Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The call of public service is still loud for Koppell

By Shant Shahrigian
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Councilman Oliver Koppell, pictured in his office on Nov. 21, is contemplating a run for state senate as his term on the city council comes to a close.
File photo by Alan Zale
Assemblyman G. Oliver Koppell leads a march in support of the bottle bill in April 1982 outside of Van Cortlandt Park on Broadway. The bill, which mandated refunds for recyclable beverage containers, became a hallmark of Mr. Koppell’s tenure as an assemblyman.

Councilman G. Oliver Koppell’s last term on the city’s legislative body will conclude Dec. 31, but riding off into the sunset is not in the works for the longtime incumbent.

During the remainder of the city council session, Mr. Koppell — who chairs the committee on mental health, developmental disability and other related issues — is advocating a bill to ensure the state fulfills requirements to give contracts to companies with blind employees, among other groups, whenever possible. He is also pushing the council to pass a resolution allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana.

Still, ending his 12 years on the city council on a productive note does not appear to satisfy Mr. Koppell.

The councilman, who previously served as an assemblyman, attorney general and school board president, is considering running for yet another public office.

This time around, Mr. Koppell is eyeing the 34th district state senate seat, currently held by Jeffrey Klein.

“I am very unhappy about Jeff Klein making common cause with the Republicans, and I think that it’s preventing some very important legislation from moving forward,” Mr. Koppell said in reference to Mr. Klein’s alliance with Senate Co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County.

Mr. Koppell, who did not seek re-election to the council due to term limits, said he plans to commission an independent pollster to explore his chances.

Mr. Koppell said he would make a decision about a state senate run based on whether he is the best candidate to challenge Mr. Klein, whether he stands a chance of defeating him and whether his wife of 30 years, Lorraine Coyle Koppell, supports the undertaking. Ms. Koppell, a lawyer, ran an unsuccessful state senate campaign in 2000.

“The issue is not whether [Mr. Klein] can get a pothole filled. He probably can get a pothole filled as effectively as I can get a pothole filled,” Mr. Koppell said. “But the issue is whether he is empowering the Republicans and also disempowering the Democrats, and does that resonate? Do people care about that?”

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