Democratic voters in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Carroll Gardens and other parts of the 39th Council District have four extremely qualified candidates for the nomination to succeed Councilman Bill DeBlasio.
• Brad Lander, the former head of the Pratt Center for Community Development and the Fifth Avenue Committee, is a talented community activist and affordable housing developer. None of the others can match Lander’s resume or compare with him on how many fights he’s taken on. Whenever there’s a local problem, Lander is the guy with the five-point plan.
• Josh Skaller is the candidate with whom you want to have a beer. But he’s not just likable; he’s is a true progressive who would make his council office a bullhorn on many issues, such as global warming, national health care, the economy and taxes.
• Bob Zuckerman, the former head of the Gowanus Canal Local Development Corporation, is the most liberal of the candidates, supporting a single-payer health care system, more arts funding, gay marriage, and a Park Slope Food Co-op-style requirement for parent involvement in the schools. And he once led the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, which gives him a small business perspective important to Brooklyn’s identity.
But the candidate we are endorsing for the Democratic nomination is John Heyer.
Some say he’s too conservative for the district. But we take a longer view of labels like “liberal,” “progressive” and “conservative.” If Heyer is conservative, it is only in the sense that he is an old-school, working-class Democrat, the kind that once dominated New York City politics.
We differ with him on his opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights, over which he has taken considerable heat, yet has always been amiable and inclusive rather than divisive.
Indeed, temperament is Heyer’s greatest calling card. Still a young man, Heyer has worked for Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Carroll Gardens) and Borough President Markowitz — and promises to be the kind of councilman who uses the position as a neighborhood resource rather than a stepping stone to higher office.
During debates, including one sponsored by the Community Newspaper Group last month, he was the one constantly steering conversations back to nuts-and-bolts, block-by-block pothole issues, such as the closing of a subway entrance or poor conditions in a local park.
He also promises to fight the abuse of the Council’s “slush fund,” those pernicious member items that are poorly overseen.
And he’s the only candidate in the race who is not ashamed to say that he wants the Atlantic Yards basketball arena built at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, a position that we share.
A fifth officeseeker, Gary Reilly, is likeable and intelligent, but he lacks the professional or political background that his four rivals have.