Austin Shafran, who’s leaving his Cuomo Administration post today to run for the City Council, ripped into his potential opponent, GOP Councilman Dan Halloran, a self-described libertarian, for his positions on a whole host of topics ranging from gun control to federal aid in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“Dan Halloran’s support for the radical NRA proposals clearly shows he is out of step with a community that cares about the safety of its children,” Mr. Shafran told Politicker this morning, alluding to what could become a dominant theme in one of the rare toss-up general election City Council races in New York City. “It was a watershed moment—you choose the political interests of the NRA over the public safety of our schools and children.”
Furthermore, unlike most elected officials in the New York area, Mr. Halloran did not excoriate Republican Speaker John Boehner for failing to bring a massive Hurricane Sandy aid package to a vote at the end of last year. Needless to say, Mr. Shafran did not accept Mr. Halloran’s pork-based opposition to the measure, and sharply criticized him for supporting the delay of the aid package. After public backlash, a similar version of a Sandy aid package passed the House of Representatives this week.
“Anyone who supports the Republican Congress’s attempts to turn their backs on New York is not being fiscally responsible, they are being morally reprehensible,” Mr. Shafran said. “I want to make that clear.”
Additionally, Mr. Shafran slammed the councilman for his comments at a contentious redistricting hearing on Monday, where Mr. Halloran quoted Teddy Roosevelt and told the Districting Commission that “there is no room in this country for hyphenated Americans.”
“As an Italian Jew born and raised in Bayside, I am one of those hyphenated Americans who is the proud product of the American dream of coming to Bayside,” Mr. Shafran said. “I take personal offense to anyone that wants to jeopardize the American dream for any American, hyphenated or not.”
Mr. Shafran officially filed to run in the race yesterday, setting up what is likely to be a four-way Democratic primary between Paul Vallone, the brother of Councilman Peter Vallone; John Duane, a former one-term assemblyman; and Matthew Silverstein, a Democratic district leader.
A former political operative with connections to the Democratic establishment and organized labor, Mr. Shafran promises, like Mr. Vallone, to be a formidable fundraiser. Mr. Shafran, is a favorite, along with Mr. Duane, to get the backing of the county’s Democratic organization.
Update (1:23 p.m.): Mr. Halloran’s spokesman Kevin Ryan issued a lengthy response to Mr. Shafran’s attack:
Council Member Halloran is so focused on the safety of the entire public that he wants to do something to actually make them safer, not make them feel better with a sound bite.
Taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, like the voters in our district who may want to exercise their right to defend their homes, isn’t Constitutional and isn’t the answer.
Halloran has focused on solutions that address the real problems that cause gun violence: tackling education inequality and the lack of economic opportunity in these hard times and speaking out against the shoot’em-up playstation movie and video-game mentality.
The Council Member has offered real ideas on improving existing laws to fill in the gaps and close loopholes: all 50 states reporting crime uniformly to the Federal government, a real-time federal permit and background check, and finally addressing the issues of mental health and treatment as well working together with law enforcement on fighting crime and reporting statistics. As long as these problems are swept under the carpet our children are no safer.
Council Member Halloran has voted his conscience and spoken his mind since he took office and has worked with both democrats and republicans for the benefit of our Communities. By doing so he has delivered results for Northeast Queens. The Council Member has criticized both the Senate and the House, both sides of the aisle because there is plenty of blame to go around. Both sides failed to act swiftly, productively, and meaningfully to aid the people of the New York. Disaster relief funds diverted for political purposes in Alaska for fisheries won’t help the struggling folks in Queens or Staten Island. Neither will the same old tired political rhetoric.