By Phil Corso
A former candidate for the state Senate has re-emerged in the political arena, but this time he is vying for a spot in the City Council.
Retired NYPD Capt. Joseph Concannon started circulating petitions this week to challenge Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) on the Reform Party line and said he was drawing much of his inspiration to run on the issue of stop-and-frisk.
The councilman voted in favor of a package of NYPD reform bills in June that would create an inspector general under the city Department of Investigation to oversee the Police Department and amend the city’s current profiling law to create a means for potential profiling victims to sue the department.
The Community Safety Act passed the City Council June 26, but ran into opposition late last month when Mayor Michael Bloomberg made good on his promise to veto the measure. The Council has until Aug. 22 to vote on overturning the mayoral veto, but could possibly hold a special meeting before then.
“Shame on Mark Weprin. He should clearly understand that the economic vitality of New York City depends on solid crime control strategies,” Concannon said. “This Police Department already has more oversight than I could name to you. There is no need to waste millions in setting up a police monitor.”
Bloomberg immediately vetoed both Council bills after their passage and also pledged to use his political influences against lawmakers who voted in their favor. Weeks later, Concannon arose as Weprin’s lone challenger for his Council seat to which he was elected in 2009.
Concannon ran as a Republican and lost in a bid to unseat Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) last year and has since been working on his own private security firm, but said Weprin’s actions on stop-and-frisk propelled him back into the political sphere.
“This could take us back 25 years to a point in time where the murder rate was at 2,200 people per year,” Concannon said.
He has until Aug. 20 to collect 400 signatures, but the former police officer of 25 years said he was aiming for well above that number by drawing largely from his law enforcement background.
“I went back to the people in law enforcement and said, ‘Look, if you can guarantee me that I will get your support and backing, vocally and every other way, then you’ve got a candidate,’” Concannon said. “I’m not going to let my friends down.”
The retired cop was scheduled to take to the steps of City Hall this Thursday to outline his plan and call out his opponent on the hot-button issue, on which Weprin defended his position in a July letter to TimesLedger Newspapers.
“I have enormous respect for the work of the NYPD, and I would never vote for a law that would put New Yorkers in harm’s way or allow crime levels to increase,” Weprin said in the letter. “I supported these bills because I believe they will make our city safer for all residents.”
Concannon modeled his 2012 Senate campaign largely after former Republican Sen. Frank Padavan, focusing on lowering taxes and putting to use his experience in the police force as well as the administration of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.