With the primary elections just days away, it's a good time to reflect on the difference between politicians and public servants. Politicians we know all too much about. They are the candidates who run for public office professing altruistic motives when, in fact, their motives are entirely ulterior and self-centered. Serving themselves is their primary objective, whether it is their egos or their pathologies. The moment they are elected they are already onto the next campaign.
The public servant, however, has only one true purpose -- to serve the public. It's so rare to see such leaders in public life nowadays that it's possible not to notice when one just happens to emerge.
Gale Brewer, who is running for Manhattan Borough President, is the one candidate in the race with 40 years of experience serving the public and not a day of self-promotion.
As a New York City Councilwoman since 2002, she successfully passed the nation's first domestic workers law, along with legislation that granted paid sick leave to employees formerly deprived of such benefits. She introduced a landmark Open Data law, which required all city data to be published online. She has consistently addressed the city's affordable housing crisis, along with sponsoring legal clinics that provide assistance to low and moderate-income tenants. She has fought to protect the character and diversity of neighborhoods. She has advocated on behalf of the elderly and disabled, and sponsored legislation to give New Yorkers, especially the elderly, access to healthy, locally grown food. And she has taken on unpleasant though vital constituent concerns such as bed bugs, rats, hazardous mold and water leaks.
Yes, that's a lot of public service and a great deal of civic experience. Gale Brewer has her boots on the ground in the trenches of this city, which is very different from the garden-variety politician who only has his or her eyes on yet another electoral prize.
With that commendable and extensive track record of legislation and advocacy behind her, Brewer got into the race for Manhattan Borough President late. That's what happens when you're busy serving the public. She has trailed the other candidates in fundraising, but not in the polls, where she is in the lead. New Yorkers are street savvy enough to recognize a political leader who they've actually seen on the streets fighting for them rather than on TV and print ads trying to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.
Gale Brewer received the endorsement from the New York Times' Editorial Board, stating that, "Ms. Brewer is too rare a public official to retire."
There is no truer statement that should guide the outcome of this race.