Municipal Government

Poetry and Progress At City Hall

September 18, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco

Raglan George and June A. Berry.

Raglan George and June A. Berry.

New York, NY – Now that former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson has conceded the race for mayor to Democratic rival Bill de Blasio, organized labor can begin to solidly coalesce around the current public advocate. And DC 1707 Executive Director Raglan George – the man who has waged a year-long campaign to save public early childhood education – has some advice on how de Blasio can best Republican Joe Lhota on November 3. (Watch Video)

“He’s got to continue what he’s doing, and just be the guy that he’s been,” George said outside City Hall on Monday. “He doesn’t have to promise us anything other than what he’s been promising us all along.”

Back in April, the Democratic nominee for mayor joined George on his one-man picket line to help bolster opposition to outgoing Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s radical and much reviled Early Learn program. According to George, de Blasio is part of a triumvirate of progressives including public advocate candidate Letitia James and comptroller candidate Scott Stringer, who, if ultimately elected this fall, will help working class people “get their city back.”

“[Bill de Blasio’s] always been there for us,” George said. “He’s always spoken on behalf of child care and other issues. I think that he’s a very good progressive. That’s one of the things they [political rivals] fear him for. And I think he’s going to be even better now that he’s getting the support he’s getting.”

Although George’s union originally supported current New York City Comptroller John Liu’s candidacy for mayor, the DC 1707 executive director said that both candidates were favorites, and that his union, like so many others, are now eager to “sell” de Blasio to the rest of New York City. 

“Labor needs to support these candidates,” George said. “We have a great opportunity. We can’t miss it.”

Representative Gregory Meeks, the Democrat representing New York’s 5th Congressional District, told LaborPress that a de Blasio administration will “bring this city forward" so that issues that haven't been addressed over the last two decades under Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg, will finally take precedence. 

“Finally, someone is going to focus on public housing,” Congress Meeks said. “It also means the end of stop and frisk as we know it – individuals won’t be racially profiled simply because they happen to be African-American males walking down the street. And it means the end of closing schools instead of fixing schools.”

George hopes it also means the end of Early Learn as we know it. Retiree June A. Berry was so moved by the DC 1707 executive director’s dedicated efforts to shine a light on public early childhood education, that she wrote a poem honoring his campaign.

It reads in part, “This man is a quiet man but a strong man. He stands alone. Does this make him weak? No! Because this man stands alone for you.”

I come out here on behalf of my members,” George said. “But it’s very touching to know that there are those individuals who appreciate what I’m doing. It does touch the heart. It makes you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile.”

September 17, 2013

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