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The InTowner
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With the general election fast approaching and with the contested City Council seats along with the mayoral race all but decided in last month’s Democratic primary, there is yet one critical seat on the Council still in play. It is that which is reserved for a candidate not a member of the majority (Democratic) party.

The leading contender is an Independent — incumbent at-large member David Catania. Since he first joined the Council in 1997, as we wrote when we strongly endorsed him as a very effective member in his re-election bid four years ago, we praised him for his “dogged determination, aggressively looking out for the interests of all citizens, not just those who pay lots of taxes . . . but also for the less well-off and often ignored citizens who feel left out and abandoned, especially with regard to what should be basic ‘safety net’ services like health care. For those less fortunate, David Catania has been a champion truly striving to bring about better services where they matter.”

We have not changed our views one iota; he has remained true to everything positive we saw in him as far back as when we were the first newspaper to endorse him in that 1997 special election. David Catania has clearly and consistently stayed the course that we so admired back then and we continue to do so today.

Further, at that time four years ago we also wrote that “for both categories of citizens, the well-off and the not so well-off, it is Catania’s ‘junk yard dog’ approach to finding and eliminating fraud and waste and incompetence in government that has been such a positive contribution.” It is this characteristic, highly disciplined and thorough gathering of facts that has proved his worth as a council member and committee chairman time and time again in holding department and agency officials to high standards of not only competence but honest and transparent dealings as public servants.

In whatever committee chairmanship David Catania has held, he has pursued his responsibilities with great diligence and deep understanding of the importance of vigorous oversight. This is a crucial part of being an effective council member, and he has proven that he can dig as far as needed to bring to light all relevant facts and issues affecting public services and programs that are being financed by our hard-earned tax dollars.

But there is yet more that we admire about David Catania’s service on the Council. We are referring to his absolutely first-rate accomplishments as a legislator and as an expeditor with regard to bringing about major advances and improvements in the delivery of health care throughout the city. As chairman of the Committee on Health since 2005, he has devoted enormous energy to ensuring that those who need help the most are not left uncared for because they lack funds or the savvy to receive quality health services.

He has consistently understood that the city benefits hugely, both socially and economically, if our residents are able to obtain quality and timely health care –- crucial in this city with its myriad health issues, especially the rampant scourge of AIDS, that afflict so many of our citizens. We are indebted to David Catania for his deep understanding of the ramifications for all of our business and for us as individuals if the city does not continue to pursue the delivery of health services as a major priority.

To retain the dedication and service of a council member of the stature of David Catania is in our view undeniably a priority for the public good.