A five-for-all to replace DeBlasio

The Brooklyn Paper
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Whoever takes over for Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Cobble Hill) will have some big shoes to fill — literally. The NBA-sized DeBlasio is term-limited out, but already five candidates have stepped up to represent the 39th Council district.

Of the five Democratic candidates — Craig Hammerman, Brad Lander, Gary Reilly, Josh Skaller and Bob Zuckerman — running in a district that covers parts of Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, everyone but Reilly makes his home in Park Slope. (No Republican has declared yet.)

Right now, they’re talking about the same thing. All five candidates told The Brooklyn Paper about the need for affordable housing and a way to decelerate the development that’s been sweeping across the district.

• Hammerman’s mantra is “affordabil­ity, sustainability and livability,” meaning cheaper housing, embracing green technology, and preserving the neighborho­ods’ personalities.

While he’s the only one who’s run for office before, losing to DeBlaiso in 2001, his last-place finish taught him some valuable lessons, such as, “I love her dearly, but my mother will not be my campaign manager this time.”

• Though he’s a campaign newbie, Zuckerman has been in government as a staffer for a New Jersey state senator (is that a plus or a minus?). Now he’s running to reform government. One idea is to reclassify the job of a councilmember as a full-time gig to prevent the honorable officials from earning outside income on top of their $110,000 city salaries.

“If you are elected to serve, you need to be a full-time representa­tive,” he said.

• Lander, who has spent the last 10 years at the Fifth Avenue Committee and, now, at the Pratt Center for Community Development, would make urban planning and affordable housing his focus.

“People will be drawn to me because I’m both a fighter for the neighborhood, as well as someone who brings resources to our neighborho­ods,” he said.

• Skaller has an unconventional resume for someone seeking elected office. Right now, he’s an IT director, and before that, he was a musical composer at Harvard University.

He says his priority would be education, where he objects to “the high-stakes testing kids are being subjected to,” and would seek to improve “the quality of middle schools and high schools,” he said.

• Like his opponents, Reilly, the Carroll Gardens entrant, wants to slow the unfettered development, but his pet project is increasing mass transit.

Last year, he started a grassroots petition for express service on the F-train.

Brad Lander

Age: 38
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Employment: Director of Pratt Center for Community Development.
Bio: Headed the Fifth Avenue Committee from 1993–2003, member of Community Board 6.
Quote: “I’ve got a history of working on city planning and affordable housing around the city.”
Pluses: He’s got a good head start on fundraising, with more than double anyone else’s receipts.
Minuses: As an advocate, he might be uncomfortable as a legislator.
Money Raised: $63,015

Josh Skaller

Age: 39
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Employment: Director of information technology and systems at Globalworks.
Bio: Field director of Democracy for New York City and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats.
Quote: “Our campaign is completely unbeholden to special interests, [unlike] the way so many other campaigns are across Brooklyn right now.”
Pluses: As head of CBID, he should have some supporters with political know-how.
Minuses: Not too many IT directors get elected to public office.
Money Raised: $30,234

Craig Hammerman

Age: 42
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Employment: District manager of Community Board 6.
Bio: Park Slope Civic Council trustee, chairman of the Prospect Park Track Club.
Quote: “I’m a third generation Brooklynite, so Brooklyn’s streets are coursing through my veins.”
Pluses: Has campaign experience from his 2001 council run.
Minuses: Came in last out of six candidates in 2001.
Money Raised: Has not filed paperwork.

Gary Reilly

Age: 33
Neighborhood: Carroll Gardens
Employment: Lawyer
Bio: Member of Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, local blogger.
Quote: “The two biggest issues are transportation and development — they get me fired up.”
Pluses: Not stuck in the Park Slope candidate bottleneck.
Minuses: Youngest candidate; shortest resume.
Money Raised: Has not filed paperwork.

Bob Zuckerman

Age: 47
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Employment: Executive director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy
Bio: Member of CB6, just nominated to become president of the Independent Neighborhood Democrats.
Quote: “There’s a certain amount of government reform and council reform that needs to be implemented.”
Pluses: Has been in politics since he volunteered for the McGovern campaign at age 11 in 1972.
Minuses: Relative newcomer to Brooklyn
Money Raised: Has not filed paperwork.

Updated 4:35 pm, July 9, 2018
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