Friday, April 10, 2009

33rd District Race

The Short List will return next week, as I am out of pocket for several days. Meanwhile, here's an article I wrote for the Greenpoint Gazette about the 33rd District campaign race covering Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO, bits of Fort Greene, Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn Heights, and Boerum Hill, which is beginning to gain momentum this month.

Campaign April

A mere six months away, the campaign to replace David Yassky for city council in the 33rd District is intensifying as three candidates, Downtown Brooklyn Democratic District Leader Jo Anne Simon, Community Board One member Evan Thies and State Assembly staff member Steve Levin have each raised over $60,000 as of the second campaign finance filing period.
Levin, Chief of Staff to Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez, had the most dramatic increase in fundraising this year, collecting a total of $76,691 in funds and spending only $15,650, leaving him with $61,041 cash on hand. This represents more than double the amount Levin has raised since the beginning of the year, when he filed his first campaign finance report.
Levin has been keeping an exhausting schedule, canvassing different neighborhoods in the district nearly every night while also running Assemblyman Lopez’s office full-time, attending events and looking to secure endorsements. Levin recently received an award from the United Jewish Organization, recognizing him for his housing advocacy work in the community. He enjoys strong support from Lopez, also the Chair of the Kings County Democratic Party.

Simon, a disability rights attorney based in Boerum Hill, has reported raising $71,617 from over 400 contributors since March 16. So far she has spent $45,246, leaving her with $26,371 cash on hand. In addition to hiring a new campaign manager, Kelly Donnelly, Simon is the first candidate to open an office in the district, celebrating the opening with Brooklyn Assemblywoman Joan Millman on April 4.
“We’ve been willing to take on the leadership of the party when we think they’re not right,” Millman said. “Jo Anne is standing here, saying this is a job I want, not a job that is a stepping stone to run for something else.”
Thies has collected $62,915 from over 200 contributors while spending $28,841, leaving him with $34,074 cash on hand. Thies has been canvassing in the district, attending events and delivering stump speeches to several neighborhood organizations and political clubs. He is planning to open an office soon and hire campaign staff in the coming weeks.

“We’ve been able to organize people from very neighborhood in the district and they’re hosting events and fundraising, getting involved in the campaign in different ways,” said Thies. “Every day we’re growing and that’s the grassroots campaign we need to win these local elections.”
Council candidates Ken Diamondstone, Ken Baer and Isaac Abraham, have also been campaigning hard, raising money, and attending events. Diamondstone, raising $41,488 while spending $13,209 in the most recent filing period, has been spotted visiting the Change Service Fair, a local volunteer fair in Park Slope. Baer, raising $18,439 and spending $10,619, has visited the Park Slope Community Council and addressed the Green Oaks political club in Greenpoint. Abraham has raised $24,127 while spending $15,377.
Several candidate forums and debates appear on the horizon, for which candidates are beginning to prepare. The first forum, sponsored by Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats and Independent Neighborhood Democrats, will occur on April 20, with a members’ endorsement meeting on April 23 at the Park Slope Methodist Church. The following week, New Kings Democrats, a political club with a majority of its membership concentrated in North Brooklyn, is tentatively scheduled to host a formal debate on April 28 at Harry Van Arsdale School in Williamsburg. Future debates sponsored by the Greenpoint Gazette and the Greenpoint Star are also in the works.
In the meantime, the candidates will be pressing newspapers, political organizations, unions and other neighborhood groups for endorsements. Several political observers believe that endorsements can carry weight but that organizing volunteers and meeting voters in the district face-to-face will be the key to winning in September’s primary.

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