City Councilman Lew Fidler has made what appears to be his first public pitch for why he should take the seat of disgraced State Senator Carl Kruger, though he noted that he has yet to make a formal announcement.
The stump speech was delivered to the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association on Monday night, just hours after Governor Cuomo announced a March 20 special election to fill Kruger’s seat. The Brooklyn Democratic Party leadership has not yet officially selected Fidler as their candidate (parties choose candidates for special elections), barring the pol from saying he’s taking the spot. And, besides, Fidler said he would “never come to a civic meeting to announce that I was running for political office.”
Still, the Monday night appearance had all the makings of a campaign speech.
For starters, Fidler does not currently represent Manhattan Beach in the City Council (Michael Nelson does). But the affluent, politically active neighborhood does fall into Kruger’s former district – and would be a likely target for fundraising efforts. Fidler also appeared in the community last month when he spoke before the Manhattan Beach Community Group – but his remarks were congratulatory on the group’s 70th anniversary, and spoke little of the upcoming campaign.
Though he stopped short of making an announcement on Monday, Fidler did say, “The governor did declare a Special election today, to replace Senator Kruger. The election will be held on March 20; I will have a formal announcement on that subject in the very near future. But I will just segue by saying I hope to be coming to these meetings for a long time to come.”
Fidler then spoke for about 15 minutes before taking questions for nearly half an hour, spending the majority of his time discussing his experience in government, state issues and his political philosophy – the kind of message a campaigning pol might want to get across.
In terms of his philosophy, Fidler said he follows the three C’s – common sense, communication and chutzpah.
“You’ve got to have the chutzpah. Once you’ve figured out what makes common sense and what’s right and what’s wrong, [you need chutzpah] to stand up and to say so,” Fidler told the crowd. “Just because we’ve done something for 20 years doesnt mean it makes sense anymore, it doesnt mean it’s right and it doesnt mean its the way government ought to work.”
While taking questions from the audience, a number of people took issue with the MTA – both the payroll tax and the perception of waste at the authority.
“I rarely if ever have seen the state legislature drill down on the MTA, find its waste, find its management, find the property it’s sitting on and doing nothing with … all before they raise your fares. None of that has happened, and it has got to change,” Fidler said.
When asked if he would do that as state senator, Fidler didn’t skip a beat: “Yes, sir.”
Here’s the question-and-answer portion of Fidler’s appearance:
Video shot by Steven Volynets.