Fernando James Ferrer (born April 30, 1950) is an American politician who was the Borough President of The Bronx from 1987 to 2001, and was a candidate for Mayor of New York City in 2001 and the Democratic Party nominee for Mayor in 2005.
|Vice Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
|Assumed office |
June 15, 2011
|Preceded by||Andrew Saul|
|Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
November 9, 2018 – March 31, 2019
|Preceded by||Joseph J. Lhota|
|Succeeded by||Pat Foye|
February 1, 2017 – June 20, 2017
|Preceded by||Thomas F. Prendergast|
|Succeeded by||Joseph J. Lhota|
January 1, 2013 – June 19, 2013
|Preceded by||Joseph J. Lhota|
|Succeeded by||Thomas F. Prendergast|
|11th Borough President of The Bronx|
April 15, 1987 – December 31, 2001
|Preceded by||Stanley Simon|
|Succeeded by||Adolfo Carrión, Jr.|
Fernando James Ferrer
April 30, 1950
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Baruch College (M.P.A.)|
New York University (B.A.)
Early life and educationEdit
Ferrer grew up on Fox Street in the Longwood section of the South Bronx and was raised by his mother and by his grandmother, who worked in the kitchen of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Ferrer graduated from Catholic schools in the Bronx: St. Anselm Elementary School and Cardinal Spellman High School. As a high school student, he was a member of ASPIRA of New York, where he was elected to the post of Vice President of the citywide Aspira Clubs Federation (ACF), which included other future Puerto Rican leaders like Ninfa Segarra and Angelo Falcón. In 1968, as an Aspirante, he was part of a major student protest at the NYC Board of Education that resulted in such reforms as bilingual report cards and the recognition by the public schools of Puerto Rican Discovery Day (November 19). His family have Catalan origins.
Ferrer represented the former 13 City Council district in the Bronx from 1982 to 1987. Ferrer authored legislation requiring interpreters in city emergency rooms. Ferrer went on to chair the Health Committee, fight for anti-discrimination laws on behalf of gays and lesbians, and lead the fight for a Civilian Complaint Review Board for the NYPD.
Bronx Borough PresidentEdit
Ferrer was appointed Bronx Borough President as the result of incumbent Stanley Simon’s resignation in connection with the Wedtech scandal. In 1987, Simon, aware that he had been under investigation and that charges against him were pending, resigned from his post. A year earlier, bribery and extortion scandal at the Parking Violations Bureau took down then-Bronx Democratic Party boss Stanley Friedman. Ferrer began his 14-year tenure as Bronx borough president when the borough was a symbol of urban decay and neglect. National attention led to a federal commitment to rebuild. During the Ferrer administration housing was created for about 66,000 families. The borough saw a significant drop in crime, particularly in the South Bronx neighborhood, and a steady rise in business and real estate investment.
In 1997, Ferrer launched a campaign for Mayor of New York. Trailing in the polls and under increased pressure from party insiders for a unified Democratic Party, he abruptly dropped out and endorsed the eventual Democratic nominee, Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger.
2001 mayoral campaignEdit
In the 2001 election, Ferrer ran for the Democratic nomination for mayor. He won the first primary with 34%, but failed to win the necessary 40% to secure the nomination and ultimately lost a divisive runoff election to Mark Green following the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers. Ferrer, who is of Puerto Rican descent, received a high level of support from Hispanic voters but not from African-Americans. In the first round, Ferrer also finished ahead of City Council Speaker Peter Vallone and Comptroller Alan Hevesi.
2005 mayoral campaignEdit
During the campaign, Ferrer proposed reviving a stock transfer tax for Wall Street to help pay for education; this tax ended in 1981 but while different and smaller than the original tax was treated as if it were exactly the same. The tax had resulted in and been dropped as a result of threats by brokerage houses to move their operations base to New Jersey. Ferrer sought to create 167,000 homes, proposed hiring 1,900 new police officers, supported same-sex marriage, opposed the Urstadt law, supported the Second Avenue Subway and was opposed to tolls on the East River bridges as well as allowing residents of Staten Island to be able to cross the bridge connecting Staten Island to Brooklyn for free as other residents of other boroughs can do from their borough to others (such as the Brooklyn Bridge). On October 23, Ferrer proposed Home Owner Property Exemption, or HOPE, a tax break for homeowners with a home property value of less than $100,000 which would have more than doubled the property tax rebate given to NYers.
A theme of his election campaign in 2001 was called the Two New Yorks and was altered for the 2005 campaign due to attacks that it was too race motivated. This is the conclusion of his stump speech:
- This is not about one New York against the other, this is about building a city united in opportunity, where all of us live under the blessing of possibility.
- There are two New Yorks. I have lived in both of them. Born in one, I crossed the bridge of hope and opportunity into the other, but I have never forgotten where I came from.
- That bridge took me from shining shoes on 149th Street and Southern Boulevard to this place where possibility opened up for me. It took me from Fox Street to the nomination of the Democratic Party to be Mayor of my hometown.
- It is that bridge that is the most important human infrastructure project, the bridge with planks of hope and opportunity that must be carefully maintained by a mayor who has never forgotten the millions of New Yorkers must be able to walk over that bridge too.
- And I will never stop fighting for what I believe in until every New Yorker can cross that bridge – and live in the greatest city in the world, with every opportunity they deserve, and where every dream—the way my mother believed—is possible.
His campaign was hurt by remarks he made in March 2005 concerning the Amadou Diallo shooting. Ferrer, who'd marched in protest against the shooting when it occurred and had gotten arrested, expressed his belief to the New York City Police Department Sergeants Benevolent Association that the incident was a "tragedy," but "not a crime." He was strongly criticized by Diallo's family and others for these remarks, and he slid in popularity polls, especially among African-Americans. These comments, although taken out of context, were never properly addressed and just followed the campaign the entire way. The comments and ensuing events also caused a long-time campaign consultant, from Chicago, and a new spokesperson, from Texas, to leave the campaign due to a power struggle over what to do. The new campaign team was made up of advisors from Ferrer's primary consulting firm, Global Strategy Group.
In the primary election held on September 13, 2005, the first tally indicated that Ferrer garnered 39.95% of the final vote. He needed 40% to avoid a runoff, but Anthony D. Weiner, the second-place finisher, conceded, thus ensuring Ferrer would advance to the general election. A final count of the total votes indicated that Ferrer actually received 40.15% of the votes. Ferrer also defeated Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller.
Over the course of the campaign he was endorsed by Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer, Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards, as well as Howard Dean, Reverend Al Sharpton, the Working Families Party and former Mayor David Dinkins.
Bill Clinton endorsed Ferrer on October 20. Despite the importance of the endorsement, local media such as 1010 WINS:[permanent dead link] emphasized minor snafus, arguing that "Ferrer's golden opportunity was nearly wasted as miscommunication between Clinton's office and Ferrer's campaign caused some snags and disarray." This "problem" was due to an issue with a sound system.
- If anyone doubted the hapless nature of Ferrer's campaign they had only to watch his ads featuring the rotund Reverend Al Sharpton salsa dancing. In Fernando Ferrer's losing bid for mayor, that was about as innovative as things got. The campaign was also plagued by revenue problems as the ads they wished to use were too long and hence too expensive and these "salsa" ads were done to save money but also to hopefully get the campaign some needed attention. Sadly, the focus became Al Sharpton and the others used in these ads rather than the message they tried to convey.
Ferrer's campaign was hurt when the New York Times and other big newspapers endorsed Mike Bloomberg. Also, Ferrer's campaign relied mainly on small contributions, compared to Bloomberg's $96 million from his personal billion dollar fortune.
Bloomberg defeated Ferrer by a margin of 19 percent although pre-election polls done just days before had claimed that he would lose by between 30 and 35 percent with the New York Post declaring the weekend before the election that it was over.
2005 NYC Democratic ticketEdit
Ferrer was a co-chairman at Mercury Consulting.
Ferrer resides in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Though both Riverdale and Ferrer's native Hunts Point are located in the Bronx, they are the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods in the borough, respectively.
- MTA - Fernando Ferrer Archived 2014-02-21 at the Wayback Machine
- "Bronx Chief Quits and Friedman Gets 12-year Sentence". New York Times. 1987-03-12.
- "Friedman is Sentenced to 12 Years in Corruption Case". New York Time. 1987-03-12.
- "Profile: Fernando Ferrer", The New York Times, August 10, 2005. Accessed May 4, 2008. "HOMETOWN Riverdale, the Bronx"