City Council District 11
Anthony (Tony) Cassino
Anthony Cassino’s questionnaire
Occupation: Attorney, Director of Pro Bono Affairs, Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy
Education: Fordham University, NYU Law School
Anthony (Tony) Perez Cassino, who is on the board of the Bronx Legal Services, chair of his local community board, chair of the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, and director of pro bono services at his law firm, has lived in the Bronx his entire life and would like to represent this incredibly diverse district which he believes has been underserved. Through all of his community work, he has tried to mobilize constituents and make them more vested in their neighborhood. His philosophy for governing is that if you consult the community and get them on board to advocate for the issues that affect their daily lives, like changes to laws regarding cars idling outside of schools, it will be easier to gain and retain residents’ support.
Mr. Cassino’s top five priorities are education, land use, transportation, and empty storefronts in the district. He said he would focus on finding tenants for the empty storefronts and for residents to support those local businesses. With respect to education, Mr. Cassino has been working to eliminate school overcrowding that has plagued the district for the last five years and also has worked to improve the community education councils which if properly staffed will encourage greater parental participation. Mr. Cassino said that the district needs more bus rapid transportation and ferries, both of which require greater funding and subsidies.
With respect to reform issues, Mr. Cassino is supportive of Citizens Union’s position to empower the Civilian Complaint Review Board to prosecute the cases it substantiates. He said he believes in term limits because it protects the electorate if they do not vote and also minimizes the power of the incumbency. Mr. Cassino believes that the council should divide the allocation of discretionary funding fifty-one equal ways and conduct greater auditing to ensure that groups that receive funding comply with necessary law. Moreover, if elected, he said that he would appoint a panel in the district to assist him with deciding how to appropriate funds because it would eliminate potential for conflicts. Citizens Union prefers Mr. Cassino in this race because he would be a stronger voice for reform and to unite the diverse district.
Oliver Koppell’s questionnaire
Occupation: Member, New York City Council; Attorney
Education: Harvard College (Cum Laude); Harvard Law School (Cum Laude)
Oliver Koppell, councilmember for the district since 2001, former state attorney general and state assemblymember, is seeking reelection because he has always been an independent democrat and been dedicated to government service who finds it enormously rewarding to be a part of the public debate. He has had a major role in building new schools and improving the district’s environment and infrastructure that he would like to continue working on in a third term. He cited is unparalleled experience at all levels of government and his balanced perspective as rationales for why he is the stronger candidate in the race. Mr. Koppell said that he would like to see the community more involved in land use planning issues, but needs to balance that against the voice of some community members overriding the needs of the entire district.
Mr. Koppell, an opponent of much of Citizens Union’s reform agenda, specifically expressed his opposition to term limits because he believes it discriminates against public officials, first proposed and then voted in favor of the council legislation to extend term limits and said that he would testify in front the next charter revision commission to urge them to place a referendum eliminating term limits on the ballot. He also opposed the reform and strengthening of the campaign finance program. On the issue of council discretionary funding, he said that the recent reforms improved the process and removed much of the speaker’s discretion which has made the process more transparent. Despite Mr. Koppell’s long tenure as a public servant and the organization’s high hopes for him when he was elected to the council in 2001, too many of his current positions and actions are at odds with the organization’s reform-oriented agenda.