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Mercedes Narcisse wants everyone to know one thing — she’s got no strings on her.
Despite the recent passage of legislation that would give city councilmembers, citywide elected officials and borough presidents the right to run for a third term, the Canarsie activist, who serves as president of the Avenue L Merchants Association, has said more than once recently that she is still a candidate for the seat in the 46th Councilmanic District.
“People ask, ‘Are you still going to run for office?’” Narcisse recounted during the November meeting of the South Canarsie Civic Association (SCCA).
“When I commit to do something, I do it,” Narcisse told the group gathered at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Avenue.
Her interest in running for office, Narcisse added, came about because she is committed to, “The betterment of the community. When issues in the community are not being addressed, that breaks my heart,” she contended.
The district — which includes not only Canarsie but Bergen Beach, Georgetowne, Starrett City, Flatlands, Futurama, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Mill Island, Gerritsen Beach, Madison and parts of Sheepshead Bay -- is currently represented by Lewis Fidler, who also is the district leader of the 41st Assembly District. The Democratic club in that area — Fidler’s club — is headed by Narcisse as president.
If it survives a legal challenge, the City Council’s recent term limit vote would offer Fidler, who was first elected in 2001, another bite at the City Hall apple.
“People say, Lew Fidler is your friend,” Narcisse noted. “I’m not going to deny that Lew is a great person. Yes, he is my friend, but the dynamic of the whole thing changed when the mayor decided to give a third term. The dynamic of my campaign changed. Right now, if any elected official says I’m going to do a better job than I’ve done in the past, I’m all for you. I will step aside. Until then, I’m running for office.”
Narcisse’s fighting words were echoed somewhat during the meeting of Community Board 18, the following week.
During that meeting, held in the Kings Plaza community room, Narcisse lashed out against naysayers whispering that she wouldn’t run because she has too many connections to Fidler.
“I want to make this clear, I am not in [Fidler’s] pocket,” she told the board. “We respectfully disagree on a number of issues and we talk about it like civilized people.
“I want to get things done,” she said, again stating “I’m not in anyone’s pocket.”
Narcisse would not say just who claimed she was in Fidler’s pocket, contending simply that “people have been talking about it.”
Yet her affirmation was somewhat open-ended.
In almost the same breath, Narcisse said that she wanted to meet with Fidler and “talk about how to make the community better.
“We have issues to discuss,” she said.
Given these final statements, one observer said, it appeared she was trying to find a graceful way to back-track.
“My gut feeling is that she is going to drop out,” said one insider who was present at the meeting. “The way she expressed herself at the community board, it seems like she was looking for an exit strategy. I don’t think she will challenge her district leader. It’s hard to imagine she will do that.”
Another source said that Narcisse had actually “promised” Fidler that she wouldn’t challenge him. “She is doing herself no service,” the source went on, “by telling people that she is running against him.”
One political pundit said Narcisse’s actions didn’t make sense to him. “If she thought Fidler wasn’t doing a good job, why serve as president of his club,” asked Bernie Catcher, the Democratic district leader for the 59th Assembly District. “If she wants to service the community, why not support him?”
Indeed, another potential candidate had done precisely that. As soon as the term limit vote was passed, former Assemblymember and Surrogate Court Judge Frank Seddio, who was considering a run for the 46th C.D., backed off and instead offered his support to Fidler’s re-election bid.
As for Fidler, said, “I hope Mercedes would support me if the term limits extension is validated by the courts. She’s been a friend and a community worker. If I am not able to run for re-election, then Mercedes and I will have another conversation.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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