Bill Thompson’s chances in the mayor’s race have always depended on his ability to unite Latino and African-American voters. And, at the northern end of Manhattan this morning, Mr. Thompson rolled out several endorsements that could place him on a path to doing exactly that.
The former city comptroller stood at the steps of the lavish United Palace in Washington Heights, flanked by State Senator Adriano Espaillat, accepting his endorsement with a slew of supporters behind them, raising blue signs emboldened with his name. Mr. Espaillat, notably, is a proven vote-getter in the city’s Dominican community and almost unseated veteran Congressman Charlie Rangel in a high-profile contest of his own last year.
“When I was a kid I used to come here to watch my James Bond movies. Those of you that follow that era remember that James Coburn came out with another film called Our Man Flint, right? So, like the counterpart to James Bond. So, we’re here to support our man Bill today,” Mr. Espaillat said.
The group erupted in raucous applause at this introduction, prompting a brief speech by Mr. Thompson that focused on community involvement in education and drawing major distinctions from the functioning of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s current administration.
“I can’t say thank you enough for the support of this Northern Manhattan team, these fine elected officials,” Mr. Thompson said. “They understand we have to move this city in a different direction. That we have to do things differently. If we continue to do it and go in the same direction, a lot of us won’t be here and this will continue to be a city that isn’t providing opportunity for all.”
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa, who made history as the first woman of Dominican descent elected to the Assembly, were also among the “Northern Manhattan team” supporting Mr. Thompson.
“I dream, as Martin Luther King [did], that there’s a mountain that we should go. And all New York should be there at that mountain. Where every single child receives quality education so that they will become the work force of the future,” Mr. Rodriguez said.
Addressing the media, Mr. Espaillat said that Mr. Thompson’s position on education was what ultimately led to this endorsement, coming on the heels of an important endorsement from the United Federation of Teachers.
“The fact that the UFT is here with Bill Thompson is an important factor,” he said. ” Because the teachers are there with our kids every day. Very often in working communities like this, more often than the parents themselves. They are in essence surrogate parents.”
The trio of primary Latino endorsers focused on Mr. Thompson’s experience with education as their primary incentive to support him. But something else about his tenure in the city comptroller’s office came up: the fact that he declined to audit the payroll system CityTime, a city project that wasted millions of dollars and an issue that landed Mr. Thompson on the front page of the Daily News today.
“It was not something that wasn’t paid attention to. I pushed this administration and in the end, I think that–and continued to be given assurances that work was being done, that oversight was being provided, that they were on top of this project. In the end, I think this is–in retrospect, obviously–it is something that I wish I paid more attention to,” Mr. Thompson explained. “In retrospect, whether it was an audit, or additional attention being paid, I wish I had done more.”
See Mr. Thompson’s remarks here:
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/69479073 w=500&h=281]