A grassroots candidate is running for Mayor of New York City and he’s bringing in an attention-grabbing set of qualifications to become Bloomberg’s successor.
Tom Allon is a journalist and a former educator that has high aspirations for city government.
While the race for mayor is two years away, Allon is off to a running start. He’s already released his first campaign ad on television and he recently held his first fundraiser at the Empire State Ballroom. Tom is beginning to attract serious media attention because he is very knowledgeable on a host of issues that affect New Yorkers on a small town, community level. When you talk to him, you’ll quickly understand.
Tom grew up on the West Side of Manhattan, near Riverside Drive and received a Bachelors degree in History from Cornell University. While his studies did not have a focus on public policy, he is a passionate writer that has traversed the journalistic landscape as a reporter, an editor, and a publisher. He believes his experience will bring a pragmatic approach to public policy making.
Presently, Tom is the CEO of Manhattan Media, which publishes lifestyle magazines such as Avenue and New York Family and community newspapers including City Hall and the Capital. He has also served as the Executive Vice-President of News Communications, the parent company of the Queens Tribune.
Tom is running as a pro-choice Democrat in a crowded primary. While he’s not exactly the new kid on the block of civic activists, as of November 22 he’s raised zero dollars in his campaign finance account. In comparison, Christine Quinn who is widely expected to run for Mayor – but has not yet declared – is sitting on a $4.5 million dollar campaign war chest.
Why is Tom running for Mayor?
“I believe that this city needs new direction for education policy and I think my skills are necessary to get the economy back on track,” said Tom who described his run as an effort “to keep the city out of the hands of career politicians.”
Despite the odds, Tom is confident he’s got the makings of the next Mayor of New York City.
Tom has held leadership positions in a pastiche of organizations, boards and committees. He has served as President of the New York Press Association, a member of the board of directors for Symphony Space (a performing arts center in Manhattan), as well as the West Side Crime Prevention Program, the Broadway Mall Association, and he is very proud of his accomplishments as a member of the Steering Committee to create two schools, Eleanor Roosevelt High School and Frank McCourt High School, both are located in Manhattan.
Tom believes that community boards should have final decision-making authority in land-use decisions. He wants to see an overhaul of the vetting process for choosing Community Board members that are appointed by the City Council Member and the Borough President, a process he feels is corrupt.
“I think the Community Board should be more transparent and democratic – I’m not so sure Council Members and the Beep should pick Community Board members, we don’t have enough participation as it is,” he said.
Tom believes the selection process, hearings, and votes lack transparency – even though they are public record and are available online or upon request. “If it weren’t for community papers these issues wouldn’t get covered,” he lamented, adding, “whether through city or private funds, we must publicize the discussions of community boards so that people know what’s going on.”
On his Facebook page, Tom advocated to raise a new class of astute volunteers that can help parents navigate public school resources.
“Parenting coaches should be available free of charge at all public, parochial and private schools in the city,” said Tom.
He’d like to see the city start a Parents Corps (he draws a comparison to the Peace Corps) which he said would be comprised of “highly qualified and carefully screened volunteers who can help New York City’s millions of parents negotiate our flawed and complicated education system.”
Pundits are tossing pessimistic barbs back and forth, but I doubt they’ve had a chance to hear Tom make a strong case for the mayorship. -QP
Mr. Allon has a well-rounded grasp of education and quality of life issues because he is an average Joe New Yorker. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He takes the bus and subway to work every morning and he enjoys riding his bicycle around town.
His political role models – past and present – are Governor Andrew Cuomo, “but he’s only been in office for a year, it’s too early to tell yet,” he said, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President.
Tom’s family is not politically connected. In an effort to level the media playing field, Tom sent a memo to City Hall reporters informing them that he will recuse himself from publication during his campaign and told his writers not to fear any repercussions for a harsh critique of his candidacy, he promised.
Asked how he felt about the growing 99% Movement, Tom praised the group’s ability to “raise the consciousness and the inequities in the finance and banking system.” Tom even spent the night sleeping over at Zuccotti Park, but he believed the OWS protest in front of Bloomberg’s home on the West Side was in bad taste.
“It’s a bit misguided to go in front of somebody’s home but democracy protects us,” according to Allon who added, “If you run for public office, you must be prepared for this, although, I’m not so sure he was home.”
Stay tuned to Queens-Politics.com for the latest updates on Tom Allon.