Kruger Challenger Igor Oberman Campaigns on Support for Transit

ObermanHandingOutLit.JPGIgor Oberman hands out literature touting his support for transit and bridge tolls at the Kings Highway station this morning. Photo: Noah Kazis.

The primaries are only four months away, and election season is starting to heat up in New York. All signs point to strong anti-incumbent sentiment among voters, with several entrenched legislators facing primary challenges. In Brooklyn’s 27th State Senate district, long-time incumbent Carl Kruger is facing a primary challenge for the seat he’s held since 1994.

Kruger is best known to Streetsblog readers for his role last year in gutting the Ravitch Plan and killing bridge tolls, which would have put the transit system on steadier financial footing. His opponent, Igor Oberman, has made support for public transit a centerpiece of his campaign.

Oberman, an administrative judge for the Taxi and Limousine Commission and Environmental Control Board, launched his campaign a few weeks ago after deciding that the powerful finance committee chair needed a serious opponent. "I don’t think he represents the people inside the district or the Democratic Party," said Oberman. 

For the last few weeks, Oberman has been handing out literature [PDF]
at busy subway stations across southern Brooklyn, criticizing Kruger and
fellow Fare Hike Four members Ruben Diaz, Sr. and Pedro Espada for scuttling the plan to toll bridges over the Harlem and East Rivers, an act of obstructionism that set the stage for major service cuts and layoffs. Transit riders will feel more effects soon: The MTA’s budget gap still exceeds $450 million.

At the Kings Highway station this morning, Oberman questioned whether his opponent can relate to constituents who depend on transit. "When’s the last time he ever took the subway?" he asked, before flashing his very well-worn MetroCard. Oberman believes that "this is a commuter district" and that transit is "as important to them as police service or ambulances." 

Oberman supports bridge tolls, if the revenue is used to keep transit fares low and service strong. "We deserve a better transit system," he said. "We’re trying to go green and compete as a major metro area."

Oberman also thinks that fighting for transit is a political winner, even if it means supporting bridge tolls. "Are bridge tolls popular in this district? No," he said. "But more popular than cutting student MetroCards." 

To get a sense for how Oberman’s message is playing, I spoke to two commuters who took his literature. Andrew Delre, who was waiting for the Q train, said he believes that it’s "definitely" important to be represented in the State Senate by another subway rider. What about bridge tolls? "Definitely not," he said. "It’s just another tax for the people of New York City."

Another rider, who gave her name as Rachel, said she agreed in full with Oberman’s platform. "I don’t think they should raise the fares again," she said. "But people with cars should have to pay
tolls too. I mean, it’s only fair." 

Streetsblog has a message in with Senator Kruger’s office to see how his transit platform stacks up against his challenger’s.

  • Senator Kruger will return your call as soon as he locates his transit platform. He knows it’s around their somewhere. He thinks. Maybe. Does free parking count as “transit?”

  • “Their,” as in “there.”

  • Brandon

    Its not exactly cheap to maintain those bridges. Time for car drivers to start to pay their own way, just like transit riders do. Do the roads have the farebox recovery ratio that the NYC subway has? I doubt it.

  • jerry

    Kruger hasn’t been in the Community in last 6 years. He’s been with the Three Amigos. A private club with their major intent on how much money they can make for themselves. Kruger has clogged up Albany long enough. It’s time for a Change.

  • “Are bridge tolls popular in this district? No,” he said. “But more popular than cutting student MetroCards.”

    Well he’s got my vote. If only for being a political realist. Now if only JSK would publicly support Sam Schwartz’s Plan, then we might actually see congestion pricing happen.

  • vnm

    I can’t vote for Oberman because I’m not in the district, but I did just get a very satisfied feeling by donating to the campaign.

  • Do the roads have the farebox recovery ratio that the NYC subway has? I doubt it.

    The bridges themselves do – the B&T authority is profitable. But all the roads feeding into them pay nothing. Nationwide, the roads are more unprofitable per dollar spent than the New York City Subway. In New York, it may be true, too, but the only non-national numbers I have are from Texas.

  • Boris

    I never realized Kruger “represents” what’s probably the largest Russian-speaking community in America. What an embarrassment. Oberman just has to win.

  • I agree Boris, but Igor can’t win without our help, I’m volunteering to carry a petition to get him on the ballot and I’ve donated to the campaign.

    If you’re registered to vote ANYWHERE in New York State, and enrolled in the Democratic Party, you can carry a petition to put Igor on the Ballot.

    Once Igor’s on the ballot, Kruger’s going to hire a team of the highest paid lawyers $2.2 million in real estate funds can buy and sue to get him off the ballot. We need your help to keep Igor on the ballot.

    Please volunteer to carry a petition, and contribute to Igor’s campaign, every little bit helps, at:

    In Russian at:

    Thank you!

  • Bolwerk

    Nationwide, the roads are more unprofitable per dollar spent than the New York City Subway. In New York, it may be true, too, but the only non-national numbers I have are from Texas.

    I tried looking into this once. Obviously, cars in NYC don’t pay for use of the streets. If you want, you can make the argument that the fines brought in make the streets “profitable,” but that doesn’t really account for all the waste stemming from congestion, including slower buses.

  • Traffic violation fines aren’t user fees any more than fare-beating fines. The purpose of the fine is to deter unsafe or illegal behavior, not to fund roads.

    The analyses I referred to in the previous comment exclude externalities. The Texas DOT study that says no Texas road comes close to paying for itself only includes road construction and maintenance on the expense side. Social problems like congestion or pollution are entirely excluded.

  • TV4 Shareholder

    Igor Oberman is the Board President of Trump Village Sec.4. He constantly violates the Co-Op rules, and spread out the atmosphere of dictatorship and panic. We do not know how to get rid of him, and collected 300 signatures of Shareholders to remove him. But he does not recognize democracy, and ignores demands of Shareholders. He discriminated a veteran of war living in our building, and HUD complaint was filled against Mr. Oberman.
    People, he is a horrible person, and even does not how to write correctly. He does not work, and was fired by Mr. Markowitz.
    Do not support him! He is a dictator!

  • Iceman

    If people only knew how corrupt and scary Mr. Oberman is, they would never vote for him.  People like him should not be allowed to not only run for office, but to hold any position at all.  Watch out for him.  


Will the Fare Hike Four Face Pro-Transit Primary Challengers?

Last week we profiled Igor Oberman, the challenger gunning to unseat State Senator Carl Kruger this September who’s made support for transit, including bridge tolls, a centerpiece of his campaign. So, what’s going on with the other three members of the Fare Hike Four — Pedro Espada, Rubén Díaz Sr., and Hiram Monserrate. Their anti-transit […]

Today’s Headlines

Reid’s Paltry Energy Bill Includes Billions in Automotive Subsidies, Zero for Transit (TNR) Fare Hike 2011 (and 2013): MTA Will Lay Out the Whole Package Today (News, NYT, NY1) Cuomo and Lazio Tell NYC Suburbs the MTA Payroll Tax Is Fair Game (MTR) San Juan Mayor Unveils Ambitious Street Reclamation Plan (Planetizen) Appeals Court Judge: […]

The Fare Hike, the Service Cuts, and the Ballot Box

This afternoon the MTA officially unveiled the fare and toll increases it’s proposing to help close the agency’s remaining $400 million budget gap. The dailies had already reported many of the measures on the table, and it looks like the burden is going to fall mainly on New Yorkers who use subways and buses the […]

You Can’t Complain About Albany If You Don’t Vote Tomorrow

The primary election is Tuesday, with a number of State Senate and Assembly seats up for grabs. Meanwhile, upstart Democrat Zephyr Teachout is, at the very least, seriously getting on Andrew Cuomo’s nerves. Many races will be decided tomorrow. In some, incumbents are facing off against big name challengers. In others, political newcomers are vying […]

Senate Dems Denounce Bridge Tolls as Doomsday Draws Closer

Take it to the bank: 67 percent of households in Ruben Diaz, Sr.’s Bronx district are car-free. While the looming MTA doomsday scenario is desperate enough that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has put forward a proposal to charge drivers roughly the same as transit riders to cross East and Harlem River bridges, Democrats over in […]