Back in July I received an e-mail from someone named Francine Brown. The subject heading was “Chance for Choice”. The e-mail said:
I would like to announce that Craig Schley is taking a big leap, to enter the ring as a contender for the Congressional seat of Charles Rangel.Â This is an extension of the fight for our beloved Harlem community,Â through the lawsuit against the city, that he and Vote People are currently litigating in court.Â I’m asking you forÂ simple assistance to gather signatures, for Craig Schley, so that he can get on the ballot, to at least give the people a choice. Take one or two petitions(or more of course), that has ten signature spaces each.
I thought great.
The first step for anyone to get on the ballot is to get neighborhood signatures. It would be great to see another name besides Charles Rangel on election day. I don’t have anything against Rangel (actually there are a couple of things but that’s not the point right now), it’s just that I’d like to to at least feel like I’m voting for the best candidate on election day, and not just the only candidate in a particular party.
The e-mail was from a Yahoo account and I responded and asked for Schley’s direct contact info. I wanted to ask him a couple of questions.
Never received contact info, but did receive a phone call. Ms. Brown left a message but I could not understand the number that she left. About two weeks later, I sent another e-mail stating that I did get the message but had been out of town. She may have called again (don’t remember), but we never spoke about Schley’s campaign.
I’ve lived in Harlem all my life and voted for the last 20 years. I’m familiar with local elected and appointed officials and his name didn’t “ring a bell”. I figured that it was probably someone I had seen before but didn’t know their name.
About a month and a half later I got another e-mail saying that he was on the ballot. I thought cool, it’s official. Let the campaigning begin.
I waited for an official e-mail.
I started to think that maybe I’ve been spoiled by the Obama campaign and my expectations for a local candidate were too high. But as I continued to get e-mails about Kevin Powell’s congressional race, similar to Schley’s in that he was trying to unseat a long time incumbent, I figured my expectations were on point.
In my opinion, if no one know who you are and the chances are as slim as they look like they may be for Schley, people are going to scrutinize your campaign harder. And if you are seriously looking to win, I’d say you really need to come correct. The platform should be tight and I expect you to actually earn for my vote.
While Rangel definitely has the advantage with his campaign budget, an opponent could still win against him by hitting the streets hard and going direct to the people. In the past I’ve seen people at train stations during rush hour, on 125th street in front of popular destinations, community board meeting, etc.
According to his website, Schley did make the rounds, but according to several people who heard him speak, his platform was lacking. I thought the same thing when I checked out the platform on his campaign website. They just appear to be generic talking points. Nothing specific.
If I had to sum up his campaign in one sentence, it would be:
Vote for me because Charles Rangel is bad.
Not what I will do for Harlem, no new innovative ideas just — Charles Rangel is bad, vote for me.
He has been actively involved in rezoning real estate issues in the neighborhood through his non-profit Vote People and this appears to be the only issue that he seems to be strong on.
According to the New York Times, “when asked why he decided against running in the Democratic primary in the heavily Democratic district, Mr. Schley said that running as an independent in the general election would offer him a longer campaign season.”
I believe Schley avoided the Democratic primary to avoid a real race where a full discussion of all issues would have been demanded.
If you look at the media page on his website, all of the articles talk about him taking on Rangel or gentrification, but nothing about his ideas.
Gentrification should definitely be discussed by candidates, but there are many other issues that I feel he did not take the opportunity to address in detail.
In my online quest to find out more info about Schley, I’ve come across interesting comments from people who know him, people who have worked with him as well as from voters in the Harlem community.
The picture they paint of Schley is not a pretty one.
For a candidate trying to capitalize on Charlie Rangel’s ethics issues, I was surprised to learn that there he has a few issues of his own.
About 75% of them attack his character and motive for running. Christopher Williams aka True Harlemite appears to have a vendetta against Schley. He has made comments against him in almost every article that I’ve seen about Schley on the web.
Apparently he owes him money. I wonder if it’s from producing his campaign video. The video was upload on the web from his company.
Someone even added more detailed info about Schley in the comments section of our own website from the original article that we did Schley in the local media. Click here to read the comments.
In the same New York Times article mentioned above, Schley says, â€œWe believe we will win and we know it will be a shock,â€ Mr. Schley said. â€œIs this an uphill race? Of course it is. But how else do you get to be king of the hill if youâ€™re not willing to start climbing the hill.â€
As a voter in Harlem, I suggest that instead of Schley trying to climb the big hill in neighborhood, that he take a walk around the park first and try for a less daunting political adventure.