“Call Carolyn Maloney,” my editor said. I’d just walked the West Promenade, witnessing dozens of cracks in the seawall. It’s a common call, and in the heat of an intense, nationally significant race, Carolyn Maloney says she’s answered so many times that she’s earned your vote. She made her case on Saturday.
by David Stone
Boarding one of those old, rickety Red Buses circling Roosevelt Island in the summer of 1992, I met Carolyn Maloney for the first time. As committed then to retail politics as she is today, she was going around and around the Main Street circuit, asking for votes.
After serving for ten years on the City Council – the first member ever to give birth while in office – Maloney was moving up to Congress. She won, defeating Republican incumbent Bill Green. She’s been winning every year since.
But back to the seawall. The sturdy, railed shorelines you see today were possible because she seeded the upgrade. Made aware of the problems by anxious Roosevelt Islanders, Maloney secured half-a-million bucks, funding a crucial Army Corps of Engineers Study and getting the work started.
“Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s support has been invaluable to Roosevelt Island over the years. From getting cameras installed in our subway station to keeping our post office open, she has always been there looking out for our interests.”– Margie Smith, Island activist and longtime elected RIOC Board Member.
Carolyn Maloney and Roosevelt Island
With a national profile now as head of the House Oversight Committee, succeeding Elijah Cummings after his death in 2019, Carolyn Maloney is surprisingly down-to-earth and accessible. That’s never changed with her, and she rarely misses local events.
The second time I met the congresswoman was in early 2011 when I rushed out midway through lunch after a late call from an editor. A time capsule was being laid in soon to open FDR Four Freedoms Park, and she would be there.
It didn’t take long to understand the reason. Her aide toted a four-foot wide mockup check for $500,000. The money, allocated by Congress, funded the tree-lined pathways for which Four Freedoms’s architecture is admired.
After the time capsule was in place, I walked with Maloney down the muddy meadow. The FDR bust had just been mounted. The graceful Linden Tree rows she helped pay for were just going in. But I had a broader issue in mind.
In the 2010 midterms, Republicans had taken control of the House, leaving her in a weakened minority.
“It must be frustrating in Washington these days,” I offered as a starter.
But Carolyn Maloney was having none of it.
Swinging her arms open wide, her shoes squishing in the mud, she declared, “Not when I can do something like this!”
I recall it every time I’m in the park. It’s the best of politics, something we can use much more of these days.
Bringing Subway Service to Roosevelt Island
Expanding options for Roosevelt Islanders, Maloney helped deliver $300,000 in federal money for the 63rd Street Tunnel Connector. F Trains now meet Qs on the Second Avenue line. That goes along with hundreds of thousands more she won for security surveillance cameras making the deep underground Roosevelt Island station safer.
Enhancing choices, she worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, securing a permit allowing a ferry dock on the East River.
In our conversation over the weekend, Carolyn Maloney’s distaste for RIOC’s current operations was not hidden. She’d gotten an earful from her local supporters.
But what galled her most was a lack of good manners and, in my opinion, a disregard for local politics.
Always in the thick of things, she teamed up with RIOC in getting a $250,00 matching grant for restoring Blackwell House. “And then,” she told me, “they scheduled an opening when I couldn’t be there.”
She wasn’t alone, though. The Shelton J. Haynes administration didn’t bother notifying the public either, turning it into a disrespectful RIOC photo op.
Carolyn Maloney Pitched in for Getting Cornell Technion Here
Roosevelt Island has a world-class technical university because politicians and activists banded together and beat intense competition. Along with Council Member Jessica Lappin, who led the path through City government, Maloney got on board.
She “…recognized that Roosevelt Island offered the perfect location,” and pulled together residents and businesses, tapping into their enthusiasm.
The result, as we now know, is better even than projected. The vibrant campus pulled New York City’s tech sector back into national prominence, but it’s also been a godsend locally. Cornell Tech plays a vital role in the community. They offer free lectures and engage with PS/IS 217 as well as the CBN/RI Senior Center.
Carolyn Maloney is one of the few New York State politicians who actually seems to understand how government works. Too often, we elect amateurs and then watch in dismay as they founder.
She’s not perfect. No politician is. But Carolyn Maloney has a long record of service to her community and country that more than justifies returning her to office.
This is an election where we have a chance to make a statement, one that affirms our commitment to experienced, effective government.