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C. Virginia Fields is the former Borough President of Manhattan, elected in 1997 and reelected in 2001. Her term expired in January 2006.
C. (Clara) Virginia Fields was born in Birmingham, Alabama circa 1946 and received her B.A. from Knoxville College in Tennessee and her Masters in Social Work from Indiana University. Fields is well known for her activism during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in which she participated in a number of protests and marches, thus beginning her foray into social and political advocacy.
In 1971, she moved to New York and became a social worker. During the late 1970s and 1980s she worked in a variety of administrative positions in the social services field, while also becoming involved in community politics.
In 1989, Fields was elected to the New York City Council. In 1997, Fields was elected Manhattan Borough President, replacing Ruth Messinger who ran for Mayor, unsuccessfully, against Rudy Giuliani. Fields received acclaim for her support of cultural organizations such as the New York Shakespeare Festival and the West Side Arts Coalition. She was in office during the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Some community groups throughout Manhattan, however, have a low opinion of Ms. Fields' record, stating that she will not listen to community concerns regarding the noisy nightclubs and her promotion of overdevelopment schemes. In 1999, Fields supported using eminent domain to take a family-owned manufacturing plant in Harlem to be replaced by a Costco store.
In 2005, Fields was a Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City. In early polls, she placed second to Fernando Ferrer. She suffered intense criticism for the perceived lack of any rationale for her campaign -- other than that she is term-limited out of her current position -- and for assembling stock photos in her campaign literature to create the impression of diversity in support. Fields never found traction and in the primary she finished third with 15.92% of the vote. Fields finished behind fomrer Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and Congressman Anthony Weiner. She finished ahead of City Council Speaker Gifford Miller.
In March 2006 it was reported that Fields will run for the State Senate seat, representing Harlem and parts of Upper Manhattan, being vacated by Senate Minority Leader David Paterson. Paterson is not seeking reelection to the Senate seat in order to run for lieutenant governor on a ticket with State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
On June 1, 2006, Fields announced that she was ending her Senate campaign. In announcing the end of her campaign, Fields said that 2006 was not the right time for her to run for the Senate.
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