New York Times (December 20, 2000)
Potential Council Candidate Tells of Pressure Not to
By JONATHAN P. HICKS
A college administrator who is planning to run for a
City Council seat has accused Democratic Party leaders in Staten Island of
pressuring her to back out of the race.
The administrator, Deborah Rose, director of a
program operated by the College of Staten Island that seeks to lower high
school dropout rates, said party officials hinted that if she declined to run,
she could have a position as commissioner on the city's Board of
Dith Pran/The New York
Deborah Rose, an administrator
College of Staten Island,
says she plans to run for the City Council
seat held by Jerome X. O'Donovan.
Ms. Rose wants to run for the 49th Council District seat on
the island's north shore, and has been raising money and organizing a
Recently, Ms. Rose said, Marlene Markoe-Boyd, a vice
chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Staten Island, and Allen P. Cappelli, an
adviser to Assemblyman-elect John W. Lavelle, the borough's Democratic Party
chairman, asked to have breakfast with Ms. Rose to discuss her candidacy.
"They were trying to discourage me from running," Ms. Rose
said. "They wanted to feel me out, to see how serious I was about my candidacy.
When they realized that I was serious, they wanted to dissuade me from
Ms. Rose said Mr. Cappelli "asked me how I might like to
have my name thrown into the mix to be considered for the job of commissioner
at the Board of Elections. They wanted to scare me off and to make me feel that
I couldn't win and that I should take the job. They told me that I would be the
Ralph Nader of the election."
Ms. Markoe-Boyd and Mr. Cappelli gave a sharply different
account of the meeting and denied that any deal was suggested. Nonetheless, Ms.
Rose's contention has been a dominant topic of conversation in Staten Island
It is also a harbinger of the kind of political storms
expected next year as the city prepares for widespread turnover in elected
officials because of term-limit laws that are about to go into effect. Besides
open seats for mayor, public advocate and comptroller, and the borough
presidencies of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, 36 of the
Council's 51 seats will be open.
Staten Island Democratic leaders are generally split into
two camps over who should take over the 49th District seat, now held by Jerome
X. O'Donovan. Some party leaders, like Mr. Lavelle, have endorsed Jon R. Del
Giorno, a member of the party's executive committee and administrative manager
for the Board of Elections. Others, like Mr. O'Donovan and Assemblywoman
Elizabeth A. Connelly, support Michael E. McMahon, a lawyer who is vice
president of the North Shore Democratic Club. Republicans have generally fared
poorly in the district.
Ms. Rose, 49, who has been a member of Community Board 1
for 17 years and was elected to Community School Board 31 three years ago, said
she came away from the meeting more determined to run. She speculated that the
Democratic Party officials saw her candidacy as a threat because she expected
to do well among black voters, who make up more than 20 percent of the
district. Ms. Rose is black and the other candidates are white.
Mr. Cappelli, who is an aide to Borough President Fernando
Ferrer of the Bronx, said he did not offer Ms. Rose a position as commissioner
"because I don't have anything to offer."
"We had a discussion about politics," Mr. Cappelli said.
"And I told her that I would love to have her on the side of the candidate I am
supporting, Jon Del Giorno. But I didn't mean to offend her."
Ms. Markoe-Boyd said, "We had a discussion about a lot of
things and it was a friendly, upbeat conversation."
Some Staten Island Democrats say they are outraged by the
idea that someone would try to discourage Ms. Rose from running.
"I think it speaks to the lack of sensitivity on the part
of the party leadership," Mr. McMahon said. "Debbie Rose is someone who has
worked in the community. She has as much right as anyone else to run."