Out of the chair, into the council.
Community Board 15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo has declared herself a Democratic candidate in the race to replace term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson (D–Midwood), because she feels nobody knows her streets better than a long-time community board leader like her.
“I know every pot hole in the district, I’ve been working with the city agencies for years, and basically, I think I know the district better than anybody else at this point,” said Scavo.
But Scavo faces a number of electoral pot holes between her and City Hall, including a politically wired opponent and powerful identity politics.
Scavo cut her political teeth dealing with rowdy board members as the board’s vice-chairwoman some nine years ago, where community issues quickly fell way to personal grudges, according to the chairwoman.
“There were problems before I took over as chair, and a lot of the board members weren’t exactly on friendly terms with each other,” said Scavo. “A lot of the meetings were very confrontational.”
Community Board 15 may have been the Wild West when Scavo found it, but, after graduating to chairwoman, Scavo says she tamed the fiery board and transformed its volatile meetings into cordial functions.
“In the last few years the board has been very unified. There’s no screaming, people can voice their opinion, and the board is really unified at this point. They really do their homework, then look at each item that’s voted on, and they put a lot of time and energy into them.”
As councilwoman, however, Scavo’s attention would be focused less on fissures in the community and more on fissures in the streets.
“I plan to focus on infrastructure,” said Scavo. “That’s Department of Transportation issues — road conditions, implementation of stop signs, tree pruning, repaving streets, building larger sewers along Emmons Avenue. Plenty of issues.”
This isn’t the first time Scavo eyed Nelson’s spot in Council — she had plans to make the attempt in 2009, before the city council voted to extend their own two-term limit.
“If you checked campaign finance in 2009, I was running for Nelson’s seat, but because they overturned term limits I was basically told that the incumbent would win, so don’t waste your time or money,” said Scavo.
Overcoming the area’s Democratic district leader Ari Kagan, who is also running for Nelson’s seat, will perhaps prove Scavo’s most difficult challenge. Kagan didn’t have anything spiteful to say about his chairwoman opponent, but cited his overwhelming victory over incumbent Michael Geller for democratic district leader as evidence of his support in the district.
“I won the Democratic leadership with overwhelming majority in every community,” said Kagan. “I received 62-percent of the vote last year, so I will do my best to replicate that success this year.”
Scavo will also be fighting for votes in a newly drawn so-called “Super Russian District” against two candidates close to the ethnic Russian community, attorney Igor Oberman, who briefly ran against former state. Sen. Karl Kruger, and Russian-American attorney Michael Treybich.
Though the voting block may now be as much as 60-percent Russian speaking, Scavo is not concerned.
“Where is it written in the constitution that a district is a Russian district?” Scavo asked. “To me, it’s the district where I live, I don’t care what you call it.”Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn
©2013 Community News Group
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