With its prominent red awning and elegant lobby, The Kingsley, at 400 East 70th Street, is a typical example of the Upper East Side’s many luxury high-rise apartment buildings. However, it has one current feature the others do not: a doorman who will likely be the 76th Assembly District’s representative come January.
For five years, Lou Puliafito (R) has worked the Kingsley’s 11pm-7am shift. A perennial candidate who previously ran with the Reform Party, his odds to flip the assembly seat from three-term incumbent Rebecca Seawright (D-Upper East Side, Yorkville, Roosevelt Island) skyrocketed after improper election paperwork filing issues disqualified her from the ballot.
New York County Politics visited Puliafito during his shift to highlight what he does off of the campaign trail. Though he works late, Puliafito had much to share about being a doorman, noting that he “usually gets the happy people at this hour,” compared to the building’s other patrons, which he said is quite diverse.
“You have families here, you have the older, and you have the younger people who are working and sharing rent just like everywhere else in the city,” said Puliafito.
He added that working the night shift allows him greater daytime flexibility, reminiscing on his time as a student. “When you’re at night, you’re not so much in the hustle and bustle of the day, you have time to do studying, to do reading, to do whatever you like,” Puliafito shared. “Right now when I’m back here, I’ll do some research on things for my campaign.”
Still, the night shift offers challenges the day shift does not.
“We get people who are intoxicated, ladies who are afraid, and the homeless, who stay out in the park on the side here, and as long as they’re quiet, it’s not a big deal,” he explained. He continued with a humorous account of one such emergency, involving an apparently homeless man who asked him to call 911 for a medical emergency.
“When the ambulance came later, they knew him by name, and they go `Hey, what are you doing so far uptown tonight?’,” Puliafito recalled. “When they need a night somewhere or they’re not feeling well, they call 911, and then you have people trying to get in here at night that I have to persuade, and people look for fights. Especially during the summer, I could be standing here, and people see me as the guy that can’t go anywhere, and they know I really can’t touch them because I’ll get fired for that.”
He then discussed how the Kingsley’s staff and residents have responded to his campaign, saying that he has gotten a great deal of support. “They’re getting a kick out of it, and when they see me, they ask how they can help,” said Puliafito. “Some people donated, but everybody tells me what their point of view is, which to me is helpful, because I like to hear what other people have to say.”
Despite currently being the only major candidate on the ballot for the assembly seat, Puliafito has continued to maintain his humility.
“Everybody feels I’m the next assemblymember, but I don’t feel that,” he said. “I’ve got to wait till after all the votes are counted. Then I’ll relax a bit, but not until then, I can’t take this for granted.”