Lynne Strong-Shinozaki To Lead the Next Edition

RIRA Common Council Candidates Final, Challenges Clear

David Stone
Lynne Strong-Shinozaki will lead the next Common Council as President.
Lynne Strong-Shinozaki will lead the next Common Council as President.
Photo: Irina Island Images

The Nominations Committee released its final list of candidates for the next edition of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association Common Council. The group, which takes over at the first meeting after the election, will be a surprising mix reflecting a changing community.

Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, who is unopposed, will preside over a Council of representatives with a surprising makeup accompanied by some disappointments.

Let's get the disappointments out of the way first.

Coler Hospital's roughly 800 residents, the majority permanent, are still not recognized as Roosevelt Islanders. It's a shameless omission that denies a voice to 7% of the community without justification, a leftover mistake that needs correction. The single disqualification for Coler's community is disability requiring hospitalization.

RIRA Common Council Candidates Final, Challenges Clear
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We hope the next Common Council has the insight and empathy to change its rules to include all voices in its discussions. Legitimacy depends on it.

Also, residents in The House at Cornell Tech are not recognized. Mostly graduate students, these Roosevelt Islanders are also denied a voice and an opportunity to contribute.

Finally, the candidate list (attached as a downloadable PDF below) lacks reasonable representation from our growing Asian population, recorded as more than 20% in the last census.

If the Common Council hopes to be recognized as a legitimate community voice, it needs to do more outreach under new management.

New Management

Under Strong-Shinozaki's leadership, the Common Council's expected to energize community involvement by shedding the passivity that's allowed the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation free rein to run the community as an outsider with little input from those who live here.

An era of confrontation ended when Jeff Escobar took over as President, earning credit for bringing order to a fractious group but draining its energy at the same time. A go along to get along philosophy left RIOC unchallenged and ultimately damaged the community, running roughshod over longstanding institutions and allowing hard-won democratic gains to whither.

David Lawson, candidate for Vice President, from Westview.
David Lawson, candidate for Vice President, from Westview.

Strong-Shinozaki is a widely respected volunteer and experienced activist who represents Roosevelt Island on Community Board 8 and has served as Vice President in the current administration. She'll have to reinvent the job of President to be effective.

The only Common Council position up for a competitive vote this year is Vice President, vacated by Strong-Shinozaki. David Lawson, from Westview, takes on Island House's Frank Farance, a past Common Council President. Farance is an aggressive activist with a long track record in community service while Lawson is a seasoned operative with United Nations credentials.

Common Council's Odd Composition

A quick scan of the candidates list reveals a clear majority from outside the WIRE buildings where RIRA was born.

Although while only 2-4 River Road sports enough candidates (1) to fill its allotted seats, Southtown is strongly represented with seven. The Octagon with five is also reasonably fortified.

Frank Farance takes on David Lawson in the race for Vice President.
Frank Farance takes on David Lawson in the race for Vice President.

Of the WIRE buildings (Westview, Island House, Rivercross, Eastwood), only the largest, Eastwood, since renamed Roosevelt Landings, matches The Octagon in representation.

Whether this composition means a changing of the guard, lifting the power structure away from the middle, remains to be seen. Post election, members can be added to the Council through a process requiring confirmation by those already seated. 

Trends in the past, however, have changed the composition more by subtraction as volunteers drop out than from addition. Strong-Shinozaki may change that.

Voting takes place on Tuesday, November 6th, along with state and national elections.

 

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