It's hard to believe that just eleven months after Hurricane Sandy barreled through the city, it's not been a major topic on the campaign trail. Talk of taxes, education, and crime are dominating the conversation – when we're not debating the relevance of the Sandinistas and the Contras in the fight for City Hall.
That changed a little yesterday when both Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota campaigned in areas of Queens that were badly damaged by the storm. Not surprisingly that when it comes to Sandy recovery, the candidates have been focusing on their political bases. De Blasio has not been to Rockaway's predominantly white and more conservative "West End" since the storm while Lhota hasn't been to Far Rockaway and instead focused on areas like Breezy Point, Broad Channel, and Howard Beach.
Interestingly, it was the first time in a while that de Blasio had some good words for Mayor Bloomberg, promising to continuing his work to rebuild the Rockaways. But in a clear signal that he probably needs to bone up on storm recovery efforts, de Blasio was vague about translating federal relief money into jobs for the area, calling such a goal "aspirational."
Lhota has been pointing to his work as the head of the MTA during the storm as proof that he'd be good at getting storm-ravaged neighborhoods back on track. But recovery isn't just about having the trains run on time – swaths of parts of the city are still limping along in the wake of Sandy.
The lack of discussion of the hurricane on the campaign trail should actually be seen as a testament to the city's resiliency – not as heartlessness by the candidates. But I'd suggest that they all read the Bloomberg administration's 400-page plus blueprint for recovery. It provides a good starting point for whoever takes the helm of City Hall next January. And here's hoping that they come to all of the Rockaways after Election Day.
Correction: In my morning conversation with Pat Kiernan today, I said our mayoral debate is on Oct. 8th. The debate will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 9th. Our debate for City Comptroller is Oct. 8th.