Incumbent Lew Fidler may have successfully dispatched his Democratic rivals for the 46th District Council seat, but he’s still got Republican Gene Berardelli to contend with - and the community activist turned candidate sounds like he’s spoiling for a good, old-fashioned street fight.
“I’m calling you out,” Berardellideclared late last week. “I’m taking this fight to the people and I challenge Lew Fidler to meet me anytime, anyplace to debate me.”
Berardelli, an attorney and vocal member of the Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association, says he wants Fidler to answer for what he calls “acts he’s committed against all of us.”
The last Democratic challenger hoping to go up against Fidler in the upcoming primary was knocked off the ballot on August 5. Two others were bounced the previous week after it was determined that neither had the required number of signatures on their ballot petitions.
“No lawyers can save him [Fidler] from this confrontation like they stopped those who actually had the temerity to challenge Lew within his own party,” Berardelli said.
Fidler and Berardelli have met before -- at a South Canarsie Civic Association candidates’ forum held earlier this summer.
The incumbent said that if another “legitimate organization” sponsors a debate between the two candidates, he will attend.
“I’m no shrinking violet,” Fidler said. “I’m quite proud of my record.”
Berardelli dismisses his earlier encounter with Fidler and says that a new debate is needed because the race is “down to two candidates.”
“I don’t think we need an organization to set it up,” Berardelli said. “We can do it ourselves.”
According to the challenger, Fidler is part of “an obsolete culture of career politicians and machine politics that is strangling our communities in south Brooklyn.”
“I’ve been pretty independent,” Fidler shot back. “Ask the community leader before this one if I was part of the machine.”
If successfully re-elected this fall, Fidler said he will continue to make sure community programs benefiting youths, seniors and education continue to get their fair share of funding.
“I’m proud to be someone who can successfully multi-task,” the incumbent said.
Berardelli loaded up his strongest jab at Fidler with the councilman’s vote that helped overturn term limits.
“Lew Fidler turned his back on all of us when he decided that he was the only one from our community who could help solve a fiscal crisis that happened on his watch,” Berardelli said.
“That’s interesting coming from a guy running with Mike Bloomberg,” Fidler said.
The councilman said that while he thought the manner in which term limits were undone was “repugnant,” he actually has a long and consistent record of opposing term limits.
“I’ve always been clear and I’ve always been open,” Fidler said. “The fact that a billionaire mayor came around to my point of view is not going to stop me.”
“Lew works a broken system,” Berardelli insisted. “I want to fix the system.”