There are a lot of issues facing residents of the 39th Council District: affordable housing, crime, public schools and, of course, croquet.
Fortunately, one campaign is taking the issue of lawn polo seriously, as Green Party candidate David Pechefsky has challenged his Republican and Democratic counterparts to a croquet match this Sunday in J.J. Byrne Park in Park Slope.
Pechefsky, whose prior athletic stunt earlier in the campaign was to take on all comers in chess, says the challenge is an effort “to begin the general election campaign in the spirit of friendly competition,” but he also hinted that he’s green only in party affiliation.
“We used to have big extended family croquet games on my grandparents’ farm in Kansas when visiting for the summer,” he said. “We played ‘no laying-in’ which means that if your ball ends up outside the course you have to hit it from there. Grandma was famous for sending people into the bushes.”
The croquet challenge hasn’t exactly sent shockwaves through the campaign for the Windsor Terrace-Park Slope-Carroll Gardens seat currently occupied by Bill DeBlasio. But Democratic front-runner Brad Lander, who won his party’s five-way primary with a commanding 41 percent of the vote last week, said he’s happy to indulge Pechefsky’s game-playing.
“I’ll be very glad to play Dave in croquet, join[ing] the esteemed ranks of those who have lost to him in chess, or play bocce at Union Hall or a four-square game with him and Aaron Short [a reporter for our sister publication, Courier-Life] — or even talk with him about the needs of the 39th District,” Lander said.
Pechefsky’s GOP rival, Joe Nardiello, said he was “all for” the Green candidate’s effort to add “a little fun” to the campaign.
“A childhood in Brooklyn prepares you for anything, except maybe croquet,” Nardiello said. “But, fun is fun. Maybe we’ll see a Brooklyn version of ‘Happy Gilmore’ before I’m done, there?
“My family gatherings were far from this genteel,” he added.
Pechefsky will play the green ball, with Nardiello using the Republican red.
Political croquet at J.J. Byrne Park (Third Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues), Sunday, September 27, 11 am–1 pm. The winner gets seasonal vegetables from the local greenmarket.