After much deliberation ( and in fighting), we have decided to endorse Evan Thies for City Council. Our review has been exhaustive and exhausting. We know that our decision will not come as a surprise to many. But we wanted to give you our thinking on the matter.
In reviewing the candidates, we looked foremost to the individual records. We also turned a strong eye to the campaigns and who we think can actually win the race. Jo Anne Simon seemed like a good candidate from a distance. A close review of her record (or lack of one) took her out of the running. Simon has been active in community politics for years. But too often it seems that she has waffled and wavered on important issues. She did it on Atlantic Yards and congestion pricing. She also has no record of reform within the Brooklyn Democratic Committee. The final straw that broke the camel’s back has been Simon resorting in her campaign literature to lies and fabrications when she went negative.
As for Steve Levin, we really want to like him. We think that Steve has campaigned very hard. We also think that he has hit great themes on senior housing and early education. But we cannot get over the fact that Levin moved into the District to run. And we really can’t get past the fact that his headquarters are located outside the District in the Bushwick United Democratic Club — Vito Lopez’s power base. Levin has consistently tried to separate himself from Lopez in the race. No matter how much we like Steve, we fear that he will suffer the same fate as Diana Reyna if he tries to move too far away from his mentor. And if he doesn’t move far away from him, we have even greater concerns.
As for the other candidates, we think none of them fit the bill. Doug Biviano has run a nasty negative campaign. We also think that the 33rd representative should provide intellectual fire power that we have not found in him. We think that Ken Diamondstone lays legitimate claim to the reform and anti-Atlantic Yards mantle. Unfortunately, Diamondstone has never been able to put together a winning campaign despite coming out of the gate four times. Diamondstone should realize that his power lies as a kingmaker rather than being a perennial also-ran. Ken Baer and Isaac Abraham have not really had any consideration by us. We think that Baer has run an ineffective race and will make a poor showing. Isaac Abraham seems like a nice person. He is to be commended for broadening our collective understanding of the Hasidic community. We are disappointed by his contributions from infamous property owner Joshua Guttman. We also think that he too has no chance of winning.
That leaves us with Evan Thies. Evan is not the perfect candidate. No one is. His follow through on the Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning deserves criticism. He has also taken two developer related donations. One from James Whalen of Muss Development. (He contributed an identical amount to Simon’s campaign.) He also took money from developer Dean Palin who is constructing as as-of-right project in Greenpoint. Money is a constant struggle for campaigns and Thies has lagged behind Simon and Levin. But we think that criticism on Broadway Triangle is misleading. The Community Board voted by a margin of 2:1 in favor of that project. Thies submitted testimony in opposition to its approval to the Borough President and City Planning Commission. We are aware of no other candidate (other than Simon) that has done so. On the plus side, we think that Evan is smart and knows the District better than any other candidate. From north to south, he understands each neighborhood better than anyone else in the race. His work on environmental, parks and transportation issues has been excellent. These are all critical to the District. He also has a great grasp of how to work within the Council to be effective and hit the ground running. He has run an honorable and honest campaign. Thies gets our endorsement.
Keeping It Real