City Council District 6 - Democratic Primary

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Preferred Candidate - Mel Wymore - Dem
Age: 51 Occupation: Full-time volunteer
Education: University of Arizona (BS), University of Arizona (MS)

Mel Wymore has been active in community issues on the Upper West Side for over a decade. He is a two-time chair of Manhattan Community Board 7, where he has served for 17 years. According to Wymore, his background in systems engineering has helped him develop the analytical and practical tools to find long-term solutions for the community. Some of Wymore’s most successful projects include negotiating a new 800-student school at Riverside Center and raising $15 million to restore the 59th Street Recreation Center. Within District 6, Wymore prioritizes providing more affordable housing to bridge inequality, pushing for greener living, and enriching community gains from limited development. The candidate exhibits a thorough understanding of the City Council, the land use process, and Citizens Union’s reform agenda. If elected, he will advocate for more needs-based allocation of member items and seek to empower rank-and-file members in the City Council, while ensuring the integrity of the institution as an appropriate counterbalance to the mayor. Wymore demonstrated a sophisticated knowledge of committee processes from his work on Community Board 7, which would inform his ability to seek reforms at the City Council. Citizens Union finds that Wymore is a reform-minded consensus builder with an independent voice. For these reasons, Mel Wymore is our preferred candidate for the District 6 Democratic primary.


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Ken Biberaj - Dem
Age: 33 Occupation: Vice President, The Russian Tea Room
Education: American University (BA), Harvard Kennedy School (MA), New York Law School (JD)

Ken Biberaj believes that his mix of business and civic experience make him an ideal candidate for the City Council. Prior to joining the family business at the Russian Tea Room, Biberaj worked as the Florida State Research Director for John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Biberaj also works with the Culinary Council of the Food Bank of New York. He advocates for greater efficiency and responsibility in government through partnerships with business groups. Biberaj wants to see burdensome regulations reduced on small businesses to spur economic and job growth in the city. On reform issues, Biberaj demonstrated support for the majority of Citizens Union’s issues through his questionnaire. However, Biberaj did not show in-depth knowledge of our issues or of the operations of the City Council. While Citizens Union believes that Ken Biberaj is committed to raising the quality of life for citizens of his district, he lacked the political expertise of other candidates in the district.

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Debra Cooper - Dem
Age: N/A
Occupation: Democratic State Committeewoman, Assembly District 67, Corcoran Salesperson
Education: Brandeis University (BA), Boston College (MA), CUNY Graduate Center (Ph.D Matriculate)

Debra Cooper is an experienced democratic advocate. For the past seven years, she has served as the Democratic State Committeewoman for Assembly District 67. Previously, Cooper has served on a number of boards, including NARAL Pro-Choice NY, the Progressive Congress Foundation and Action Fund, and the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. Cooper is extremely knowledgeable regarding legislative advocacy in New York, at both the city and state levels. Her primary policy focus has been on women’s issues, namely choice and equality. However, Cooper did not appear fully informed regarding Citizens Union’s reform issues. While supportive of many of Citizen’s Union policy positions, Cooper differs on a few key issues, namely opposition to nonpartisan top-two elections and requiring that laws enacted by referendum only be changed through approval by the voters. Citizens Union believes that Debra Cooper would be a dedicated and effective member of the Council, but lacks familiarity and interest for Citizens Union’s issues.

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  Noah Gotbaum - Dem
Age: 53 Occupation: Managing Member, New Spirit Capital, LLC
Education: Amherst College (BA), Yale University (MBA)

Noah Gotbaum is a long-time activist in District 6. He is a founder of New York Cares, one of the country’s largest volunteer organizations. According to Gotbaum, he is running to give those people who are traditionally under-represented a voice in policy-making. His children attend public school in the district and Gotbaum is the president of District 3 Community Education Council. Regarding education, he advocates for better budgeting and more transparency, so that parents and teachers can regain control of their schools. On Citizens Union’s reforms, Gotbaum favors changing the City Council Rules to limit the power of the speaker and reforming discretionary funding distribution. He has also pledged to institute participatory budgeting in his district. However, Gotbaum lacked the clear vision for achieving his goals that other candidates in the race presented.

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 Marc Landis - Dem, WFP
Age: 50 Occupation: Attorney, Phillips Nizer LLP
Education: Princeton University (AB), University of Pennsylvania (JD), New York University (LL.M.)

Marc Landis has a commendable track record of legal advocacy and civic engagement. He formerly served as vice-chair of Manhattan Community Board 7, chaired the NYC chapter of Citizen Action of New York, and was honored by both Manhattan Legal Services and Legal Services of New York for his pro bono work on behalf of low income tenants. Landis presents himself as a reform candidate, and is planning to join the Progressive Caucus if elected. The candidate has an impressive grasp of Citizens Union’s reform goals, in particular City Council rules reforms. Landis supports the overwhelming majority of our issues, including advocating for the end of the speaker’s arbitrary control over discretionary funding. While Citizens Union believes that Landis would be an effective representative for his community, we believe that other candidates in the race had the potential for more long-term thinking and independence.

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  Helen Rosenthal - Dem
Age: 52 Occupation: Chair of the Board, ParentJobNet

Education: Michigan State University (BA), Public Health at Yale School of Medicine (MA)

Helen Rosenthal has a robust background in civic engagement. Rosenthal oversaw New York City’s healthcare budget for nine years as Assistant Director at the New York City Office of Management and Budget. Additionally, she has been a member of Manhattan Community Board 7 since 2001, twice serving as its chair. Rosenthal believes that her first-hand understanding of the city budget sets her apart from her competitors and will enable her to adeptly advocate from greater fiscal transparency. Given her passion on the issue and her professional experience, Rosenthal is perhaps the candidate best equipped to reform the city budget. She expressed support for the entirety for Citizens Union’s reform agenda. Citizens Union believes that because Helen Rosenthal is a smart advocate of fiscal reform in the city, she would make an effective public servant if elected. 

Aaron Braunstein - Dem
Has not returned candidate questionnaire
Candidate could not be scheduled for an interview