A slew of City Council candidates running in Brooklyn’s 40th and 41st districts showed up last night to plead their case for support in a Brooklyn Young Democrats (BYD) political club forum held in the basement of the Caribbean bar and restaurant BK9, 62 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.
Among those in attendance were District 40 incumbant City Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D-Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, Ditmas Park) and his challengers Brian Cunningham, Pia Raymond and Jennifer Berkley.
Among the candidates vying for term-limited City Councilwoman Darlene Mealy‘s (D-Brownsville and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, East Flatbush and Crown Heights) seat were Alicka Samuel, Jamell Henderson, Kathleen Daniel and Cory Provost. During the forum, each candidate was given about five minutes to speak, and a few additional minutes to take questions from attendees.
The candidates spent just as much time describing their character as they did their stances on issues, if not more so. They went out of their way to establish themselves as characters that the people of Brooklyn, particularly the young and marginalized, could trust and relate to.
“I’m running for the 41st district, bbecause it’s my community,” said Samuel. “I love my community. I was born and raised in Brownsville. It’s who I am. It’s the only thing I know to do. I have always been of service to my community for way over 20 years now.”
Eugene insisted that, despite not being a native of Brooklyn (or even the United States), he could identify deeply with the struggles faced by the underprivileged Brooklyn youth.
“I was born on a beautiful island, Haiti,” said Eugene. “A country of difficulties. If somebody said to my mother or my father, ‘Your son would be one day, a member of the great city, New York City’, my mother and my father would say, ‘Tsk, tsk, tsk.’ But because I had the opportunity to have an education, I stand before you today, and I’m humbled as the first Haitian-American to be elected to government in New York State. That’s why I’ve been doing everything I can do to provide young people with the opportunity that they need.”
This theme was also reflected in the questions that were asked of the candidates. After Berkley finished describing her platform, the first question posed to her from the audience was, “Can you just talk about how long you’ve lived in the district, and what your roots are in that community?”
Berkley responded, “I’ve been in the district for almost five years, which I know is not as long as a lot of other folks. But it’s my home, and I spend a significant amount of my time in my community.”
Henderson explained that in these uncertain times, the people of Brooklyn are looking for young, personable candidates who are deeply in touch with the community. In the midst of the Trump administration, Brooklynites are trying to find solace in the form of local leaders they can relate to, said Henderson.
“I have the service of the people at heart,” said Henderson. “Since the 2016 election, people are looking to be lead by fresh, young candidates who aren’t part of the system.”
Daniel echoed this sentiment during her speech.
“This is what the 41st district needs,” said Daniel. “Someone who is willing to roll up their sleeves in the season of resistance, when we have orange people in the White House spreading psychoses across the globe… and inoculate New York City from the nonsense coming down from DC.”
Following the meeting, a BYD’s member said the club will not be making any endorsements as of now.