FOR years, state Assemblyman Jerrold Nadler has wanted to do something about New York City's gridlocked streets. However, even the city has ignored his ideas.
Now that may change: New York County Democrats have chosen Mr. Nadler to succeed Rep. Ted Weiss, who passed on earlier this month. Nadler begins by finishing Representative Weiss's term. Since the district has a 6 to 1 Democratic voting margin, Nadler's own election is virtually certain.
Nadler is a strong liberal, as was Weiss. He begins a list of his priorities with the phrase "social justice." He says his other priorities in Congress will be ensuring a woman's right to choose abortion, the shift "from a military economy to a peacetime economy," and federal laws against domestic violence.
Nadler's liberal bias fits in with his constituency - the west side of Manhattan extending through parts of Brooklyn to Brighton Beach. It is an area that is home to political activists, homosexuals, ex-hippies working on Wall Street, artists, old Irish clans and Russian Jewish immigrants.
This aggregation turned out to elect Nadler in a demonstration of democracy, New York-style. Homosexuals turned out to support City Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge, who said "It's time to stop sending men to Congress." Bella Abzug, who used to represent the district, showed up in a bright red hat and suit. "I'm not the Pepsi generation, I'm the real thing," she said. Other candidates told the audience about their support for universal health care, AIDS measures, and abortion rights.
However, Nadler also has an interest in promoting the area's economy - particularly its transportation base. In a draft of a report on the region Nadler writes, "The long-term economic decline of the New York City metropolitan region is directly attributable to the disappearence of the Port of New York as a gateway between this nation and the rest of the industrialized world."
John McHugh, a co-author of the report, says Nadler's understanding of the area's economy separates him from other liberals. "Nadler understands the importance of rail freight to get trucks off the streets," says Mr. McHugh, a transportation lawyer.
Nadler has been promoting a terminal in some abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad yards along the Hudson River. In a recent letter to West Side residents, he notes that this proposed terminal would annually eliminate 80,000 truck trips on the city's streets. It would also help manufacturers in the garment district.
Nadler's plan has not endeared him to Donald Trump - the city's well-known dealmaker - who plans to build a commercial and residential project on the land.
In fact, Nadler is also fighting other commercial developments on the West Side. For this reason, it will be interesting to see who replaces him in the state assembly.