Gerson Accused of Going Through the Motions

Observer intern Kate McGee dropped in to see incumbent Alan Gerson defend himself during a debate in Lower Manhattan last night, where talk focused on term limits and an alleged “spoiler candidate.”

Here’s McGee:

Last night, Alan Gerson came under attack for…being cynical.

Challenger Pete Gleason challenged incumbent Alan Gerson on his vote to extend term limits legislatively after a compromise amendment failed. Gleason said the incumbent never really opposed term limits and that Gerson was on a conference call with District Leader Jean Grillo saying he knew the voter-referendum bill wouldn’t pass. According to Gleason’s account, Gerson told the district leader that once the Gleason amendment – which would have required a public referendum – failed, the councilman would then vote to extend term limits.

Jean Grillo confirmed this call, saying Gerson made it plain that he didn’t really believe in his own referendum. While Gleason spoke, Gerson was visibly upset, throwing his hands up in anger, but never responding to the accusation.

One man asked another candidate, P.J. Kim, if he was the spoiler candidate, dividing the Asian community between himself and fellow candidate Margaret Chin.

“I’d be a very interesting spoiler if I got endorsements from the New York Times and New York Press, and have collected the most signatures besides the incumbent,” Kim said.

Chin and the rest of the other candidates didn’t seem worried either. Candidate Arthur Gregory said, “I’m not worried about a division. She’s Chinese, he’s Korean. There are very few Koreans in this area.”

In an interview with City Hall News, Gerson said he was approached by someone who suggested he recruit an Asian candidate to be a spoiler, but that he “totally unequivocally rejected that.”