Democratic socialist organizer David Alexis has announced plans to mount a primary challenge for central Brooklyn State Sen. Kevin Parker, as the 2022 election cycle heats up with a number of left-leaning contenders expected.
Alexis — an East Flatbush resident, community organizer, member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and ride-share driver — says he felt motivated to run after years of organizing around health care and workers’ rights in eastern Brooklyn, issues the candidate said were matters of survival for him and his family.
“This is not something I came to as a hobby or something to do on the side,” Alexis said, “but was very much our way to deliver the things that I needed for my family to survive.”
Alexis got into heath care organizing half a decade ago, when he became involved with a healthy fathers group at Brookdale Hospital. Soon after, he worked with the city’s Department of Health to increase breastfeeding rates in central and eastern Brooklyn. He also worked with groups fighting Sickle Cell Disease, a disease his wife suffers from, and helped push for a bill to help those with Sickle Cell receive coverage to be introduced in the state legislature. After 2018, he became more and more involved with the Democratic Socialists of America.
Now, the activist says he sees organizing as a way of paying it forward to the movements that have helped him and his family when they were in need.
“If it wasn’t for the amazing people that I met along the way I don’t even know how we would have survived or kept my family together,” Alexis said. “I had to start paying it forward.”
Living in East Flatbush, organizing around health care issues, and driving for Uber and Lyft have all played a role in shaping the candidate’s policy priorities, which include passing laws like the New York Health Act, legislation to aid gig workers, and climate legislation.
The district Alexis hopes to represent — State Senate District 21, spanning East Flatbush, Flatbush, parts of Park Slope and Windsor Terrace — has been represented in Albany by Parker, a pol with a history of courting controversy, since 2003. But with a redistricting process underway, the district is expected to undergo changes that could either help the incumbent or harm him.
If the district evolves to include more of East Flatbush, where election maps have shown Parker to have a strong base, any challenger will have a hard time toppling the longtime public servant. But if the boundaries moves westward and into the left-leaning Park Slope area, it will be to the benefit of a leftist challenger such as Alexis.
Parker ran unsuccessfully for city comptroller in 2021 and recently introduced stalled legislation which would require members of the city’s Police Department to live in the Five Boroughs. The senator’s reelection campaign could not be reached for comment by press time.
The Democratic Socialists of America saw a great deal of success during the 2020 state legislature elections in New York, toppling a number of incumbent Democrats, but saw only two out of their six endorsed candidates win primaries in the 2021 City Council elections. The organization has not yet announced their endorsements for the 2022 cycle.
If elected, Alexis says he would use the seat to boost the political movements that have worked to enact change at the grassroots level throughout New York.
“The power that has been necessary to make the changes that we’ve had to see has always come democratically through movements, through organizing, through collective action,” he said. “My hope is that the state senate seat will allow me to be a more effective avatar, bringing more people involved to help people understand the importance of these policies, to help them realize their power — because what is power but organized people or money?”