Jonathan Judge makes inroads in 44th District City Council race

While Republican candidate Jonathan Judge continues efforts to be inclusive of the entire 44th City Council District, his two main challengers continue to court the major religious Jewish voting bloc.

The district includes Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Midwood and a small part of Kensington. The special election to replace Simcha Felder is slated for March 23.

“For this campaign, everything has been grassroots and working together with a very diverse community — and if successful, it will bring together a 21st century version of the district,” said Judge.

Judge, who was born and raised in Kensington, said this includes working in equal measures with the Italian, Russian, Asian, Pakistani and Jewish communities in the district.

“Not all the communities have been represented as much as some, and we’re working to make sure everyone is represented in the same way,” said Judge.

Judge has long been active in the community, starting at 17 when he began volunteering for Community Board 14, where he interned throughout college and now works as part of the board’s staff.

He also served for two years as the 70th Precinct Community Council’s recording secretary, where he created the 70th Precinct Community Council blog (http://70pctcc.blogspot.com), which keeps residents informed of all the latest information about the council and public safety in the community.

As Judge pounds the pavement in his attempts to forge a diverse coalition, his two main opponents, Joe Lazar and David Greenfield, continue to spend much of their time lining up endorsements and courting the Orthodox Jewish community.

Both recently made campaign trips far outside their district to Williamsburg.

Large numbers of Satmar Hasidic Jews have lived in both Williamsburg and Borough Park for decades as residents have moved from smaller quarters in Williamsburg to larger properties in Borough Park and vice versa.

Hasidic-owned businesses have branches in both neighborhoods, and a private bus line featuring direct service from Lee Avenue to 13th Avenue runs twice an hour.

“We are one community,” said Williamsburg resident Moishe Indig. “The Satmar community is in Williamsburg, Borough Park. It’s one big family.”

Both Greenfield and Lazar made the Williamsburg journey looking to win Satmar Rebbe Aaron Teitelbaum’s blessing and shore up support from members of the sprawling Satmar sect, the third largest in Borough Park.

Greenfield attended a post-marriage ceremony, known as the seven blessings ceremony, with over 1,500 guests, that was held for Teitelbaum’s granddaughter.

Lazar appeared at a smaller fundraising dinner for a Satmar college, known as a kollel, which Rebbe Teitelbaum attended.

Sources that fear upsetting either the Greenfield or Lazar camp say both are playing strong-arm politics in the tight-knit religious Jewish neighborhoods.

The Borough Park Satmar community was promised if they support Greenfield he will help repair the Williamsburg Satmar community’s relationship with Kings County Democratic boss Vito Lopez, because the Aaron Teitelbaum faction in Williamsburg has had a strained relationship with Lopez, said one source.

Greenfield also picked up the support of Mayor Bloomberg last week, but thus far is finding it hard to get people in Borough Park to openly support him.

This could be because Assemblymember Dov Hikind appears to be pulling out all the stops in getting the word out that whoever backs Greenfield will have no access to him or State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, said another source.

Bobov Hasidic Jews, of which there are a good many in Borough Park, are still being courted by both Lazar and Greenfield.

“It’s (the election) turning into a very nasty thing, but it’s nothing I didn’t expect,” said one highly placed Borough Park source.

-With Aaron Short