Bay Ridge

Eagle Q&A: Capano refuses to give up on City Council race

November 2, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Reform Party City Council candidate Bob Capano says he will not give up the race. Photo courtesy of Capano’s campaign
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Bob Capano won’t go down without a fight. 

Capano’s name will be on the ballot on Nov. 7, but not as the “lifelong Republican” he portrayed himself as during his unsuccessful run to be the Republican Party nominee for City Council. Instead, Capano has joined forces with Guardian Angels founder and popular WABC radio personality Curtis Sliwa and the Reform Party.

Capano, is running for the 43rd City Council District (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst) seat, currently held by Vincent Gentile. He is challenging Republican nominee John Quaglione and Democratic candidate Justin Brannan. Capano is an adjunct professor of history at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and also manages a Gristedes supermarket.

Just days before the general election, Capano sat down to answer questions about his job qualifications, switching party allegiance and why he is determined to stay in the City Council race despite the fact that all the odds are seemingly against him.

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Brooklyn Eagle: How did you get your start in politics?

Bob Capano:  After graduating from Xaverian High School, I decided to go to Orange County Community College where I became involved in student government. Even as a high school student, I loved politics and I interned with state Sen. Christopher Mega and worked on his campaign. I always had an interest in government and public service.

Eagle: You worked with U.S. Rep. Bob Turner and former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. What was that like?

Capano: I have spent a big part of my life working in public service. But I’ve also worked in the private sector. Working with Bob Turner was an exciting experience. Of course, he replaced Anthony Weiner, so there was a lot of attention focused on him. It was a big win and I was his district chief of staff representing parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

And I was a community liaison for Marty Markowitz. We developed a great relationship. He not only kept me, but he promoted me to director of the Community Board. A lot of Democrats told him to get rid me because I was a Republican, but we had developed a close personal relationship and he saw how respected I was in the community so he kept me on.

Eagle: You’ve been pursuing the City Council position quite vigorously. What motivated you to first decide to run?

Capano: I think this community needs a common-sense independent voice; someone who is not part of the political party establishment and someone who is not aligned with the party bosses.  I think I’m a common-sense independent alternative to both of my opponents who have basically spent their entire lives working as elected officials on the taxpayer’s dime, while the majority of my life has been in the private sector.

Eagle: But a case can be made that both of your opponents have vast experience in public service. John Quaglione has served 19 years with state Sen. Marty Golden and Justin Brannan has worked many years as Gentile’s chief of staff. They certainly have put their time in serving the community.

Capano: See, what you just said is the exact reason I’m running. I think the most important qualification to run for City Council should not be the amount of time you’ve spent working for an elected official. The most important determining factor should be how you use your principles, your experience and what you have done for the community. I have a civic background as former president of the 68th Precinct Youth Council. I have the business experience managing over $6 million in annual sales with a supermarket. I have the education experience as a former high school social studies teacher. To me, those type of private sector experiences are much more important than just answering the phone for elected officials.

Eagle: But they certainly do more than answer phones and you do have to admit that they have the experience for the job.

Capano: And that’s why I’m proud to say that I have some experience working in the private sector. No one else can say that they’ve worked for Brooklyn’s top Democrat Marty Markowitz and top Republicans former Congressmen Bob Turner and Vito Fossella. That demonstrates that I am truly an independent voice.

Eagle: During the primary you called yourself “the only lifelong Republican in the race” and said that was the reason people should vote for you. How does that claim stand up to your now switching allegiance and running on the Reform Party line?

Capano: That’s a fair question. I believe all politics is local. And I was very disappointed throughout the primary process that the Republican leadership here in Brooklyn basically excluded me. Both Liam McCabe and John Quaglione were included in a deal where the county provided them with joint petitions that the Mayoral candidates and the borough president candidates were on. I was not asked to be on it. I would have gladly been part of it. But they basically excluded me from the county party.

Eagle: You’re saying the party excluded you, not the candidates, correct?

Capano: Yes, it was not the candidates but the Republican Party leadership that excluded me. I was not asked to be part of this petition that supposedly said that the county was going to be neutral and not support anyone, and they basically did not support me.

Eagle: But in all fairness, the Republican Party did not support any candidate during the primaries.

Capano: But again, I was not included on the petition.

Eagle: What are some of the things that differentiate you and your Reform Party ideals from the other candidates?

Capano: Well the main thing is that a key tenet of the Reform Party platform is that we need more citizen legislators. The most important thing should be people who aren’t beholden to the party bosses and political machines.

Eagle: At John Quaglione’s primary victory celebration, you went up on stage and congratulated him on his win. You said some very nice things about him and it appeared that you were going to throw your support behind him. While you did not outwardly endorse him, you certainly implied that you would support him. So, why aren’t you endorsing him at this time?

Capano: Because I have to keep my word to the Reform Party. It’s something that more candidates and politicians should do. When the Reform Party interviewed all candidates for their endorsement, including John Quaglione and Liam McCabe, the question that I was specifically asked was, ‘If we support you, we want your promise that you are going to run on our line no matter what happens in the primary.” I gave my word. I said, “Yes, I will run on your line.” So I am keeping my word.

Eagle: I moderated that first debate when John Quaglione asked you and Liam to pledge that whomever did not win the primary would shake hands and stand by the winner in the days following the primary and pledge their support. You and Liam both agreed and it did not happen. [McCabe has since thrown his support behind Quaglione.]

Capano: That first debate was way back in March or April, I believe. [It took place on May 4.] It was early in the political process. And yes, at that point I said that. But then the Reform Party interview happened later in May or early June and I didn’t know that the Reform Party was going to make that “ask” of me. My pledge was to a political party at that time. I made a later pledge and I had to keep that one.

Eagle: So knowing that no prior Reform Party candidate has won this election, why should voters choose you over one of the other two major party candidates?

Capano: This is the first City Council election the Reform Party is participating in. The Reform Party’s belief and mine is that voters deserve more choices and not less. It’s up to the candidate to make their case to the voters. It’s not like I’m just asking Republicans to vote from me. I’m asking Independent voters, I’m asking non-affiliated voters to vote for me and I’m asking Democrats to vote for me.

Eagle: How do you defend yourself to those who call you a “disruptor” in this race.

Capano: I haven’t really heard that term before. I’ve heard spoiler, which I’m not. It just goes back to my keeping my word to the Reform Party. There have been many deals made in this City Council race and the Reform Party is not part of any deals. They asked me to promise that if I received their endorsement I would continue to run full speed ahead. And that’s what I am going to do.


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