Opponents of Atlantic Yards who hoped for a candidate to run against project cheerleader Borough President Markowitz got half their wish this week — a challenger has finally emerged, but he thinks Markowitz hasn’t championed the mega-development enough!
Oh, and there’s one other minor problem — the man seeking the highest office in the most Democratic county in the country is a Republican.
“I don’t think running against Marty is a suicide mission,” said the newly minted challenger, 44-year-old Marc D’Ottavio. “I don’t think he’s as popular as he used to be — people are upset he took advantage of the term-limit extension.”
During an interview with The Brooklyn Paper, D’Ottavio, a sales manager at an auto dealership on Nostrand Avenue, stuck mostly to the Beep’s supposedly lackluster support for Bruce Ratner’s $4-billion basketball, housing and retail development in Prospect Heights — a project that Markowitz has made his signature issue.
“He was very gung-ho about it [at the start], but where is he now?” asked D’Ottavio. “He’s closed his mouth since there have been stories about the economic problems [at Atlantic Yards].”
Closed his mouth? Marty Markowitz? Not likely. In fact, just two weeks ago, the irrepressible Beep stood with Bruce Ratner at a “topping off” party at the developer’s residential building on DeKalb Avenue — and reiterated his staunch belief that Atlantic Yards will be good for Brooklyn.
As such, D’Ottavio’s insurgency didn’t faze the popular two-term borough president.
“I remain confident that Atlantic Yards will be built and the Nets will be playing in Brooklyn,” Markowitz told The Brooklyn Paper. “I can’t think of a more critical moment than now to create the union jobs, affordable housing, operating jobs and ancillary business revenues that Atlantic Yards will bring to Downtown Brooklyn and New York City.”
D’Ottavio said he detected another soft spot in Markowitz’s armor — his controversial $64-million amphitheater for Coney Island, which whipped up a firestorm from nearby residents who complain it will ruin Asser Levy Park and violate noise laws.
“He’s got a lot of money [in his capital budget], but he doesn’t always spend his discretionary funds the best way,” D’Ottavio said.
Markowitz brushed away the opening salvo from D’Ottavio, which makes sense given how he’ll brush him away at the polls. Registered Democrats account for about 70 percent of Brooklyn’s electorate, with Republicans only holding about 10 percent of voters. In fact, Kings County has not had a Republican at the helm since the Lewis Pounds administration ended in 1917 (ah, remember those days?).
Another advantage for Markowitz is his war chest, overflowing with $888,200 on hand. D’Ottavio has not filed fundraising reports with the Campaign Finance Board yet — an indication that he has nothing to report.
The Bensonhurst native says his campaign will focus on business issues like protecting mom and pop shops (who doesn’t support that, really? I mean, Markowitz personally eats at every one of them!) and developing incentives for big and small firms to hire locally.
Even D’Ottavio’s uphill quest to seize control of Borough Hall falls short, he wouldn’t be disappointed if he raised a little hell on the campaign trail and refocused the policy debate.
“If that’s what it takes to get the issues out there,” he said.
That’s what it will take, apparently, considering that Markowitz has scared off all his Democratic challengers. Several pols, including councilmembers Bill DeBlasio and Domenic Recchia, were looking to get the cushy chair on Joralemon Street until Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council cooked up the term-limit extension.