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In the 33rd District: Candidate Steve Levin shows up

The Brooklyn Paper

The story of Tuesday night’s debate for the 33rd Council seat wasn’t what was said — but who showed up.

After skipping three early candidates’ forums, Steve Levin took the stage in Williamsburg for his first debate to represent Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Park Slope.

Shrugging off rumors that he was running a “Rose Garden” strategy in an attempt to downplay his connections to his boss — the influential and, in some circles unpopular, county Democratic chairman, Assemblyman Vito Lopez — the 27-year-old candidate emphasized his experience as a community organizer in Bushwick, as well as his tenure as chief of staff for the powerful politician.

“I am very proud of the work that I have done in his office — especially on affordable housing,” said Levin, who last week told The Brooklyn Paper that he wasn’t ignoring the southern part of the district where Lopez has less sway.

That’s not to say that Levin — who recently landed endorsements from key labor unions and leads the six other candidates in cash on hand — didn’t try to distance himself from Lopez.

“There are times when I disagree with him,” said Levin. “I will be an independent voice on the City Council. I’m running as my own guy.”

And on the stage with his six rivals, Levin was his own guy on several issues.

Levin was the only candidate, for example, to support the current Broadway Triangle Rezoning plan, and he was the lone contender to acknowledge that the controversial rezoning Greenpoint and Williamsburg waterfront yielded any benefit to the communities.

“I applaud that affordability ratios were written into the zoning,” he told the crowd at debate, sponsored by the New Kings Democrats. Other candidates joined Levin in scorning the lack of open space created by the rezoning, but Levin was the only one who specifically cheered the measure for providing service workers better wages.

Few candidates threw jabs at Levin throughout the mostly civil debate, but South Williamsburg community activist Isaac Abraham landed one of his signature quips, riffing off candidate Doug Biviano’s call to give veto power to community boards on zoning issues.

“Doug, I want to correct you on one thing. A lot of us are concerned about ‘Vito’ power,” said Abraham.

Evan Thies, a North Brooklyn activist and former staffer of current Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights), didn’t openly claim he was the “anti-Vito” candidate — but he implied as much.

“We need to elect people who can bring positive change. There are still powerful forces at work, in Brooklyn. Citywide. Forces of inertia, forces of power that need to be restrained. We need to work against them,” said Thies, who used to debate to condemn the lack of parkland created following the rezoning.

Biviano, a passionate newcomer and self described “free thinker,” declared that the district needs a fearless councilman.

“We need a leader who is fearless — and I’ve sailed across an ocean on a 27-foot boat,” said Biviano, who declared that in the future the “city-state” will play a key role.

Another priceless exchange occurred when the candidates were asked to say one nice thing about the rival seated beside them. Ken Baer — who touted his experience as both an accountant and environmentalist — told Biviano that he was “handsome.”

“I’m glad Ken [Diamondstone] didn’t say that to me,” Biviano responded, referring awkwardly to his fellow council hopeful’s sexual orientation.

For his part, Diamondstone emphasized his experience fighting for gay rights and railing against the 2004 upzoning of Downtown Brooklyn that is turning the entire area into a new business and residential community.

Democratic District leader Jo Anne Simon — the only woman in the race — used the forum to calmly outline her years of experience as a neighborhood activist.

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Reader Feedback

Bob from Greenpoint says:
The yesterdays debate was very intrusting, especially Steven Levine he is a young guy he sounds like he still need a lot of training, after debate I had a nice talk with him
Unfortunately he doesn’t know a lot of major issues. I think he should go back and get some education and lots of home work first maybe a couple of years
From now he will be a better and stronger candidate…..
May 20, 2009, 12:22 pm
Steave from Boerum Hill says:
WOW... This Isaac Abraham sounds to be a strong and powerful candidate I like his ideas, since he is an activist for many years, he is still involved with everything like environmental, transportation, housing, health care, cleaning land fields, crime, Etc. he knows in and out how to salve problems, , I think he his the right person for the job,
May 20, 2009, 12:35 pm
Heidi Tango-Horsky from Greenpoint says:
Unfortunately I was unable to attend the debate,but I have met Mr. levin on a few occassions and found him to be extremely genuine in the depth of his concern for the Greenpoint neighborhood and its residents. I am a lifelong resident of Greenpoint and have worked in the community for years. I have lost one job to the rezoning and I am now facing the loss of my current position due to the over gentrification of both Greenpoint and Willamsburgh and not the economy. Mr. Levin understands the need to retain and create jobs in these communities and the desperate need of affordable housing. Affordable as in what the common worker can afford and not what those making huge salaries consider affordable.
May 20, 2009, 2:01 pm
Ben from Brooklyn says:
Heidi.. I feel your pain unfortunately Mr. Levine is just V. Lopez puppet doing messenger service only, his office has a very bad reputation especially in our 53 district
He just likes to be in the papers and involving a lot of issues creating problems and the last minute he just walks away,
The other hand he likes to take credit even he was not involved, so the answer is NO!! We don’t need anybody from his office again to represent us at city hall!
May 20, 2009, 5:22 pm
Keith from Greenpoint says:
you know what thay say.. 'Nice guy finish last..
That person was Mr. Isaac Abraham loud in clear!!! He is the person who is involved for his all life and serving his community with devolution and dignity..
We all say GO ISAAC GO!!!
May 20, 2009, 6:50 pm
Matt from Bushwick says:
Heidi, first of all it’s a shame you didn’t show up yesterday at the debate especially if you know him for a long time, let me tell you something there is no chance this Levine should make this race….
He is young with no experiences,we need some one with experiences and know how to handle this district, second of all he don’t have a family he will never understand the needs of the hard working people with families, he just have two little cats and just feed them cat-food only, that’s a big accomplishment…..
May 20, 2009, 9:48 pm
Bub from Park Slope says:
I though Steve Levin did very well last night. His responses were well thought out and I agreed with most of what he said. Of all the candidates, I think he had the best night.
May 20, 2009, 9:57 pm
Antony from Cobble Hill says:
Bub from park slope say he had the best night... According the records he didn’t even bother to show up the last 3 debates, you call this the best night? This guy doesn’t know Whats flying,
Just shaking with his head like a puppet that’s not very professional, look the other candidates are simply and educated and know better the history and know the answers quickly,
May 21, 2009, 1:45 am
Ken from Greenpoint says:
The best and funniest and the most powerful at the debate was Mr. Isaac Abraham. He is for the people a win win situation…
May 21, 2009, 2:04 am
Mattisyhao from Brooklyn Heights says:
after all I had a good time listing to all candidates. If you relies must of the candidates didn’t have the right and professional answer the only candidate was quick and short to the point is activist Mr. Isaac Abraham his experiences
Helping people and business owners from all race and fighting with the city official’s for the last 35 years. When Isaac Abraham said, “If I had to put it in one word why I’m running for Council is would be this: ‘I’ve been there and done that.’ This is the person we all need for office for the next years to come..
We all say GO ISAAC GO!!!…keep up the good work we all need you...
Report abuse
May 21, 2009, 2:09 am
Dav from Brooklyn says:
I think 'ken Baer' was pretty good, he just needs do order some Erin aids to listen,
May 21, 2009, 7:35 am
Mitch from Greenpoint says:
Dave.. i am surprise what you say if you ask me between Ken Bear and Levine I reader go for Levine, he is a yong person mabee the long run he will He will learn how to be a working person, “ken Bear” is just a old person he looks like he drinks a lots of beer…………..
May 21, 2009, 7:44 am
Leah from Cobble Hill says:
Why is everybody the people the press Etc. like this person Isaac Abraham? He sounds to know everything about politics in and out for the last 35 years…
May 21, 2009, 7:51 am
Bill from Park Slop says:
I will vote for anyone except for Yassky.

Down with Yassky.
May 21, 2009, 7:55 am
Matt from Broklyn Hights says:
i am just wondering if Isaac Abraham is a tough person? Its sound like he is. This will be a big help for us I hope we all will accomplish
May 21, 2009, 7:59 am
Brion from Bushwick says:
Guys let me tell you something I know veto Lopez and staff members for many years since he is my assemblymen at my district, its time he should step down
From politics, his office is a total joke just a bunch of trouble makers never ever trying to help the people, a bunch of losers just playing the game of politics,
And this Stephen Levin age 25 years he is just a young puppet in the office with no experience. So you do the calculation we need somebody with more experience
And be a leader and be recognized by the people of the district,
May 21, 2009, 8:02 am
Linda from Williamsburg says:
Bub from Parkk Slope.. I feel your pain let me tell you something in the polls as of today is Mr. Isaac Abraham # 1
So you still have a chance and go with the winners,,
May 21, 2009, 12:39 pm
Buddy 11210 from DUMBO says:
Common guys, Joanne "calm"? She doesn't have an opinion, that is why she is so "calm". "Activist"? What has she activated? She says she is against housing inside Brooklyn Bridge Park but what has she done to get rid of it in the four years since housing was put in the park? Nothing! She says she is studying the Super Fund for Gowannus? Study one of the most polluted waterways on earth? There is 100 years of pollution and for decades this has been studied to death (literally)! We need someone who will act. Joanne ain't it.
May 21, 2009, 1:46 pm
Sue from Boreum Hill says:
Right on! Simon is clueless and has no principles. Let's go with anyone who does - Baer, Diamondstone, even Abraham (tho he has no real ideas).
May 21, 2009, 1:52 pm
Steavin from Bushwick says:
Who said that Mr. Diamondstone Isn’t Gay?
May 21, 2009, 2:03 pm
Rodger from Greenpoint says:
If you need somebody with experience the perfect person for office will be Isaac Abraham, he knows politics for a long time he fights what is right for the people,
He was involved at the Mayor cotch administration, mayor dinkies, and Mayor R. Juliana, and all elected officials, so the answer will be activist “Isaac Abraham “…
May 21, 2009, 3:03 pm
Dave from Williamsburg says:
Who's copying & pasting pro-Abrahams comments here? Saying he's the best and number 1 in the polls doesn't make it so: he's never won a race, he's near the bottom in fundraising, and he's not even in the top 3 in informal polling for the 33rd district race.

Besides being well-known among insiders for leaking info to the press and political consultants (he's got contacts all over city gov't), he's also the only candidate who openly–some say brazenly–opposes same-sex civil rights, alienating a huge portion of the demographic in the 33rd district.

Simon's been at the forefront of disability rights and civil rights for over 30 years (have doubts? watch her testimony on YouTube to the Senate). She's butted heads with Lopez and other party bosses to route out corruption in the party and local gov't, she's running not as a career politician but as an active and concerned citizen, and once in the Council she won't be like the other 6 candidates who'll grandstand, pass meaningless resolutions, and basically reinforce the public view that the Council is irrelevant. She knows there's a job to do and she's going to do it.
May 21, 2009, 3:22 pm
ken from williamsburg says:
Dave. I feel your pain unfortunately between all candidates Isaac Abraham was never running in a race for office; fundraising is not an issue it’s not about
Razing money it’s the way you know how to spend, besides the people and the press like him very munch and likes how he come up with ideas and solutions
And salving problems, Simon was the front runner till this week she have experiences for the last couple of years, after this debate she didn’t make a very good impression at all, many question she simple answer she will do more home-work that’s not a good answer!!, she is good to be a grand mom doing housekeeping
And taking care of alder people like being volunteer feed sick people in hospitals and old age homes etc. she has a very good hart and simply have fillings for other people, she is not a fighter we need somebody with men-power like Isaac Abraham and the rest of the candidates, insiders telling Isaac Abraham is the right and front runner, if somebody is being ignored by the city he will fight for him/she that’s what he is doing for the last 35 years, knocking on doors and make sure
That voices not being ignored, so do some home-work and proof your self the answer will be candidate “Isaac Abraham.....
May 21, 2009, 4:39 pm
Dave from Williamsburg says:
Ken,
Nobody's heard of Abraham outside of Hasidic Williamsburg. Nobody. Once the campaign literature starts flying into homes in the district, his conservative credentials will stand in stark contrast to the other 6 candidates putting him at a huge disadvantage. Greenpoint won't vote for him, Brooklyn Heights won't vote for him, and neither will Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, or North Park Slope. It's just a dead end.

Simon, again, is not a shrinking violet because she's a woman. Your insinuation that we need a man in the job is the kind of misogyny and chauvinism that progressive Democrats reject, and it's sad and disappointing to hear that as a reason to discount Simon. Unlike everyone else on the dais, including Abraham, she knows each neighborhood exceedingly well, is whip-smart, and knows that complaining about problems (something Abraham does over and over) doesn't accomplish any solutions unless you roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

Insiders talk to Abraham because he's under the radar; none of them want to see him in a political position, and frankly the powers that be will likely not even let that be a chance. His continuing influence in local politics will continue, there's no doubting that, but it won't be in an official capacity. His constituency is simply too small.
May 22, 2009, 12:24 am
Tom from Bushwick says:
Dave. It sounds like you just trying to come in to politics that’s ok, you are still young probably willing to learn and trying to be educated, and I will give you an example why

Isaac Abraham is the perfect candidate. people know him for the last 35 years being an activist serving the people from all races an colors never take no for an answer, he is in the papers almost every week

Involving lots of issues and salving problems. People and elected officials knowing Mr. Isaac Abraham all over the place including the metropolitan area, he is traveling many times to Albany, Washington DC.on his own expense,

May 22, 2009, 11:55 am
Tom from Bushwick says:
the other hands the rest of the candidates are just people with some really problems like Ken Dimondstone is Gay … Jo Anne Simon: Does she support a man who is anti-gay and anti-choice? Lesbian only… Evan Thies: just a good talker, Worked for Yassky, yet has not won his endorsement! That’s a big shame…..Doug Biviano: is still in dreamland with no experiences at all…

Stave Levine don’t even know Whats flying he is 27 years old with no experience, on stage the other day he just shaken and being happy trying to get the full attention unfortunately this guy is a looser as long he works for his buss Vito Lopez he will be just a sick puppet and trying to do his job, the people here in buswick don’t like him at all so lets don’t talk about him,

And Ken Baer: he his to old for the job,must of the time he sleeps and he is a heavy beer drinker ….. So the must powerful person with experience to be the next city councilmen at 33rd district is activist “Isaac Abraham” he will show and proof the people at city hall how the city should run for many years to come…..
May 22, 2009, 11:56 am
Nick from Borim Hill says:
WOW. this guy Isaac Abraham sound to be a real activist with power, you got my vote….
May 22, 2009, 1:13 pm
Ed from Boerum Hill says:
All anybody has to do to sink Isaac Abraham's campaign is to let his supporter(s) keep posting ignorant, misspelled, homophobic, misogynist crap. If this is the quality and character of his base, I want nothing to do with this guy.

Anybody but Abraham.
May 27, 2009, 9:50 am
Jim from Bushwick says:
"vito power" is the right words,Latino people in our community don’t like him Mr.Vito lopaz at all!!! So let stay away from this guy he likes to control everybody…..
June 25, 2009, 3:05 pm

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