Sections

>
July 23, 2009 / Brooklyn news / Politics / Election Coverage

They’re off! Fields are set for September primaries — and The Brooklyn Paper is there

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Last year was taken up with fundraising and calling in favors. The winter was filled with bland meet-and-greets. June was wasted collecting petition signatures to get on the ballot. But with just two months to go before the Sept. 15 Democratic primary election — tantamount to victory in most Brooklyn neighborhoods — the race for key City Council seats in Brownstone Brooklyn are about to go into hyperdrive.

This year’s battle features two open seats with big fields (Districts 33 and 39), an Oedipal struggle between the county’s boss and his former protege (District 34), a mini-showdown over Atlantic Yards (District 35), and a weak challenge to a weak incumbent (District 38).

Follow The Brooklyn Paper from here on out every step of the way.

District 33

Parts of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO, Downtown, Brooklyn Heights, and Park Slope

The tense race for the fightin’ 33rd almost turned into a brawl this week, after candidate Steve Levin — the chief of staff to Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick) who has racked up the most endorsements — filed preliminary objections against two rivals.

Levin — whose most important backing, of course, is that of his boss, who is also Democratic Party chairman — sent shockwaves throughout the district this week when his friends and staffers moved to kick frontrunners Jo Anne Simon and Evan Thies off the ballot.

But Levin told The Brooklyn Paper that the preliminary objections to those candidates’ nominating petitions were standard operating procedure, and he promised he wouldn’t log any official challenges against his foes before Monday’s deadline.

Simon — a Democratic District leader and civil rights lawyer who has raised an astounding $103,383 — says the kerfluffle was an attempt to “distract me from my campaign, and I am not going to be distracted.”

Thies — a North Brooklyn activist and former staffer of Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) — called the objections “a common tactic employed by machine politicians.”

But that’s hardly the only big issue in crowded race, which also includes Hasidic activist Isaac Abraham, lively upstart Doug Biviano, environmentalist Ken Baer and perennial candidate Ken Diamondstone.

Key issues in the race include the city’s contentious plan to rezone the Broadway Triangle in the district (everyone opposes the city’s plan, except for Levin, whose boss supports it), and the lack of parkland and affordable housing in the district (everyone wants more of both).

District 34

Parts of Williamsburg and Bushwick

The extension of term limits allowed Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D–Williamsbu­rg) to run for re-election, but that doesn’t mean she’s guaranteed another four years in the office.

Her campaign is focusing on affordable housing, senior services, job training and gang violence, but her opposition to the city’s controversial plans to rezone the Broadway Triangle in South Williamsburg has opened her up to criticism from supporters of the proposal.

As such, Reyna’s main opponent is backed by none other than the county’s powerful party boss, Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick), who supports the city’s plan and used to be Reyna’s mentor.

“She has not been vigilant — she has not been here. You should be more attentive to what’s happening in your district, than what’s happening in someone else’s district,” said Council hopeful Maritza Davila, who works for the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council — an organization that is poised to receive coveted affordable housing bonds for the residential redevelopment of the Broadway Triangle.

Making matters more interesting, Davila, as well as Community Board 1 Chair Gerry Esposito — who is campaigning as a reformer capable of cleaning up the Council and is not backed by Lopez — have raised $80,430 and $79,784, respectively, while Reyna has only secured $63,389.

Davila’s sympathizers have already issued preliminary objections to Reyna’s campaign petitions, but it remains uncertain whether or not they will file an official challenge.

Rounding out the field is Gladys Santiago, a longshot.

District 35

Parts of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights

Democratic incumbent Letitia James would have been eligible for re-election even without the term limits extension, but that hasn’t stopped two challengers from entering the political ring to unseat her.

Delia Hunley-Adossa, a pro–Atlantic Yards neighborhood activist, and Medhanie Estiphanos, an unknown newcomer, seek to defy the odds — no sitting councilmembers lost in 2005 — and beat James.

James is popular in her district and holds all the advantages of incumbency, but her Achilles heel could be her paltry fundraising, making it tougher to flood the district with a pro-Tish message. Unlike other legislators, she had not focused on fundraising, and has raised just $31,030 compared to the surprisingly strong $22,585 raised by Hunley-Adossa, whose support for the troubled Atlantic Yards project has helped her raise money from labor and construction unions.

District 38

Red Hook and parts of Park Slope and Windsor Terrace

Sara Gonzalez, the Democratic incumbent with few Council accomplishments under her belt, is on cruise control to re-election.

Her path back to City Hall became a lot easier when David Galarza, a well-funded previous candidate, dropped out of the race last year, leaving Sunset Park lawyer Robinson Iglesias as the main challenger.

He’s raised $6,264 — barely enough to even pretend to be competitive. Gonzalez has long been dogged by reports of poor attendance in the Council and a limited track record of achievements.

District 39

Parts of Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Kensington

The race for outgoing Councilman Bill DeBlasio’s seat is one of the most hotly contested campaigns in the city. This wacky field includes five Democrats, two Republicans and even one Green.

Running under the Democratic banner are John Heyer, a funeral director; Brad Lander, the former director of the Pratt Center for Community Development; Gary Reilly, an attorney; Josh Skaller, an IT director; and Bob Zuckerman, the former director of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy. All five have been active in various civic organizations and are cut from the similar cloth on policy issues — except for Heyer.

The aide to Borough President Markowitz found himself at the center of a controversy in the early days of the campaign for his distinct views on gay marriage. Though his critics labeled him a conservative for not supporting same-sex marriage outright, Heyer has staked out perhaps the most liberal territory by saying that all state-sanctioned nuptials, gay or straight, should be civil unions, not marriages.

Lander and Skaller have emerged as front-runners, with Lander touting his “16-year record” of “making people’s lives better,” and Skaller championing himself for not taking donations from real-estate developers. The two are also battling for public school parents — a key demographic in the district. Skaller’s child does not attend public school while Lander’s two kids do.

In such a spirited field, it all comes down to street presence. Whoever knocks on the most doors, shakes the most hands, and figures out a way to get some attention will become the next representative.

The GOP primary has already been marred by the recent “stolen petition” scandal of George Smith. But with that behind him, he’ll face Joe Nardiello. Both men are relatively unknown — and whoever wins is headed for an inevitable defeat in November.

Updated 4:37 pm, July 23, 2009
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

Mike from Carroll Gardens says:
I'm glad you included the two republican candidates. We may be few, but we take pride in the Grand Old Party of Lincoln.
July 23, 2009, 10 am
Mr. Anonymous from Park Slope says:
Heyer a liberal? You've got to be kidding. He's also anti-choice.
July 23, 2009, 10:04 am
Greenpointer from Greenpoint says:
Vito Lopez is untrustworthy. Of course his man would try to kick everyone else off the ballot. How do you think Vito Lopez wins elections? It's not because everyone likes him.
July 23, 2009, 10:23 am
Greenpointer from Greenpoint says:
Vito Lopez is untrustworthy. Of course his man would try to kick everyone else off the ballot. How do you think Vito Lopez wins elections? It's not because everyone likes him. It's because he prevents challengers from being allowed to run.
July 23, 2009, 10:27 am
Bob from Bushwick says:
Can you all see how Stephan Levine is working; he is going in his former buss and trouble maker ‘Vito Lopez, foot steps, we all know that is a selfish person
And trying to be in power, I can’t see my self this youngster with no experience what so ever becoming our councilman…
He is worry if candidate Joan Simon and candidate Even Thies, will win the race so he is trying to get them challenged and not focus on there campaign...
Enough is enough! We all say Levin-Lopez just go away!!!..
July 23, 2009, 11:17 am
Gill from Greenpoint says:
Assemblyman V. Lopez- Stephan Levine As they say in Gaelic: Your are putzes! I'd vote for anyone but you come this November, you self serving loud & obnoxious political Hack.
July 23, 2009, 12:01 pm
Ben from Bushwick says:
What is so rung if Levine likes men only, I call him GAY!! But he likes his small cats at home, there is noting to be a shame… as long he likes someone……
July 23, 2009, 5:45 pm
Debbie from Williamsburg says:
“She has not been vigilant — she has not been here. You should be more attentive to what’s happening in your district, than what’s happening in someone else’s district,” said Council hopeful Maritza Davila, who works for the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council — an organization that is poised to receive coveted affordable housing bonds for the residential redevelopment of the Broadway Triangle.

Yes Davila works for RBSCC and therefore Lopez has her in his pocket too. What does Davila think? Does the whole world revolve around the 34 district? What happens at the Broadway Triangle will affect the 34, plain and simple.
July 23, 2009, 8:34 pm
Bob from Bushwick says:
Guys do you know that Maritza Davila is lesbian!! She likes only women… we like equal opportunity. The other side she is veto Lopez friend so just stay away from her this can be trouble for everybody!!
July 23, 2009, 11:59 pm
Mike from Carroll Gardens says:
Bob, you are hitting below the belt on this one. Shame on you. I share the same interest in women as she does. We have something in common. I'll support her.
July 24, 2009, 9:17 am
Ben from Greenpoint says:
Mike.. I feel your pain it’s a fact!! You can't change it……….she wont make it! So who cares anyway!!!
July 24, 2009, 10:30 am
Debbie from Williamsburg says:
"Bob from Bushwick"

Your comment is out of line.
July 24, 2009, 12:42 pm
Kriss from Bushwick says:

Why are we focus on the losers lets focus on the winners only. It’s about time.. what are you thinking?
July 24, 2009, 4:24 pm
bob costas from greenpoint says:
What a joke! Gerry Esposito is going to clean up the council. Can you believe him. He lives in Maspeth, Queens, yet he represents a district in brooklyn?
Aug. 1, 2009, 11:59 pm
Chronos from Bushwick says:
"bob costas from greenpoint says:
What a joke! Gerry Esposito is going to clean up the council. Can you believe him. He lives in Maspeth, Queens, yet he represents a district in brooklyn?"

.....How would you know?
Aug. 14, 2009, 7:48 pm
Henry from the hill says:
I cant wait to see george at the debate i remember in college he never lost one when he ran office in college. I am a senior citizen and I stand up for people like george he didn't give up as I read in the paper to the 3 times people have took him to court to get him off the ballot he wont give up, he hasn't gave up on me and I know he wont give up to all of u
Aug. 17, 2009, 8:22 pm
Sally from Park Slope says:
Did anyone see Tuesday's edition of the NY Post? These must be a better candidate for the Republican party.
Aug. 19, 2009, 12:17 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!