Councilman Charles Barron made it official this week: he’s not running for Congress next year because he wants some real power — he wants to be (drumroll) Borough President!
“We looked at the 2008 Congressional race [against reportedly retiring Rep. Ed Towns] and thought we could win it,” Barron told The Brooklyn Paper before throwing his Nehru jacket in the ring for the top borough job at a press conference on Sunday at City Hall.
“But being in Congress would take me out of the city four days a week and put me in Washington as one of 435 legislators with little or no influence.
“It would take me years to get something for the neighborhood,” added Barron, the Canarsie Democrat who notched 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race for Towns’s seat last year, despite raising only $109,000. “In Congress, I’d be a national voice, of course, but I wouldn’t be able to help the people of our borough.”
But as borough president! The possibilities are endless, apparently.
“I can have eight years as the first black borough president, administering a capital budget and an expense budget. And it’s a good jump-off point for the mayoral race in 2017.”
Yes, you heard it here first, Charles Barron is running for mayor in 10 years.
Not that he doesn’t have his priorities straight for his planned eight-year reign at Borough Hall.
“Am I gonna be a borough president for all the people? Absolutely,” he said at the press conference. “But I’m letting you all know now: I’m taking care of black folk.”
Such talk is certainly par for Barron’s course. Last month, he made headlines after his chief of staff targeted several black colleagues with “assassination” after they rejected a plan to rename part of Fulton Street for flame-throwing black activist Sonny Carson. The aide, Viola Plummer, said she was only referring to “political” assassination, but was fired by Council Speaker Christine Quinn anyway.
Barron said Quinn fired his top aide simply to “show the whites in town that she still controls this plantation and if any one of us speaks out, we will be punished.”
The kickoff announcement wasn’t all about race, of course. Barron, a staunch opponent of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development, also used Sunday’s press conference to attack the current officeholder, Borough President Markowitz, who strongly supports the project.
“We need to make to make sure that Brooklyn is not a borough for developers to come get rich and for working people to struggle every day,” he said. “We need a visionary leader in this office, not just a cheerleader.”
Although he’s the only declared candidate, Barron should expect a tough fight to succeed Markowitz, who is term-limited. Fellow Councilmen David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights), Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope) and Domenic Recchia (D– Sheepshead Bay) are names that frequently appear in the same sentence as “running for borough president.”
Recchia didn’t return calls, Yassky gave us a boilerplate comment about how he’ll “worry about the future when it comes,” and DeBlasio said the Beep job was “certainly interesting and I certainly want to continue in public office,” but didn’t go much further. DeBlasio has been holding fundraisers all over his district, but none has used the term “borough president.”
Another much-touted candidate, Councilman Simcha Felder (D–Borough Park) recently told The Brooklyn Paper that he’s opted out of the borough president race. No, he’s not scared of Barron. He just wants something, how you say, a bit more powerful.
He’s aiming for comptroller.