way of judging candidates.
And that is the question I want to discuss: What makes a good candiate? I do get excited about candidates when I find one who really seem good. The candidates I find inspiring are not the ones who are supported by big money interests. Instead they are smart, articulate, and good on the issues. But there is one thing more that really makes a candidate kick ass. Dedication to the community. In some ways this may be the thing that can break through racial, cultural and political divides, because a candidate who proves him or herself to the community can get broad support. I want to discuss just such candidates.
His viewpoint really struck me as being pretty important for winning elections. Politicians who prove their dedication to the community DESERVE community support and will GET community support.
The problem is that community activists are seldom the candidates who get the big bucks from big business to win elections. Instead they are usually grassroots candidates who need our help to win. They may get recognized by some grassroots organizations, but they often don't get far because they don't have the money to get their message out.
I want to introduce you to three candidates that need your help to get their message out. These people are superb candidates. Intelligent, dedicated and endorsed by many progressive organizations. And, in the spirit of trhe UAW guy, they have already proven their dedication to the community far more than most politicians ever do. Please help me elect politicians who are DEDICATED to the community. They deserve our support.
Chris Owens running for NY-11 Congressional Seat: I want to start with Chris Owens because he is also a friend of mine. This is a picture of him and his father with Howard Dean. The Owens family were early endorsers of Dean, long before most of us jumped on board. Chris Owens does come from a political family. His father is my Congressman. Chris is running to replace his father in Congress, something that I did not like at first but was quick to forgive when I realized what a kick ass candidate Chris is. Chris has also proven himself as a community-dedicated candidate. Chris Owens had a distinguished tenure on a local school board, a tenure that a friend of mine who has been a NYC community activist since the Civil Rights days of the `60's praises quite strongly. Chris is the only African-American man to have served on the Political Action Committee of NARAL-NY and is a dedicated advocate of a woman's right to choose. In recognition of this he has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood's Action Fund. Chris is also an advocate of marriage equality. Chris is an ally of the excellent Civil Rights advocate Norm Siegel (former head of the NY Civil Liberties Union and a strong civil liberties advocate in NYC). Chris has been extremely concerned with the mayor's closing of firehouses in poorer areas of Brooklyn, something which has left some areas, mostly poor areas, iadequately protected. Chris was arrested while protesting the closing of one firehouse, indicating that he is willing to put himself on the line for his community. Chris has been working to preserve the cultural heritage of Brooklyn, serving as President of the Weeksville Society, working to preserve historical sites in the Weeksville and Bed-Stuy communities in Brooklyn. Some people know my work with a Latvian synagogue and realize how important I view the maintenance of cultural heritage. Chris has also been a dedicated Democrat, founding the Paul Robeson Independent Democrats (PRIDE), serving as chair of the Kings County Democratic Coalition (KCDC), and serving as Co-Chair of the New York State Democratic Coalition (NDC). His dedication to the Democratic party and to Howard Dean is how I met him. He was active as a member of Democracy for NYC since before he declared his cadidacy and our conversations at those meetings are part of what has led to my support of him. He has been endorsed by Democracy for NYC with an amazing 96% of the endorsement vote. Jim Dean, head of DFA, will soon be coming to town to help out with a fundraiser for Chris. Chris has also been endorsed by another group that originated in the Howard Dean campaign: New Democratic Majority. NDM rarely gets involved with primary elections, but they consider Chris to be such a good candidate that they have decided to endorse in a primary. As a progressive and a dedicated community activist, I ask that you support Chris Owens.
His Democratic opponants are Yvette Clarke (links with Republicans and most likely to vote with Republicans on so-called "social issues" like marriage equality, etc, and has been a frequent liar regarding who supports her), Carl Andrews (formerly the right hand man of the head of the county's Democratic Party machine...that former head, Clarence Norman, is in jail for corruption and many are sure that Andrews will be in jail himself within 1-2 years for his connections in Norman's corruption) and David Yassky (someone else I know personally who WAS a grassroots candidate, but now is the recipient of a record amount of money, mostly from big business interests and who supports bombing Iran).
Bill Batson running for Assembly in the 57th AD: Bill Batson is a candidate whose dedication to the community is what has driven him to politics. In fact, he came to politics quite reluctantly. Like Chris Owens, I met Bill at a Democracy for NYC meeting, though in his case that was after he declared his candidacy. Those who saw my recent diary on the Latvian synagogue and why I am fighting to save it may remember that I quoted Bill. He feels that the cultural heritage of Brooklyn is being systematically destroyed by developers who have no respect for the community, and he sees this loss of heritage as a considerable threat. He says it this way: "If you take away a person's heritage, you can do anything you want to them." I found this a very powerful statement and I admire his dedication to the community he lives in.
Bill Batson has expressed considerable concern over the suspicious fires hitting poor and minority areas of Brooklyn and believes that these fires are suspiciously benefiting developers. He called it the "Disneyfication of NYC by arson." Rather than merely complain, Bill Batson has actually organized arson patrols, modeled after Community Watch programs, to protect neighborhoods from arson fires. He has served on a local community board, focusing on both fire issues (such as the mayor's closing of critical fire houses) and on preserving neighborhoods from excessive development. He has been endorsed by the Sierra Club in recognition of his work to preserve a healthy and safe urban environment for Brooklyn residents. He has also spearheaded a movement to save cultural heritage sites in Brooklyn such as homes that had been stopping points on the Underground Railroad. Bill Batson worked with Norm Siegel at the NYCLU protecting the civil rights of New Yorkers. Recently, Bill Batson was endorsed by the Civil Service Employees Association, CSEA Local 1000, AFSCME in recognition for his work negotiating union representation for workers at Lifespire, Inc., who chose to be represented by CSEA. Bill Batson has served his community, furthering union representation, fire safety and preservation of cultural heritage sites. He, too, has been endorsed by Democracy for NYC. Bill Batson is one of the best candidates I have known.
His Democratic opponants are Freddie Hamilton (very nice grandmotherly type who is allied with the same corrupt machine as Carl Andrews) and Hakeem Jefferies (who is an ornary, hostile person who can spend 6 hours, litterally, with community members and STILL leave them uncertain where he stands on an issue).
Finally there is Eric Adams running for State Senate in the 20th SD: I met Eric Adams, a candidate for NY State Senate, at a meeting of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), a local progressive Democratic Club. My wife had previously had some interaction with him and had considered him largely a grandstander. So she was very skeptical when he started speaking. But we both were extremely impressed with him at the CBID meeting. He was direct and addressed issues of concern to us. Eric Adams has served his community as a police officer AND an advocate for civil liberties (a rare an refreshing combination) as well as a liaison between the NYPD and the black community. In NYC there is a considerable split between the NYPD and the black community. Eric Adams is dedicated to bridging this gap. He is best known as being the NYPD Captain who is willing to criticize his police superiors on minority relations, civil rights and on their handling of terrorist warnings. Eric Adams is the head of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care and an ally of the former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Norman Siegel. So, in my mind, Eric Adams combines some very fine qualities--service in law enforcement, spokesperson for minority rights, and advocate of civil liberties. He also, along with Bill Batson, is concerned about the unusual number of suspicious fires hitting poor and minority areas of Brooklyn near areas coveted by developers, though he was more circumspect in his linking it to development. His style is very much that of a police captain: rather gruff and no-nonsense. Eric Adams has real dedication to the community, to law enforcement and to the rights of all Americans. He genuinely seems to be running so he can bring that dedication to the state senate. And here is another common theme among these candidates: Eric Adams, like Bill Batson and Chris Owens, has been endorsed by Democracy for NYC.
His main opposition, Musa Moore (close ally to Carl Andrews and Clarence Norman) dropped out. Elizabeth King is his remaining opponant. I am not so familiar with her. She seemed nice but out of her depth to me. Eric can DO something in Albany. Elizabeth probably can't.
I am pushing for these candidates to a national audience because they are up against strong opposition from well-financed politicians whose dedication to the community is luke warm. Bill Batson and Chris Owens in particular need help overcoming the advantage money gives to their opponants. I am blogging for these candidates partly to introduce the idea of "community candidates" and also to try and get national grassroots/netroots support for these community candidates. Please help us out if you can.