Council race in 44th District tightens

A slew of endorsements over the weekend bolstered Joe Lazar’s candidacy to succeed Simcha Felder in the upcoming race for the 44th City Council District seat.

But the emergence of another candidate from Borough Park and Lazar’s reluctance to debate his co-frontrunner David Greenfield continue to turn the special election slated for March 23 into a dogfight.

The district includes Borough Park and parts of Midwood and Bensonhurst.

Among the endorsements Lazar picked up over the weekend include neighboring 39th District City Councilmember Brad Lander and his former opponent, John Heyer.

In last year’s fiercely contested Democratic Primary in the 39th City Council District, Lander and Heyer battled for the small portion of the district which includes Borough Park.

Though Lander won the Council race, Heyer, a conservative Democrat, did exceptionally well in Borough Park, winning the neighborhood 1,245 to 219, or roughly by a count of 6-1.

Lazar also picked up endorsements from Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Rep. Edolphus Towns, State Senator Diane Savino, Assemblymembers Dov Hikind, Peter Abbate, Felix Ortiz, Steven Cymbrowitz and Jim Brennan, State Senator Kevin Parker, and Councilmember Matthieu Eugene.

Lazar said he is humbled by both Lander and Heyer coming out for him, which embraces his campaign slogan that “A Community When United Will Thrive.”

Lazar also took a swipe at Greenfield when he was asked if he would agree to a debate with him.

“I believe in debating people who have a record to debate,” said Lazar. “I don’t believe he (Greenfield) has a record to debate.”

Greenfield, who has received endorsements from former Mayor Ed Koch and other local elected officials, responded that it’s unfortunate that Lazar needs to run a negative campaign.

“I’m not sure why he’s afraid of a debate. I would challenge him to debate every week for the next six weeks so voters can hear directly from him what Joe Lazar plans on doing as a city councilman,” said Greenfield.

While both Lazar and Greenfield have received a good share of endorsements, both could be challenged by longtime Borough Park Attorney Nochman Caller, 62, who also decided to run.

“I’m more qualified (than the other candidates), said Caller. “I’m a Columbia Law School graduate with a lot of experience in law and practical business. We don’t need politicians. We need someone who can get things done.”

Ezra Friedlander, president and CEO of the Friedlander Group government and public relations firm based in Borough Park, said Lazar and Greenfield are both hoping the endorsements will translate into votes.

“Caller could be spoiler. In a three-man race, anything can happen,” said Friedlander. “He (Caller) is still relatively unknown. You could make an argument it (Caller’s running) could hurt or help either candidate.”

Also running in the open election is Republican Jonathan Judge.