If there ever was a heimishe Goliath, Assemblymember Dov Hikind fits the bill.
The 28-year State Assembly veteran representing Borough Park has been painted as such from supporters of David Greenfield (the so-called David in the biblical match-up), who is seeking to succeed Simcha Felder as City Council member from the 44th District representing Borough Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst.
Both Felder and Greenfield once worked as Hikind’s chief of staff, but that Hikind and Greenfield are at odds is hardly news to political pundits in the tight-knit Boro Park community.
Hikind, who has previously refused comment about the race, told this newspaper that he enthusiastically supports Greenfield’s opponent, Joe Lazar.
“He [Lazar] is a great guy. I’ve known him for over 30 years. He’s never been an elected official, but when you get a chance to listen to him and see what he’s done it’s amazing.”
Hikind pointed out Lazar’s public experience working for the City’s comptroller’s office and the city’s Department of Buildings before becoming regional director of the State’s Department of Mental Health (DMH).
“Going back a couple of years ago, for example, kids were at risk in the Jewish community and everyone pretended we didn’t have problems until we started losing people in the Orthodox community to overdoses on drugs,” said Hikind.
Hikind said like he did recently in speaking up against child abuse in the Orthodox community, he risked political suicide, and convened a commission with the help of former Gov. George Pataki to combat the drug abuse problem.
“At this meeting Joe Lazar was there and his (DMH) commissioner was there. It was a huge turning point in the Jewish community. As a result money started flowing in the community and Joe Lazar was the guy involved. He’s a low-key guy, but he gets things done,” said Hikind.
Hikind said Greenfield has the right to run like anyone, but then took several swipes at him.
“The fact is David came to work for me after Simcha (Felder) left and he lasted a few months. The rest I will not go into,” he said.
Hikind did question Greenfield’s success in building a coalition among yeshivas, the Sephardic community,Catholic and other religious schools.
The coalition resulted in a tax credit for parents whose kids attend these schools.
“It’s interesting that almost every single of these institutions will not support him. If someone is the savior of yeshivas, then people are going to ask why aren’t they going to support him,” said Hikind.
Greenfield responded that it’s unfortunate that Hikind is launching Joe Lazar’s campaign with a negative attack.
“I spoke to Joe the other day and we both committed to running a positive campaign and I intend to keep the commitment,” said Greenfield.
Greenfield called Hikind’s statement about the Teach NYS Coalition absurd.
“The fact is our coalition secured hundreds of millions of dollars for parents and schools. We have thesupport of parents and school leaders from every segment of this community,” said Greenfield.
“Dov’s statement is not only a revisionist view of the past, but a revisionist view of the future,” he added.