Law and Politics

Rosenthal Eager To End City Council ‘Budget Dance’

September 30, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco

Helen Rosenthal

Helen Rosenthal

New York, NY – The City Council’s rising Progressive Caucus can add another powerful new voice to its ranks should Democratic nominee Helen Rosenthal best Republican Harry DeMell and Green Tom Siracuse in the race to represent District 6 in November.  Watch Video

The former chair of Community Board 7 and number cruncher for the City Hall Budget Office, says that their values are “totally in line,” and that she’s already looking forward to helping select a successor to outgoing City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

“There are some rules changes that I think a new speaker should be talking about to make sure that the next City Council is one where more members can have a voice,” Rosenthal told LaborPress. “I’m excited to spend the next few months meeting the people who want to be speaker, and learning about their commitment to what, I guess is termed, the Progressive Caucus.”

Rosenthal, who beat out a contentious field of seven democratic hopefuls – including district leader and machine favorite Marc Landis – to win the District 6 primary held earlier in September, already has ties to potential Council Speaker candidate and Progressive Caucus Co-Chair, Melissa Mark-Viverito. 

When participatory budgeting debuted in New York City a few years ago, Rosenthal served as a budget delegate, as well as Councilwoman Mark-Viverito’s committee chair on education. 

“I think that the guiding principals for participatory budgeting are the guiding principals for the Progressive Caucus,” Rosenthal said. “How do we make government more open and transparent. How are we truly accountable to the people who voted for us and the people who are paying tax dollars who we are supposed to serve by having a good, clean government.”

Rosenthal originally ran for the District 6 seat seat way back in 2008 – her campaign was actually up and running for about three months before incumbent Gale Brewer decided to run a third time after Mike Bloomberg and his backers defied the electorate and overturned term limits. 

Although some have cast the contest this time around as the “independent” against the “machine,” the Upper West Side resident says she never thought of the race in that context.

“This was simply the race I’ve always wanted to run,” Rosenthal said. “And we never veered from that. So, it didn’t matter who else was going to be in the race.”

With her extensive budget office background, Rosenthal is eager to become the City Council’s go-to-person when it comes to better understanding dollars and cents.

“For years, we’ve had a budget dance that ends with cutting services to women and children in need,” Rosenthal said. “And the way I can be helpful on the City Council is to stop that from happening.”

As an incoming member of the City Council, Rosenthal says that she wants to help government  “serve its real purpose” by investing in things like truly affordable housing for working families, good public schools for everyone’s children and supportive services for the elderly. 

“When we talk about economic development and what we’re investing city dollars in, are these really the projects that reflect my liberal values – are they really investing in New Yorkers who need government’s help?” Rosenthal said. “I can add value to the City Council by identifying those places where we’re spending money or giving tax breaks to people who really shouldn’t have them. And instead have the money to do the things that we as liberals or progressives talk about.”

September 27, 2013

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