Council Comeback: Bushwick activist Sandy Nurse relaunches campaign for 2021 election

Sandy Nurse
City Council candidate Sandy Nurse.
Brandon Harrison

After she failed to appear on the ballot for the June 23 primary, activist Sandy Nurse has declared her intention to again seek Bushwick’s Council seat next year — and this time, she’s taking aim at the Brooklyn Democratic Party, which she says went to extraordinary lengths to thwart her grassroots energy. 

“I am ready and prepared to take on the Brooklyn Democratic machine, and this time they will not be able to stop our grassroots movement for change,” Nurse said in a statement on July 23.

The seat opened up after then-Councilman Rafael Epsinal resigned in January, leading to a pair of off-year elections to temporarily fill the vacancy until the 2021 citywide elections. 

Nurse attempted to seek the Democratic nomination on June 23, which would have sent her to a general election in November, after which she would have taken office for a one-year term beginning in January — but her party-backed opponent Darma Diaz successfully challenged her petitioning requirements, knocking her and other contenders off the ballot entirely.  

Diaz won the primary unopposed, making her likely to fill the seat until the winner of next year’s election is crowned. 

Nurse reflected on her experience, saying that Democratic establishment politicos played hardball during the pandemic to get their preferred candidate elected.

“That experience exposed me to what gets thrown at you when you run against the powers at be for the power that should be,” she said. “I faced the Brooklyn Democratic machine that prioritized politics over public safety amidst a pandemic.”

Nurse previously slammed the party and the city’s Board of Elections for having in-person hearings to contest ballot petitions at the height of the pandemic. 

Now the aspiring lawmaker has turned to the June 2021 primary elections with a campaign kickoff video showing her delivering food packages around the neighborhood from Mayday Space — the local community venue she co-founded.

The promotional clip focussed on addressing issues like the COVID-19 crisis, educating children, fighting police brutality, protecting tenants from eviction, supporting essential workers, and helping those excluded from government protections like undocumented immigrants.

Progressive activist Kim Council, who had also been denied access to last month’s primary ballot due to petition challenges, confirmed that she will also be running for the seat again next year. 

Other candidates from last time around have also returned to the race for 2021, including Misba Abdin and Rick Echevarría, according to filings with the city’s Campaign Finance Board.

Their announcements come on the heels of a slew of leftist and outsider candidates winning primary elections for various state legislative posts around Brooklyn — many of whom ousted longtime incumbents or party-backed opponents in state races.

Nurse took to social media to remark on the winning candidates — particularly women — who have successfully overcome establishment hurdles, and expressed hope that the trend could continue. 

“The takeaway from all these primaries that we need to keep with us for next June: invest in women’s political leadership,” she tweeted on July 22. “Give your time. Lend your expertise. Show up and do some work.”