For Vince Chirico, the latest candidate to jump into the crowded Democratic primary field for term-limited City Councilmember Vincent Gentile‘s 43rd District City Council Seat, the reason for running was glaringly apparent.
“What became obvious to me –– over the course of time –– is that we didn’t have a really strong Democratic candidate,” said Chirico, an attorney and long-time resident of the district, who has lived in the area since he and his parents immigrated to the United States from Southern Italy.
As for his thoughts on his potential Republican challengers, the Chirico fears they would be at a disadvantage as the minority in a mostly Democratic New York City Council. Republican candidates would not have the influence necessary to get things done for the community. “If the seat goes Republican in the fall, this community will lose out,” said the candidate.
KCP sat down with the candidate at A.L.C Italian Grocery store at 8613 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge. In the background, played the sounds of a Pavarotti-like tenor mixed with repeated banging of what I came to discover were the sounds of the rudimentary practice of tenderizing meat.
When the candidate’s parents migrated from Calabria, they settled in the Bensonhurst part of the district. Five years later they realized their American Dream and became homeowners thus moving to Dyker Heights by the time Chirico was 13.
From Bensonhurst to Dyker Heights the candidate has been a main stay throughout the District serving on Community Board 11 for ever 20 years. Chirico says he’s been advocating as a civil litigator and appellate specialist for years, both throughout the city and within his own community – Dyker Heights. His advocacy extends from helping individuals to small businesses, the latter of which will be the subject of key campaign objectives. Given the chance to serve as City Council of District 43, Chirico said he would forgo his law practice and advocate full-time as a City Councilmember.
In fact, Chirico said he would find it more difficult to resign from the three non-profit agencies he heads. The Dyker Heights Athletic Association is one of the nonprofit organizations in which Chirico serves as vice president. The youth sports organization, housed in the St. Bernadette Parish in Dyker Heights, has provided adolescents and teens with training and development through league sports activities and fundraising. The slogan “Nurturing Through Competition” is repeated throughout the company’s website.
Last week the nonprofit celebrated their fifth annual Kids Marathon where nearly 500 5- to 14-year-olds ran 2 and a half miles in Dyker Heights. The event raised $30,000 for one of the campaigns that the nonprofit sponsors.
The outreach he does with the youth organization keeps him in tune with what’s going on in the public school system. Chirico is a strong advocate of public schools and with the exception of his law degree, has attended public schools since his U.S. arrival in 1973. He studied political science and legal studies at City University of New York (CUNY).
“I’m a public school product, it made me what I am today,” said Chirico.
The candidate acknowledged some of the struggles New York City schools are experiencing and spoke about the need to bring funding back into NYC schools. Chirico attributes co-locations and the bureaucratic distribution of funds as part of the reason why public schools are suffering financially.
“I still talk to a number of teachers who buy their own supplies,” said Chirico.
As a remedy to overcrowding, the candidate suggested rehousing charter schools in vacant parochial schools as an immediate fix. Chirico pointed to some successful marriages in the Bronx where parochial schools leased unused spaced to charter schools.
His reference to a Bronx school triggered an unrelated but, but relevant question about the candidate’s media diet. Chirico easily recited the top New York publications, obviously missing one important contribution to NYC’s literary pulse, –– “Daily News, New York Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and then I go online and scan the local papers.”
Proud father of 18-year old Mark and 15-year-old Isabella, Chirico like most parents, is concerned with the area’s prolific opioid issue. He intends to focus on the treatment portion of the problem.
“Brooklyn has had the second highest number of overdose deaths due to drug abuse in 2016, said Chirico. “277 deaths –– many of them were from here.”
Chirico wants to partner neighborhood policing with local non-profit healthcare services to tackle the opioid issue. He noted some nonprofit organizations currently functioning in that capacity and is looking to expand that kind of partnership. The candidate applauds the city’s efforts in providing law enforcement with the tools to tackle the crisis but feels his advocacy efforts would be more helpful on the treatment end.
“Without treatment there is no solution to this mess,” said Chirico.
The primary election is Sept. 12.