Bastone Kicks Off Council Bid
By JORDAN MOSS
Terry Bastone says she knew she wanted to be a member of the City Council as far back as 1991 when she interned for Councilwoman June Eisland, who will be leaving office in the 11th Council District next year due to term limits. Now, Bastone, a native of Cuba who emigrated to this country when she was 7, is seeking to follow in Eisland's footsteps.
"It was like a fire in the belly that lit up and it hasn't gone out," Bastone said in an interview. "I knew it then that I wanted to be in the Council. I watched June. It's worthwhile work. It's one of the best jobs in the city. But I knew it wasn't something you could do right away."
Bastone, a Kingsbridge resident, has been a Democratic district leader in the 81st Assembly District since 1996. She says she cut her political teeth on the housing issue as tenant leader in Kingsbridge Gardens, where she lives.
"I would like to see Mitchell Lama housing come back," she said of the affordable housing program under which buildings like Scott Tower and Tracey Towers in Bedford Park are operated. "It was the best housing program in the entire nation. It allowed landlords to build decent housing. It built neighborhoods in this city [and] attracted doctors, lawyers and police officers."
Bastone, who worked for Congressman Eliot Engel for six years, said she collected the money from merchants along Broadway in Kingsbridge to start the first holiday lights program. "That's my baby," she said. And a year ago, Bastone said, she and three merchants purchased a power washer and paint sprayer and donated it to the 50th Precinct.
On Sunday, May 6, Bastone stood with her supporters in between Tracey Towers and DeWitt Clinton High School to announce her candidacy for the seat, which covers Bedford Park, Norwood, Kingsbridge, Woodlawn, part of Wakefield, and Riverdale. She said she picked the location because of its proximity to three things she cares about most. "It had a school, affordable housing, and the park around it. Those are the three issues I'm very interested in - the environment, education and housing."
Bastone, 51, is also running against Norwood teacher and Riverdale civic leader Laura Spalter, Riverdale resident Mark Vogel, and former assemblyman and School Board 10 president Oliver Koppell.
Bastone said she would be a full-time Council member. "We don't need someone working part-time for us," Bastone said, in a reference to Koppell, who says he will maintain a law practice if he is elected. "June Eisland is a full-time Council member. That's what I'll be. Our community deserves nothing less."
Of those running, Bastone insists she's the one for the job. "I know I can do it because my background is on these issues," she said. "I know how to solve the problems of the people."
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