By: Tony Best
As a former New York City Comptroller who narrowly missed being elected New York City’s Mayor less than three years ago William Thompson is quite familiar with the West Indian Carnival along Eastern Parkway.
So, if you spot him walking along the parade route with other public officials on Monday, he isn’t doing it simply for the public support his presence may attract.
“I really believe the West Indian carnival is good for New York City and it is good for the state of New York,” was the way the candidate for the 2013 Democratic mayoral nomination put it to the Carib News. “Carnival celebrations bring visitors to the City and it encourages revelers and others to spend money. In other words it adds to the treasury. That is important for everyone. That’s why I strongly believe that the festival needs more financial and other support from the City, no questions asked.”
But there’s another reason for his enthusiastic backing of the West Indian cultural extravaganza.
“Over the years, first as the Deputy Borough President of Brooklyn and later as Comptroller it was my privilege for many years with the West Indian American Day Carnival Association,” he explained. “I shared in the joy of this unique and longstanding cultural celebration. The color, splendor and creativity that make the festival the outstanding and appealing occasion that it is are a tribute to the contribution of West Indians to the City and to the country. Since its inception WIADCA has dedicated itself to serving the City’s Caribbean community.”
Next is his family background, plus the fact that he grew up in Brooklyn and saw the festival grow from early years to the extravaganza it is today.
Thompson’s grandparents were Caribbean immigrants and he was influenced by their ways of life.
“The carnival is a showcase for West Indian creativity,” Thompson told the Carib News. “The City must make sure that it stays strong. Should I win the Democratic nomination and the mayoral election, I would be a in a position help.”
Thompson, who is among the best known candidates vying for the 2013 nomination, including Bill de Blasio, the Public Advocate, and Christine Quinn, the City Council Speaker, is expected to attend some of festival events. Interestingly, Quinn is among this year’s parade’s grand marshals.
“My background in public office is the strongest when compared with some of the other candidates,” asserted Thompson. “But my race isn’t about the other candidates, Far from it. It’s about a vision for the City, one that embraces all New Yorkers. The construction of more affordable housing for residents is, for example, an essential part of that vision.”
Although immigration reform remains a federal matter, Thompson is adding his voice in support of President Barack Obama’s initiative for young undocumented immigrants who can now apply for an exemption from deportation.
“I am supporting the President on this matter because young people must be given a chance to complete their education and be able to work without fear of being deported to countries they know very little about,” he said. “The president is acting because the Congress has dragged its feet on reforms which would help the immigrants. Comprehensive immigration reform is essential. We are helping young people but what about their parents who are in the country as undocumented residents. Immigration reform would be the solution for them.”
Thompson has promised that as the mayoral race heats up, voters would be provided with the details of his plans in the fields of education, health, housing, care for the elderly and economic development.
“As a native New Yorker I understand the City,” he added.