Sunday, April 26, 2009

NYU Pavement Pieces, The Road to City Hall

NYC Republican Banks on Bad Economy for Successful Run

Joe Mendola, a Republican with no political experience, hopes his financial experience will make him a shoe-in for New York City comptroller.

By Erik Badia
April 20th, 2009

He’s a long shot and he knows it.

Joe Mendola has no experience serving in public office, but he is making a run for New York City comptroller on the Republican ticket.

If he can pull off a victory, he would be the city’s first Republican since Joseph D. McGoldrick, who served back in 1945.

“In any normal year, I probably wouldn’t have any chance at all,” Mendola, a Greenwich Village resident, said, adding that he sees the current economic crisis as his opportunity.

“What I can offer is professional money management experience,” he said.

Mendola, 47, is the chief compliance officer and legal counsel for Magna Securities Corporation. He holds 10 securities licenses, which allows him to trade securities on the financial markets, and he can practice law in three states.

If he lands a spot on the Republican party ballot, he’ll be running against one of four better-known Democratic hopefuls. All are all looking to fill the seat of current comptroller William C. Thompson, who will be running for mayor.

The Democrats are all City Council members: David Passkey from Brooklyn, as well as John Liu, Melinda Katz, and David Warping — all from Queens.

“I have relevant experience to the comptroller’s position, something the other guys can’t say,” Mendola said.

Two things he doesn’t have are money and name recognition. New York City Campaign Finance Board records show that all four of Democrats have raised over $1.5 million each, totaling $8,979,602 between them. Mendola has raised $2,501.

Jean-Daniel Noland, chair of Manhattan’s Community Board 4, has never heard of Mendola. Noland said that he is planning to support David Yassky, who recently came to speak to Community District 4 residents.

“He was quite forthcoming, seemed quite knowledgeable and quite likeable,” Noland said.

Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University Vivek Chibber said the two biggest things city political hopefuls need are cash and name recognition.

“Together they would account for 75-80% of your chances of success,” he said.

But before Mendola can even think about running against the Democrats, he must first secure himself a line on the Republican ticket. He is likely to have a primary opponent.

Daniel Maio, who has run unsuccessfully for City Council, state senate, public advocate and Manhattan borough president in the past, is also seeking the Republican party line for comptroller.

“If everything works out well, I will be the official Republican candidate sometime before Memorial Day,” said Mendola, who has interviewed with all five counties of the Republican Party, but has not yet been endorsed.

But he remains hopeful.

“I’ve come to believe that politics is 50 percent luck, 40 percent hard work and 10 percent skill,” Mendola said, adding, “I have the skill, I’m willing to do the hard work — now it’s up to lady luck.”