Democratic officials are ramping up their attacks on John Heyer, one of five hopefuls to succeed Councilman Bill DeBlasio, slamming right-of-center candidate as too “conservative” for the Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Windsor Terrace district because of his opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights.
On the eve of Tuesday night’s candidate’s forum and Thursday night’s Independent Neighborhood Democrats’ endorsement meeting, Democratic District Leader Alan Fleishman called on club members to reject the 27-year-old Heyer in favor of Bob Zuckerman, most recently the leader of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy.
“Let me be clear: John Heyer is a nice guy and a decent fellow, but when it comes to choice and same-sex marriage, his views are much more conservative then those of most IND members,” Fleishman wrote in a letter to club members that was leaked to the award-winning BrooklynPaper.com today. “John is clearly out of step with the progressive principles of IND and our district.”
Many clubhouse Dems are worried that Heyer, who works for Borough President Markowitz and also oversees funerals at the Scotto Funeral Home in his native Carroll Gardens, could win the IND endorsement, given Buddy Scott’s influence with the club. Scotto is the founder of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association and the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, and is active on most every local issue.
In addition to Fleishman’s call for Democrats to reject Heyer, IND President Kenn Lowy told The Brooklyn Paper that he would grill Heyer on his Dem credentials at Tuesday night’s debate on the abortion and gay marriage issues.
“Democrats, especially liberal progressive Democrats in Brooklyn, believe in a woman’s right to choose,” Lowy said. “But John’s answer on this issue, and on same-sex marriage, calls into question his commitment to the separation of church and state. He believes that life begins at conception and that abortion is murder.”
Lowy also objected to Heyer’s answer to a recent candidate questionnaire about gay marriage.
“I don’t think that government has the right to define ‘marriage,’” Heyer wrote in the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats survey. “For me, [marriage] is a religious institution and therefore has no place in government debate.”
Lowy objected. “That answer makes no sense,” he said. “Suppose you’re an atheist?”
All other candidates in the race — Brad Lander, Josh Skaller, Gary Reilly and Zuckerman — favor same-sex marriage. Skaller has already won the CBID endorsement, but Fleishman is pushing for Zuckerman.
“Bob has bold, new ideas for reviving the local economy and helping small business owners, attracting new green industries and green jobs by rezoning the Gowanus corridor as the city’s first green district, and for reforming the City Council though ideas like ‘Council on your Corner,’ his promise to create a roving field office to visit his constituents in a different neighborhood one night each week,” Fleishman, a former president of the Lambda Independent Democrats, a gay political club, wrote in his letter to IND members.
Heyer did not return a call in time for The Brooklyn Paper’s blistering online deadline.
Candidate debate for pols seeking the 39th council seat (currently held by Bill DeBlasio), Church of Gethsemane [1012 Eighth Ave., between 10th and 11th streets in Park Slope, (718) 855 0345], May 19, 7 pm.