By Howard Koplowitz
The spirit of late City Councilman Tom White filled Baisley Pond Park Saturday during Banner Day — an event he had sponsored for the community featuring bouncy castles, food, music and information tables promoting various civic organizations from the neighborhood.
A banner with White’s face and name hung on the back of a stage where musical acts performed everything from R&B to hip-hop to jazz.
“Just to see his picture right now, you see what he’s done in the neighborhood,” said Les Paultre, father of Nicole Paultre-Bell, a candidate to replace White on the Council.
Paultre recalled how White was the first elected official to visit his home the night Paultre-Bell’s fiancee, Sean Bell, was killed in a hail of 50 police bullets.
“He said, ‘I’m there for you guys,’” Paultre said. “Tom was right there from day one.”
The officers were found not guilty of Bell’s death by a judge.
Paultre attended the event with Bell’s mother, Valerie Bell, where they stood behind a table promoting the Sean Bell Little League.
White “always supported the Sean Bell Little League,” Paultre said. “He always encouraged us to keep going and making sure our organization participated in the neighborhood.”
Paultre said his daughter, who lives in Far Rockaway, is in the process of moving into White’s district so she can be on the November ballot in the special election to replace White.
Paultre said White had been a mentor to his daughter.
“He’d be excited for her” candidacy, he said, describing Paultre-Bell as “someone who’s fresh and has conviction and purpose and will finish what [White] started.”
Aside from his 11 years on the Council, White is also known for starting the nonprofit J-CAP, which helps drug addicts get their life back on track.
Maxine Edwards, a Bronx resident who is currently in the J-CAP program, said she remembered White as a caring person.
“He looked out for everybody, looked out for people doing drugs,” she said. “This is his borough. People in the community, they look up to him.”
Jamaica resident Naomi Laughton said White took an interest in constituents who had problems holding on to their homes.
“He was very supportive of the people that was having trouble with their mortgage and entering foreclosure,” she said. “He actually had [staff] to help them.”
Jamaica resident Joyce Spruill said White was dedicated to his district.
“He’d give a plan and he’d follow through,” she said. “He was also interested in young people and putting them on the right track. He will be missed and he won’t be forgotten.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.