This was supposed to be easy for Eva Moskowitz. The East Side Democrat ran for City Council against Andrew Eristoff, a wealthy GOP incumbent, in 1997 and came within a few points of winning. When Eristoff left the council earlier this year to join the Giuliani administration, Moskowitz should have sailed in on November 2.
Then came Reba White Williams. The former head of the city’s Art Commission, Williams announced her candidacy – with an assist from her husband, Dave, who is the chairman of Alliance Capital and who has loaned her campaign at least $250,000 – in July. And suddenly, this race became a down-and-dirty fight.
Williams has come out swinging. She flailed wildly in the Post two weeks ago, making sport of her opponent’s more humble financial circumstances and accusing Moskowitz of padding her résumé. She did land one punch, though: She says Moskowitz, as a member of Community Board 8, has missed 49 out of 59 recorded votes since April.
Moskowitz’s camp says she has actually attended a higher percentage of her assigned meetings than Williams; the Williams camp answers that Moskowitz is including a subcommittee that Williams was never told she was on. One CB8 member, Christina R. Davis, says, “There’s no question” that Williams’s attendance record is better.
One set of meetings Williams didn’t attend was that of the board of the conservative Manhattan Institute, of which she was a member. She resigned that post in September – right around the time she snagged the endorsement of the teachers’ union. “I didn’t know that,” says the Manhattan Institute’s Myron Magnet when asked what he thought of someone with a Manhattan Institute affiliation linking arms with the UFT. “I’m kind of flabbergasted.” He still spoke highly of Williams, a favor she didn’t return. “I found they were so ideological you couldn’t carry on a conversation with them,” Williams says. “And I don’t agree with Myron on anything.” It’s unusual for the UFT to choose a Republican over a Democrat, but Moskowitz supports charter schools and opposes principal tenure. Williams supports charter schools, but with reservations, and says she doesn’t “really know anything about” the tenure issue.
The race may come down to money. Williams says she’s ready to spend $800,000 – this for a turnout that may number less than 15,000 – and she isn’t participating in the city’s voluntary campaign-finance program. Moskowitz, who says she’s “killing” herself to raise $250,000, is going to make an issue of it, charging that Williams is “probably going to spend more per vote than Chuck Schumer and Al D’Amato did.”