It’s never too early to start raising money for next year’s City Council races, as a group of Greenpoint community members celebrated the beginning of summer by hosting a fundraiser for City Council candidate and Williamsburg resident Evan Thies, 18 months before the election.
“I had breakfast with Evan and we decided that we wanted to raise a little money for him,” said Jane Pool, co-host of the fundraiser and a board member of the Open Space Alliance and Neighborhood Alliance for Good Growth (NAGG). “He’s a great guy. I identified him as very smart, a great advisor, and a big picture guy who understands the issues and the community. Our neighborhood is in this incredible transition and transformation and we need really good representation here.”
Thies, a former advisor to Councilmember David Yassky, declared his intentions to run in the 2009 council race last November. More than half a dozen candidates have since officially declared their interest in Yassky’s seat, including Assemblymember Vito Lopez’s chief of staff Stephen Levin, Democratic District Leader Jo Ann Simon, environmental activist Ken Baer and Ken Diamondstone, who announced his decision to run earlier last week.
Thies currently works as a media and strategic planning aid to non-profits in New York City and serves as the Environment and Sanitation Committee Chair at Community Board 1.
The fundraiser, held at the Smolenski Democratic Club (145 Java Street), was hosted by Hugh and Jane Pool, local businessman John Tapper, and Adam Perlmutter and Barbara McGlamery. About 30 people attended the event, which, including pledges from members who did not attend, raised $5,000 for Thies’ campaign, one of Thies’ largest single-day fundraising events of the year so far.
Several people who attended are members of the Smolenski Democratic Club who encountered Thies from his work as an advisor to Yassky and through several of the organizations, such as NAGG, the Open Space Alliance (OSA), and the Community Board, that Thies regularly attends.
“One thing I liked about Evan when I talked with him about a parks issue was that he gave really great advice and often had more information than I had about the issue,” Jane Pool said. “He explained to me how things work in a way I could understand. He just had this look on his face that said, ‘Yes, I love government.’”
Dewey Thompson, a documentary filmmaker, OSA board member and Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning member, worked with Theis when he was lobbying Yassky about resurfacing the soccer field at McCarren Park.
“He’s clear-headed, commonsensical, and has a low ego,” Thompson, who also co-hosted the fundraiser, said. “He was good at cutting through leftover factionalism in the neighborhood and he gets things done. Having someone who lives here and understands the rezoning issue inside and out is a tremendous benefit for those of us who live here.”
At the fundraiser, Thies gave a speech, crediting his grandmother, who ran for elected office and advocated a needle exchange program in Michigan, with instilling in him the call to run for public office and government’s role in helping members of the community. Thies thanked his multi-generational grassroots supporters who have been politically active in Greenpoint for decades.
“When you make a campaign about community issues, and reach out to your neighbors, you find volunteers like these in every neighborhood who will work twice as hard and care ten times as much about the campaign then casual observers,” Thies said in an interview with Courier Life after the fundraiser. “They care because the campaign is about them, which is the way it should be.”
Thompson and his daughter baked a cake for the occasion, inscribing with icing the words, “Sweet Dreams are Made of Thies,” which he hopes Thies will adopt as his official campaign slogan.
“My daughter wouldn’t know Annie Lennox if she jumped on her back,” Thompson said.