On Tuesday, Democratic voters in a wide swath of Brownstone Brooklyn will go to the polls to pick their choices in two key City Council races — a primary vote that is tantamount to election in heavily Democratic Brooklyn.
But too few voters will actually cast their ballot on Sept. 15 in the council districts in question — the 33rd, which includes Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights and part of Park Slope, and the 39th, which sprawls from Borough Park to Cobble Hill and includes most of Park Slope.
Given that low turnout, a few dozen votes will likely mean the difference in the seven-candidate race for the 33rd District and the five-man battle for the 39th. True, we always say that your vote makes a difference — but this time, it is actually true in a very real sense.
You — yes, you, the guy reading this on the F train — will pick your next councilmember.
But such empowerment is wasted on the disaffected. During this spirited campaign, we have been stunned to witness the public’s utter disengagement from the political process. Yes, there are bigger battles being fought in Washington and in Albany, but electing a city councilmember is no less vital to having a functioning democracy.
Not only do councilmembers actually have an important role in land-use decisions such as neighborhood upzonings that will forever change our communities’ character, but your councilmember is your neighborhood storefront, the place to address genuine quality-of-life issues. Albany and Washington aren’t taking your calls on such things.
Yet most people can’t be bothered. The other day, for example, we covered the efforts of two 39th District candidates to forestall the closing of an important subway entrance in Carroll Gardens. Both office-seekers tried to distribute information to straphangers about the impending closure — but the vast majority of commuters, who would be directly affected by the subway entrance shutdown, wouldn’t even take the handout. A tiny fraction even acknowledged the candidates’ presence, acting as if the would-be councilmembers were handing them a bag of excrement rather than an important piece of information about their community.
The good news is that there’s still time for you — yes, you, the woman reading this on her laptop at the Tea Lounge — to put an end to willful ignorance of the issues and the candidates. Last week, we made our endorsements for the Democratic nomination in both districts, tapping John Heyer in the 39th and Evan Thies in the 33rd. We urge registered party voters to choose those two.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. In this issue, we re-interviewed all the candidates and gave them one last chance to make their pitch directly to voters. If that isn’t enough, go to our new Web site, BoroPolitics.com, where stories about each race — not just from our paper, but from our sister publication, Courier Life, are conveniently archived.
And here’s another reminder: eat your vegetables. They’re also good for you.
©2009 Community News Group
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