Former city and state lawmaker Hiram Monserrate left politics in disgrace. Now, seven years after he was expelled from the state Senate, he's decided the time is right for another run for public office. NY1 Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
In the public mind, the enduring image of Hiram Monserrate was him dragging his girlfriend through a vestibule in an episode that led to Monserrate taken away in handcuffs, charged with slashing his girlfriend with a broken glass.
"I have made my mistakes," Monserrate said in 2008.
That could be regarded as an understatement. Though ultimately convicted of a lesser misdemeanor charge, Monserrate later spent almost two years in federal prison after misusing public funds in his City Council days.
But Monserrate has never strayed far from politics.
"My mistakes are now in my past, several years ago. I have moved on," he said.
Indeed, on NY1's Road to City Hall Tuesday, he announced a run for City Council. He's staking his candidacy almost entirely on a single issue: the planned development of Willets Point, which he views as a giveaway.
"It's an atrocity for anyone to think that they can take 40 acres of parkland and hand it over for free to a developer to build and make more profits," Monserrate said.
It's hard to imagine the campaign will go smoothly. Tuesday, a small group protested Monserrate outside NY1 studios. And he faces a well-funded incumbent, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who once served as Monserrate's chief of staff and is now considered a leading candidate for Council speaker. She's raised $357,000 and is bypassing the city's public campaign finance system. Monserrate, her only declared opponent, has so far raised about $9,000.
"There are some candidates who are not in the system, which means that they're raising their money mostly from real estate developers and rich landlords and billionaires," Monserrate said.
Ferreras declined comment.
This won't be Monserrate's first attempted comeback. Last fall, he ran unsuccessfully for Democratic district leader.
"They are mistakes that I committed. I have paid the price for those. I have learned, I have grown. I'm not going to live in the past," he said.
Whether voters will forgive and forget, we'll find out on primary day, September 12.