Steven who? Young Dem steps into Coney Island council race

Steven who? Young Dem steps into Coney Island council race
Photo by Derrick Watterson
Update (April 2, 2021): This article was written in 2019. Some of this information is now outdated. For more up-to-date information about Steven Patzer’s candidacy and policy positions, click here.  

Meet the ambitious, 22-year-old politico from Georgetown, Brooklyn who’s running for City Council — in Coney Island!

Young gun out-of-towner Steven Patzer wants Coney Islanders to know he’s their man for Council, proclaiming concrete solutions to the communities issues and boasting “10 years” leadership experience — starting at 12 years old!

“Steven’s early mission-based and community service work was as a… Cub Scout” said Reyna Gobel, a communications director of Patzer’s campaign. “By 16, he was raising money for causes. At 17, he started more intensive political work lobbying, canvassing, and involvement in larger community projects.”

A life-long resident of Georgetown, Brooklyn, Patzer moved to Gravesend in June to campaign for the seat that term-limited Coney Island Councilman Mark Treyger will vacate at the end of 2021, and the fresh-faced Democrat has been busy hosting a flurry of headline-grabbing public-service events, including beach clean-ups, job fairs, and backpack giveaways.

And while the legislator representing Patzer’s home district, Councilman Alan Maisel, is also due to step down in tandem with Treyger, Patzer believes he’s a better fit for the People’s Playground, claiming a keen understanding of local issues.

“I see two big issues in Coney Island and Gravesend, and that’s parking and resources for people in public housing,” Patzer said.

The fledgling Democrat described a platform that includes building numerous multi-story parking garages, hosting public events to improve the relationship between community members and law enforcement, and creating a volunteer program for residents to clean-up public housing.

He supports the construction of new bike lanes — as long as they don’t take away free public parking.

Patzer, who graduated from Baruch College with a bachelor’s in public affairs in 2018, boasts an impressive resume — for a young man. He currently serves as the president of the Canarsie-based Thomas Jefferson Young Democrats, he was formerly an employee at the New York branch of the Jewish human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center, and was appointed to Kingsborough College’s Board of Directors at 17.

He brands himself as an “educator,” who lectures on topics including financial literacy, anti-bullying, and anti-Semitism to K-12th grade and college students.

At 19 years old, Pazter authored a self-help book entitled “Six Figure Secrets,” in which he claims to hand readers “the keys to the Ferrari that has driven countless multimillionaires down the road of success,” and refers to himself as an entrepreneur specializing in “credibility,” among other things. He further claims more than four years experience “coaching creative money management,” and boasts that he is “widely known for his extensive… leadership experience,” in the title’s “About the Author” section.

Some locals are wary of the ambitious, would-be councilman, mistrusting his grandiose claims and doubting his fitness for public service.

“He suddenly appeared in the community,” said Coney Islander Orlando Mendez. “He’s taking advantage of the up-and-coming seat.”

Joe Packer, a lifelong Coney Island resident also running for Treyger’s seat, questioned Patzer’s decision to run in Coney Island — two districts away from his hometown.

“He’s a carpetbagger, that’s all I can say,” Packer said. “I would never try to go to another location when I know my community has needs.”

An anonymous Brooklyn political insider also called Patzer’s motives for running into question.

“It’s hard to take someone serious when they opened a campaign account in a district that they haven’t lived in and have no history of serving,” he said.

One acquaintance of Patzer’s — the former district leader of East New York — spoke highly of his work ethic while canvassing and petitioning for her campaign in 2016.

“He did a good job at canvassing,” said Nikki Lucas, who said Patzer got “good signatures” and worked hard on the job.

Patzer categorically denied accusations that his council run is motivated by self interest, saying the hard work he’s put in ahead of his upcoming campaign proves his heart is in the right place.

“I have no financial gain to be made from volunteering in the community for two years before the election,” Patzer said.

This story was updated to correct information about Steven Patzer’s previous role with the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He originally claimed to hold the title of Chief of Staff, but an employee later disputed that claim.

This story was updated on June 22, 2020 to correct information about Patzer’s canvassing and petitioning efforts with Nikki Lucas. The story originally said that Patzer worked with Lucas during her 2018 district leader campaign, but he actually worked with her during her 2016 campaign. 

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams