City Councilman Mathieu Eugene faces challenger


Kirsten Danis

Monday, October 29th 2007, 5:22 PM


Surely you've heard about the political throwdown going on in Brooklyn. City Councilman Mathieu Eugene is facing a challenger who wants the seat he's held for six months.


You haven't heard about it? Oh, wait. Maybe you missed it because if this campaign were any quieter, it would be a silent movie. Eugene is expected to win in a landslide next week against a barely known Republican who got just 46 write-in votes the last time around.


That didn't stop Eugene from raising $25,000 - and getting another $20,000 in taxpayer money through the matching funds program, according to records filed Friday with the Campaign Finance Board.


Like Eugene, Councilman Vincent Ignizio had to run again after winning a special election this year to fill a vacant seat. Ignizio (R.I.) had no opponent. He raised $105.


Eugene, who is running in a district that includes parts of Crown Heights, Flatbush and east Flatbush, cost taxpayers thousands after the special election he won in February had to be thrown out when it was discovered he didn't live in the district. Eugene changed his address, and another vote in April cost an estimated $350,000.


The bulk of Eugene's spending has been on rent and expenses for his Flatbush Ave. headquarters - and fund-raising.


Reached on Friday, Eugene defended his approach.


"When you have an opening [on the Council], you have an opening. I look at it as an opening. I don't know what my opponent is doing," Eugene said. "I got to be ready for any opponent that may decide to come."


His opponent, Clarence John, doesn't pose much of a threat. He hasn't raised a cent - or at least filed anything with the Campaign Finance Board - and didn't return a call for comment. Yet Eugene was still pulling in checks as late as last week.


You may not have heard of this Council race, but you're certainly paying for it.


* * *


If you're thinking about running for mayor, you probably don't want to anger one of the city's largest and most politically active unions.


Such is the dilemma facing Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is tussling with District Council 37, which represents 121,000 municipal employees - and all their election firepower.


The union plans to hold a noisy rally with other labor heavy-hitters tomorrow at City Hall smacking the Council for holding up a resolution that would allow its members who are required to live in the city to be able to move to surrounding suburbs.


Plenty of Council members - most visibly, Robert Jackson of Manhattan - oppose the measure, saying it would be a giveaway of working- and middle-class jobs to outsiders. The union says its members want the same right given to other city employees, such as cops, firefighters and teachers.


Quinn tried compromise - including a deal that would lift the requirement for individuals after a few years - but the union isn't budging.


Earlier this year, DC 37 threatened to withhold money and votes from anyone who didn't back the measure. It sounded to some like blackmail, but they were only saying out loud what's usually whispered.


Let's see if Quinn was listening.

Kirsten Danis the New York Daily News' City Hall Bureau Chief.


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