Stephen Levin staffer announces run for councilman’s seat

Elizabeth Adams
Councilman Stephen Levin’s legislative director Elizabeth Adams announced her run for her boss’s seat on Dec. 30.
Photo by Thomas Hill

Brooklyn Heights Councilman Stephen Levin’s chief legislative guru announced she’ll be running for her boss’s seat on Monday, marking her the lawmaker’s third staffer to declare their candidacy so far.

Elizabeth Adams, a 31-year-old Greenpoint resident, has worked under Levin as his legislative director for less than two years, but aims to take his seat when he’s term-limited out of the office he’s held since 2010, promising to serve voters as a rallying force when it comes to issues big and small. 

“I want to bring a bigger vision to local government,” Adams said. “I believe there’s more that we can do to show up for our communities and represent the interests of the 33rd District and the city overall.”

But the councilman’s legislative aide will have to overcome two of her fellow colleagues — Levin’s Deputy Chief of Staff Glomani Bravo-Lopez and his Participatory Budgeting Director Benjamin Solotaire — if she’s going to make history as the first woman to represent the 33rd Council District, which includes parts of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Navy Yard, Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, and Vinegar Hill.

Adams claims that her record of advocating for better healthcare, immigrant rights, and criminal justice will set her apart from the workplace competition. 

“I think people that know me know what I have fought for and where my values come from and know that I bring that strong record of advocacy into this role,” she said.

Meanwhile, Levin — who has prudently declined to endorse any of his underlings with two years remaining before his final term ends — insisted that the cutthroat world of New York City politics hasn’t infringed upon their ability to represent the district. 

“We’ve gotten a pretty good working environment over the years,” Levin said. “Everyone is so committed to doing their job. I see everybody committed to doing their job in the district with care and attention and the expertise that everyone has developed over the years.”

Adams named housing affordability one of her cornerstone issues,  along with promoting small businesses and environmental sustainability within the district. She also discussed expanding homeless and childcare services as important issues she’s tackled during her brief tenure under Levin.

Prior to signing up with Levin, Adams spent more than five years in public relations for Planned Parenthood, and previously served on Brian Cunningham’s failed campaign in 2017, when he unsuccessfully ran to unseat Flatbush Councilman Mathieu Eugene.

The 33rd Council District has experienced dramatic redevelopment during Levin’s decade in office, including the approval of the controversial 80 Flatbush mega-project and the effects of the 2004 Downtown Brooklyn and 2005 North Brooklyn Waterfront rezonings. Adams claimed the city sells its affordability subsidies too cheaply, and vowed to push for more deeply affordable housing for the district.

“130% [Area Median Income] is not what makes sense for many neighborhoods,” she said. “We need to look at low income and supportive housing and help people against eviction.”

The candidate may have difficulty courting drivers in the coming election, and Adams vowed to take a stand against “car culture” by expanding the city’s bike lane network and replicating Manhattan’s 14th Street busway in Downtown Brooklyn.

“Core to planning for our future is the need to have public transportation front and center,” she said. “We need to invest in infrastructure that’s needed for that… we need to shift away from car culture.”

Adams refused to endorse any of the numerous proposed strategies for rehabilitating the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which remains one of the most hotly anticipated issues facing Levin’s district.

In addition to her co-workers, Adams also faces Greenpoint activist and fellow Democratic Socialists of America member Victoria Cambranes, who announced her candidacy in August, the Brooklyn Eagle reported.