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Hakeem Jeffries endorses Crystal Hudson in Crown Heights council race

Jeffries
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.
File photo by Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech

Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on Tuesday threw his weight behind City Council candidate Crystal Hudson, who is running to represent the 35th district in central Brooklyn.

Jeffries, the fifth highest-ranking house Democrat in Washington, cited Hudson’s community activism while making his endorsement.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Crystal was there. When we came together to demand transformational police reform, Crystal was there,” Jeffries said May 4. “When public housing residents and those victimized by displacement needed a voice, Crystal was there.”

Hudson, a former deputy public advocate and staffer for incumbent Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, has garnered endorsements from both progressive groups and individuals like the New Kings Democrats, the Lambda Independent Democrats, and Councilmember Brad Lander, as well as powerful unions like District Council 37, the Hotel Trades Council, and 32BJ SEIU. 

Crystal Hudson.Crystal Hudson 2021

Jeffries is the most prominent and establishment-aligned politician to endorse Hudson yet.

Though there are more than half a dozen candidates for the seat, the race is largely seen as between Hudson and tenant organizer Michael Hollingsworth — and it’s split leftists in the district, with upstart groups like the Democratic Socialists of America and New York Communities for Change backing Hollingsworth.

Hudson, who interviewed for the DSA’s endorsement, did not receive it largely because of her past working with Cumbo at a time when the legislator was pushing through a controversial housing project in Crown Heights, according to a source familiar with the endorsement process.

The development project revolved around turning the historic, publicly-owned Bedford-Union Armory into a new community center with an adjoining residential development. But opponents criticized the proposal’s amount of affordable housing units, which some community members maintained was far too few.

After initially calling for 100 percent affordable housing, Cumbo had a change of heart, and helped carry the project through a contentious public review process while she ran for re-election in 2017.

Jeffries was outwardly critical of the DSA’s decision not to back Hudson, and in November retweeted a post calling out the socialist organization for endorsing a former staffer of ousted Bronx Rep. Joe Crowley, who was defeated by DSA-backed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but not Hudson.

“Seems that @nycDSA only requires Black women to answer for their former employers,” reads the post from Sasha Neha Ahuja, a campaign manager for Andrew Yang’s mayoral run. 

Others in the race have used Hudson’s ties to Cumbo as an attack line, with candidate Renee Collymore calling Hudson out for criticizing the Bedford-Armory deal despite working for the councilmember who championed it. Hudson has made clear efforts to distance herself from the project, even penning an opinion piece denouncing it as she began her campaign. 

In a statement, Jeffries said Hudson would have no problem fighting for what’s right.

“I strongly endorse Crystal Hudson for City Council because on day one she will fight for justice, stand up to powerful interests, and deliver real results for working families as we recover from the pandemic,” he said.

The 35th Council District spans several central and northern Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Crown Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

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