Inside a friend's office on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Zein Rimawi, a Palestinian-American store owner, said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's bid to change the term limits law struck him as fundamentally unfair.
"He supported it, and now he himself he wants to change it. God bless America," Mr. Rimawi said. "I have been living here for 25 years, and I see the United States becoming like a country from the Middle East. Your freedom is taken little by little, justice is taken little by little, the middle class disappeared, and money is playing a very big role to determine who your representative is."
Outside, Mr. Rimawi proudly pointed out the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 65th and 75th Streets, full of Arab-owned businesses: jewelers and law offices, supermarkets and dessert shops. And like members of Brooklyn's other ethnic groups, like the Italians, the Greeks and the Jews, he gave credit to his people for restoring the neighborhood and keeping real estate prices high while driving the crime rate down.
But he said it felt as if there was a great distance between Bay Ridge's Arab and Muslim community and the government run by Mr. Bloomberg. Arabs, among one of the fastest-growing groups in Bay Ridge's multiethnic mix, felt ignored, he said.
"He has never been to one of our events. He never sent anyone to represent him," Mr. Rimawi, who is on the board of the Arab Muslim American Federation and one of the founders of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, said of the mayor. "Even Giuliani used to send someone."
Not everyone feels neglected. John Abi-Habib, a Lebanese-American who is active in the local Republican Party, said Mr. Bloomberg had named a week in July Arab-American Heritage Week; hosted community members at an annual breakfast; and supported the creation of a public school that teaches Arabic, the Khalil Gibran International Academy. "Having him for another four years is an excellent idea," Mr. Abi-Habib said.
But for Mr. Rimawi, a controversy that accompanied the opening of the school only deepened mistrust of the mayor's administration. He said that Mr. Bloomberg had not supported the school's founding principal, Debbie Almontaser, who was criticized in an article in The New York Post for downplaying the word "intifada" on a T-shirt and then attacked by opponents who accused her of being a radical Muslim. Before the school opened in September 2007, Ms. Almontaser, who has a reputation for promoting interfaith dialogue, stepped down and said the mayor's office had forced her out.
Even if they have had trouble reaching the mayor, Mr. Rimawi said the community had forged strong relationships with the 68th Precinct, as well as with the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz.
"We are New Yorkers," Mr. Rimawi said. And Mr. Bloomberg, he said, "has to take care of us as he takes care of others."
Feelings about Mr. Bloomberg — and about the idea that he would seek four more years of responsibility for taking care of the city — varied widely in Bay Ridge. But those interviewed, perhaps not surprisingly, also had narrower concerns or praise, brought home from work or encountered on the street.
John Magrone, 62, owns John's Place, a hair salon on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge.
"I have mixed feelings about it. He should have done it way before. Now it's happening next year, and I don't know how his opponents are going to feel. My wife works in the school district, and I don't think they like it. I'm 50-50. If Weiner were his opponent, I might give it to him. But I have to say, Bloomberg's done very good. He doesn't take a salary. He's made the streets safer. The parks, the bicycle lanes — he's done a pretty good job. ... But I think it's time for a change. Two times is enough."
Eva Irizarry, 30, a fourth-grade teacher at a public school in Bushwick, recently bought a house in Bay Ridge. She will be a first-time voter in November.
"I wasn't a fan in the beginning, but he's done a lot of good things for the city. ... I started in the Teaching Fellows program. My school has improved immensely. I love that he's given the authority to the principal to run the school as he sees fit. Every school is different. I love that there's no smoking in bars. Most of his initiatives are good reforms that have made the city fairer and safer. He doesn't have the affiliations other mayors have. I love that he's an independent. From a very selfish perspective, I don't like congestion pricing. ... I'm fine with another term."
Gail Richardson, 52, has been the administrative director in a Bay Ridge medical practice since July.
"I think he should go to the City Council... He could be the speaker. I don't want to see another Koch. He almost becomes too imperialistic. My house, my rules. He should stay in politics, but do something else... As society changes, the need for leadership changes. He should have been president. He might have been our first Jewish president."