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Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich said his experience as a civic leader will translate well to the City Council, which he says needs to be infused with civic-minded people like himself instead of career politicians.
In his 14 years as president of the co-op, Friedrich, who is running for the Council seat being vacated by Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), said he successfully fought battles that others contended could not be accomplished, including the recent renaming of Tenney Park to the Glen Oaks Oval and getting permission to let co-op tenants expand their apartments by raising their roofs.
“I’m running because I’m passionate about the community in which I live and I firmly believe that if we elect civic leaders to the City Council, we can make real change that improves the lives of thousands of people.”
Friedrich said what distinguishes him from the man he perceives as his main rival for the seat, state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck), is his willingness to call out elected officials who stay silent when their colleagues are in ethical hot water.
“This is a fundamental difference between Mark Weprin and myself,” Friedrich said, claiming the assemblyman did not speak out when former Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin was indicted on corruption charges. “To remain silent when elected officials are wrong is unacceptable.”
At a candidates forum last month, Weprin criticized Friedrich for his columns in TimesLedger newspapers that attacked Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), among others, saying Friedrich would not be able to build relationships in the Council.Friedrich stopped writing for the paper when he declared his candidacy for the Council, which posed a conflict of interest.
“The ability to critique I wear as a badge of honor,” Friedrich said during an interview last week at the Glen Oaks Shopping Center. “I think leadership requires the ability to speak up.”
Beyond that criticism, Friedrich called Weprin “a very effective assemblyman who I have voted for” and maintained his opponent could serve the community better in the Assembly, where he has accrued 15 years of seniority.
“I think he’s effective because, as we all know, it’s seniority in the political system that allows you to bring money to the district to deal with issues that are important,” he said. “If I’m elected, you have the best of both. To me, that’s an effective team that truly works best in the community’s interest.”
Friedrich, who frequently campaigns while riding a Segway, has come out with some outside-the-box ideas on city issues, including letting residents use electricity poles to power hybrid cars. He has also proposed not using a campaign office if elected but a motorhome so he could visit constituents instead of them coming to him.
While Weprin earlier told TimesLedger he was running for the Council because he could be more effective at the local level, conspiracy theorists claim the run was orchestrated so his brother could run for the Assembly in case he loses the city comptroller’s race.
Weprin shot down that idea, saying he did not discuss such a scenario with his brother and was not even sure if he was interested in being in Albany. He also denied the claim he wanted to change offices to be close to his young family, saying while it would be a benefit, it was not a factor in his decision.
When asked if he believed Weprin, Friedrich took a long pause to think.
“I think that may have been part of the political equation,” he said, referring to Weprin’s running so his brother may win his Assembly seat. “If that flip-flop is part of the political equation, that epitomizes what is wrong with dynasty politics, but I don’t expect that to happen because I will win the election.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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