time incumbents or drop out.

Rosenthal, a long-time member of the Upper West Side’s Community Board 7, was one such hopeful who began to raise money but halted the campaign when she learned that Councilwoman Gail Brewer would be keeping her seat.

But with Brewer set to vacate in the upcoming election, the highly-coveted spot in the politically-active neighborhood is up for grabs.

“I think the opportunity is going to be ripe for all the city’s policies and procedures to be re-debated and rediscussed,” Rosenthal told a small group of supporters at an intimate fundraising event yesterday morning on the Upper West Side. She was referring to the fact that over half the City Council will be new and will be working with a new mayor.

“A lot of people are going to run for this seat…I expect it’s going to be a truly competitive race,” she said. That’s why she’s starting early, launching her campaign 18 months before the election, she said, adding, “I want to be able to meet as many people as possible.”

Rosenthal was chair of the community board and also oversaw the city’s health care budgets for the Office of Management and Budget under three different mayors. She’s now the chair of ParentJobNet, a nonprofit group which connects parents to job opportunities. At the community board, she’s been a loud voice for addressing issues of overcrowding in public schools as several development projects have added families to the neighborhood.

She’s raised over $60,000 already for her campaign.

So has Mel Wymore, another long-time CB7 member who became chair of the board when Rosenthal stepped down. Wymore would be the first transgender elected official if he wins the race.

Apparently, Marc Landis, a Democratic District Leader, is also looking to run for the spot.

Rosenthal said she ultimately expects five to seven candidates to run for the spot. “I think that’s a democratic process, you know? I think that the Upper West Side deserves that and it deserves an issue-based discussion,” she told Runnin’ Scared.

The way that the City Council interacts with the mayor and goes about the job of land use and budget review could change drastically, she said.

“With the right people in office, you can take this unprecedented opportunity to think about things differently — the whole philosophical approach to government needs to change,” she said.