The resignation of Mark Weprin has created an unexpected opportunity for aspiring elected officials in eastern Queens. Weprin, an assemblyman who swapped seats with his brother David in 2009, was entitled to a third term if he wanted it. But having lost his campaign for the Speakership, and given the dim prospects of a white man ever again attaining that post, Weprin has decided to pack it in.
The county organization has unsurprisingly gelled around ex-assemblyman Barry Grodenchik as the anointed successor to Weprin. A longtime party regular and former Parkside executive, Grodenchik is tight with Boss Crowley and the insiders, dating back to the days when he carried around Clare Shulman’s pocketbook. He also knows how to go along and when to take one for the team, as when he backed out of the 2013 race for Queens Borough President, letting Melinda Katz firm up the county’s substantial Jewish vote.
The most amusing news to come out of the current shuffle comes from an odd source not typically associated with Utopia Parkway. Reshma Saujani, 2013 third-place finisher for Public Advocate and longtime resident of Chelsea, has reportedly been making calls to Joe Crowley advancing herself as the person to replace Weprin!
Reshma Saujani (who did not respond to phone messages) is notoriously tone-deaf when it comes to retail politics. Her 2010 vanity run for Congress against Carolyn Maloney was a total disaster. She outspent Tish James by about 30% in 2013 and got 15% of the primary vote. Her “Girls Who Code” organization is a massive marketing campaign that gained media accolades and support from prominent corporations before any girl had so much as turned on a computer. “Girls Who Code” is nakedly a platform for the future political career of its founder, who does not know how to code in the first place, and which tapped into the STEM-gender gap obsession of Times readers and steel-jawed Hillary Clinton supporters everywhere.
There is a class of entitled do-gooder types who are convinced that they should be elected to something, and are driven crazy by the failure of the electorate to recognize what all their venture capital friends and marketing guru dinner-party companions have already agreed upon. Reshma Saujani is apparently so certain that she needs to hold elected office that she is pushing herself ahead of the many qualified candidates in eastern Queens—including, one may add, several South Asians—to attain her goal. Not by moving there—just by making some well-placed phone calls. How presumptuous, and what disrespect she shows to the people of CD 23. As though they could do no better than to usher Reshma Saujani into office, in time for her to prepare to be the first Indian-American woman President by 2028. Come on Douglaston, we are counting on you!
The other interesting question surrounding Mark Weprin’s departure is the matter of his chairmanship of the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. This key Land Use subcommittee is one of a handful of non-frivolous Council committees that require a certain amount of actual knowledge of the rules and the capacity to be judicious. In other words, it can’t go to just anybody.
One could wonder if Rosie Mendez has served out her time in the Speaker’s outer darkness for her crime of supporting Christine Quinn for mayor and Dan Garodnick for speaker. As an attorney and former chair of the Public Housing Committee she could manage Zoning capably. Or perhaps, assuming the Speaker cares to mend fences with her neighbors to the west, she could slot Inez Dickens to the post—though given her apparent reluctance to run for Congress in 2016, there may not be enough reason for her to bother currying favor with Harlem’s fading black political elite.
We are willing to venture a bold guess: Vincent Gentile, having volunteered to subject himself to a pummeling in Staten Island during the special congressional election, will get a consolation prize in being elevated to the chair of Zoning.