Grimm clashes with new constituents

Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) said he’d take on his party’s leadership to ensure Brooklyn gets the disaster relief it needs following last weekend’s hurricane.
Community Newspaper Group / Dan MacLeod

Rep. Michael Grimm’s new Bensonhurst constituents aren’t welcoming him with open arms.

More than 20 members of the Bensonhurst West End Community Council — a group that represents neighborhoods which fall into Grimm’s new, expanded district — slammed the Republican Bay Ridge legislator for his political views on Monday when he showed up to introduce himself.

Council members demanded to know how Grimm would fight for the interests of Bensonhurst, which they called a liberal-leaning neighborhood.

“How can you represent us, when the overwhelming majority of us here are Democrats and you are a Tea Party Republican?” asked one woman, who wished not to be identified.

Grimm was about to answer, but the woman pelted him with more questions, until he interrupted her.

“You asked me a question, let me answer it,” Grimm snapped. “I’ve earned that respect.”

Grimm admitted that his core beliefs were the same as the Tea Party, but said he was first and foremost a champion of New York City’s needs.

“I am fair and I am pragmatic, and I will fight for what’s good for the community,” Grimm said.

Grimm’s cross-harbor district was limited to Staten Island, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and a small amount of Bensonhurst until March, when senate Republicans expanded his domain to include most of Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and portions of Gravesend and Sheepshead Bay.

Yet Bensonhurst may not be as liberal as some at the meeting may think: in 2008 Sen. John McCain won Bensonhurst over President Barack Obama, according to the city’s Board of Elections.

The Marine and former FBI agent said he showed up at the Bensonhurst West End Community Council to show that he was not a Staten Island legislator.

“You will have a Brooklyn congressman, not just a Staten Island congressman,” Grimm said. “Just because I live in Staten Island doesn’t mean I won’t represent your needs,”

But some meeting attendees remained suspicious.

“Most of the people here are Democrats,” said resident Harriet Goldstein. “Because of the Tea Party and because he’s from Staten Island, which is more conservative, he can’t relate to us.”

But there were a few willing to give him a chance to prove himself.

“He speaks well, and I’ve heard good things about him from people who live in Staten Island,” said Maria Messina-Walsh. “I don’t care what he is or where he’s from, as long as he keeps his promises.”

More from Around New York