Friday, March 21, 2008

My New York: Charles Ober for City Council

On March 2nd, I mentioned that a few friends - all openly gay - were considering running for the City Council in Queens making some of the local match-ups some of the most interesting in the upcoming city-wide elections.

On Tuesday, one of them made it official: Charles Ober, who I have known for more than a decade, threw his hat into the ring.

Although certain areas of Queens remain conservative (and in this case Charlie would, if elected, take an open seat vacated by a Republican councilmember who resigned in a sexual scandal), Queens is certainly not the land of Archie Bunker anymore.

That's a picture of Charlie I took in 2004. I am biased but I think he'd make a great city councilmember. Here is the press release announcing his candidacy:

For Immediate release

March 18, 2008

Contact: Saverio Esposito
Email: rgse90


Charles Ober today announces his candidacy for city council in the 30th city council district covering the Queens communities of Glendale, Liberty Park, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven. Mr. Ober will run in the election to fill the unexpired term of councilman Dennis Gallagher who announced his resignation yesterday. Charles Ober, a resident of Ridgewood for over 27 years, is a civic leader who is an officer and board member of a number of local community organizations.

He is currently 1st Vice President of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, Treasurer of the Asian-American Consulting/New Land Community Center, President of the Ridgewood Democratic Club, board member of the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corp., legislation committee member of the Queens Civic Congress, and a member of the President’s Roundtable Advisory Board at La Guardia Community College, the Richmond Hill Kiwanis, and the Steuben Society.

The civic work of Mr. Ober in all these community-based organizations in recent years has included advocacy for quality of life issues including sanitation, graffiti, policing, housing, preservation, and various community projects including after-school programming, educational forums, membership services, legislative advocacy, non-partisan voter registration, advocacy for city capital projects and fundraising.

Charles Ober stated today, “My extensive civic work provides a clear choice for the voter in the 30th Council District. My experience and civic work provide a firm foundation upon which I can base my service to the community in the City Council. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and tackle the problems our communities face, including flooding and sewer under-capacity, safety of railroad crossings, overdevelopment, historical preservation and policing. I intend to run a positive campaign about my ideas for preserving our communities and our quality of life. I am particularly proud that

I most recently led the civic effort for the Queens Civic Congress that led to the passage of a graffiti nuisance abatement law in the City Council.”

Charles Ober worked with City Council members in the graffiti nuisance abatement bill drafting and organizing civic groups in support of the bill. Previous attempts to pass a similar bill over many years had failed. The graffiti nuisance abatement law, enforcement of which began in 2007, gives the city the authority to enforce cleaning of buildings of graffiti that mars our neighborhoods where absentee owners refused to sign waivers.

In 2003 Charles Ober co-founded the Coalition for a United Ridgewood, a coalition of churches and civic groups to bring the community together after the redistricting of Ridgewood. That effort led to an award from the Citizens Committee for New York City. He is past president of Queens Pride House, a community health advocacy center founded in Queens Borough Hall and now located in Jackson Heights. The past two years Mr. Ober has led the efforts to restore the historic Ridgewood Democratic Club building.

Charles Ober graduated from Marist College and has an M.B.A. in quantitative analysis from St. John’s University. He is currently a financial executive with a local building supply company. He was in the teamsters union and department stores union before that.

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