Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Jim Davis

AAFE Endorses Barbaro, Ross and Friedlander

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 6, No. 34, September 16-22, 1981.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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NEW YORK, N.Y. – In an unprecedented move for the Chinatown community, Asian Americans for Equality has endorsed three progressive candidates in local races for Mayor and the city council. Frank Barbaro, a five-term New York State Assemblyman from Benshonhurst and a supporter of labor and tenant struggles, will be running for Mayor in the September 10 Democratic primary. Nancy Ross, a leading member of the New Alliance Party which has spearheaded the “Dump Koch” movement in recent years, will be running for city council member at large for the borough of Manhattan. Council-woman Miriam Friedlander is seeking re-election in District 2 in lower Manhattan. “They have earned our endorsement,” an AAFE spokesperson said, “because of their proven records as fighters for the poor and working people of this city.”

The Koch Record– Cutbacks and Taxbreaks

Support continues to roll in from many unions and community groups for candidates Barbaro and Ross. During the past four years of the Koch Administration, many groups have opposed the mayor’s policies which have attacked the poor, polarized the city along racial lines and lined the pockets of big real estate developers with huge tax breaks. While boasting about a $200 million surplus in the city budget, Mayor Koch remains adamant in his decision to not reopen Sydenham hospital which he ordered closed last Fall. Sydenham a badly needed hospital which served the people of West Harlem needs only $9 million to re-open. On the other side of the ledger Koch has doled out $700 million in tax abatements to profit-hungry real estate developers since 1977. Ten of the city’s largest real estate corporations have responded by contributing $175,000 to Koch’s re-election campaign.

People Need An Alternative

For the past two years, the New Alliance Party, the Black United Front and other groups have mounted a grassroots campaign to remove Koch in this year’s election. Assemblyman Barbaro emerged from a crop of potential candidates earlier this Spring as the most experienced and politically viable alternative to oppose Koch. A former longshoreman and union organizer in Brooklyn’s waterfront, Mr. Barbaro has received overwhelming support from the city’s labor unions (with the notable exception of the policemen and firemen who have backed Mayor Koch). The most significant endorsement has come from the N.Y. AFL-CIO Central Labor Council. In the past, the council which has traditionally backed Democratic candidates has never endorsed anyone before the primaries.

Nancy Ross, a community leader in the fight for quality education and former member of the Community School Board #3, has received endorsements from a number of community groups including the Black United Front, Harlem Fightback, Coalition of Grassroots Women, Black Economic Survival and many others. Most recently, Arnold Cherry, a leader of a militant subway workers’ rank and file caucus in the Transit Workers Union has endorsed her candidacy.

On recent campaign tours throughout Chinatown, both Barbaro and Ross expressed their commitments to take up the often-ignored concerns of the Asian community. In talks with AAFE, the Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Association and other community groups, Mr. Barbaro pledged to solve the housing crisis which has plagued Chinatown. Encouraged by Koch’s tax abatement plan, many real estate investors are busily buying up land in Chinatown with an eye to building high-priced condominiums. As a result many Chinatown residents are being forced out by higher rents and evictions. “At a time when many politicians today are falling in line with the policies of the Reagan Administration to attack poor and working people,” concluded an AAFE steering committee member, “support for people like Mr. Barbaro and Ms. Ross is crucial.”