“I am in this because I’m angry,” Gene Berardelli told Sheepshead Bites over the phone on Sunday about his plans to run for City Council.
Berardelli formally announces tonight at the Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association meeting that he will be campaigning for the seat of Lew Fidler in the 46th City Council District. He’ll be the sole contender for the Republican Party, Conservative Party, and the Independence Party.
The legal counsel of the SB/PB Civic – and habitual nettle to the established powers – has been mulling his run for some time. He spoke about his campaign with Sheepshead Bites during a Sunday interview, but asked that we wait until the start of the civic meeting to make it public.
Berardelli’s anger is targeted at the incumbent councilman, Fidler, who he says is more concerned with being Assistant Majority Leader of the council and being a thorn in the mayor’s side than in engaging in small-scale neighborhood issues.
“I think he’s a good man and his heart is in the right place,” Berardelli said. “But I think he’s been in there too long to be effective.”
Fidler has been councilman for the 46th District for eight years. His term would be up if not for the mayor’s proposal to eliminate term limits, which the City Council passed and Fidler voted for. The 46th District represents Plumb Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Marine Park, Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin and Canarsie.
Berardelli is most angered by Fidler’s role as a “roadblock in front of the community.”
In order to get things done, he said, “The community had to prove itself worthy of Fidler’s help, and then once we put in the blood sweat and tears, he was right there at the end to accept the credit.” Berardelli added, “He’ll tell you that he was the first in the community to talk of ‘downzoning,’ but ultimately, that’s all he did – talk. The community acted. And I’m proud to say that I was at the forefront of that action.”
Berardelli has a long, tough fight ahead of him. It’s an uphill battle to fight against one of the city’s most influential council members. As Assistant Majority Leader, Fidler has the ear of City Council leadership, and in the media he is the frequently cited foe of the increasingly unpopular Mayor Bloomberg.
But Berardelli plans to bring his fight to the people. “I’m going to go to every neighborhood and introduce myself and show all the things I’ve gotten done despite government roadblocks,” he said.
Among his accomplishments, Berardelli played an integral role in the rezoning of Sheepshead Bay and the development of Brigham Street Park, and continues to lead efforts to clean the Plumb Beach waterfront.
Petitioning for City Council elections begins June 9th, and Berardelli will not be a formal candidate until he collects the required number of signatures.