3/14/13

Albanese Tells His Story

In a revealing Epoch Times interview, Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese gave glimpses of his immigrant past and talked about what's driving his return to politics.

Albanese first saw Brooklyn from the deck of a ship in 1957, when he, his mother and sister disembarked after a seven-day crossing from Italy.

They were reunited here, after years of separation, with Albanese's father, a former Italian prisoner of war who became an NYPD officer.

The family settled in Park Slope, then a tough, working class neighborhood. Albanese's mother, a garment worker, supported the family as it battled the language barrier in search of treatment for Albanese's father, a schizophrenic.

Albanese and his sister were grown by the time they found their way to Kings County Appellate Judge Michael Pesce, then the city's only Italian-speaking Assembly Member.

He found their father a psychiatrist who spoke Italian, something Albanese said he never forgot as a politician.

Growing up in Park Slope in the 1960s, he said, you had to be an athlete or a gang member to get any respect.  He chose athlete, becoming a baseball player good enough to get a Yankees tryout.

During his 11 years as a New York City public school teacher, Albanese logged some tough assignments.  After seeing too many kids' lives destroyed by gang violence in 1980s' Sunset Park, he said, he joined Community School Board 20.

He ran for City Council as an independent Democrat, defeating 20-year Republican incumbent Angelo Arculeo in a largely Republican district, thinking he could do a better job than many of the elected officials he had met as a school board member.

He served on the City Council from 1982 to 1998, where he is remembered for the New York City Living Wage Bill, passed over Mayor Rudy Guiliani's opposition in 1996, and the Campaign Finance Reform Bill, of which he was the original sponsor.

During his City Council tenure, he declined the speaker's stipend, calling the additional $7,000 to $10,000 an invitation to sell out.

Albanese got a master's degree in health from New York University in 1976 while teaching at John Jay High School, and a law degree from Brooklyn Law in 1990 while serving on the City Council.

This is technically his third mayoral campaign, but because he pulled out of the 2001 race due to a funding shortfall --  his two daughters were in college -- he sees this as his second try.

For 15 years, 9 of them at Mesirow Financial, Albanese worked in the private sector as a lawyer and finance professional.

He left a high-paying job as managing director at Mesirow to run for office again because he's looking to make a difference, he said.

His campaign has turned down lobbyist dollars, looking to good government advocates for support.

Calling polling a "cynical political process" that can ignore the real issues, Albanese said he'll go with his gut, even if that means ignoring the polls.

Early childhood education is one of his gut issues. He wants to see very young children, particularly in high-risk neighborhoods, have access to educational programming.

The article from the Epoch Times.

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