In a parting message to the candidates in the 39th Councilmanic District, Independent Neighborhood Democrats (IND) President Kenn Lowy had one wish: for everyone to play nice together.
“I really do hope this is a clean race,” Lowy told this paper as he stepped down as IND president last week, following a candidate forum that may be best described as the dirtiest moment in the usually chummy race.
Mud was slung late last month when supporters for candidate Bob Zuckerman voiced their outrage against opponent John Heyer’s conservative stance on gay marriage and abortion.
While all of the other candidates expected to be in the Democratic primary — which includes Josh Skaller, Brad Lander and Gary Reilly — are totally in favor of gay marriage being legalized in New York, Heyer prefers a wholesale change of the law where the state would offer “legal unions for all couples regardless of gender or sexual orientation.” His strong Catholic upbringing has prevented him from supporting gay marriage, he has said.
With liberal democrats in the 39th Councilmanic district balking at his decision, it was inferred that Heyer would be questioned on his beliefs at the IND forum. Heyer refused to attend, claiming that the forum would be rigged, but won the club’s endorsement anyway.
As a result, Lowy announced that he was taking a leave of absence as president until after the primary.
“In the eight years I have been a member of IND, I have never considered taking a leave from the club,” Lowy explained. “But under these circumstances, it would be unfair to our endorsed candidates for me to remain president.”
Lowy said that he could not in good conscience collect signatures for Heyer because of his conservative views.
He said that he would resume his duties as president after the primary and “do everything I can to heal whatever rifts have developed among the membership” — referring to the outrage voiced by some of the club’s more progressive members following the endorsement.
“My hope is that IND will be a strong progressive voice for Brooklyn again soon,” he said.
As Lowy begins to mend divisions in his own club, he hopes that the 39th Council race becomes more and more divisive as the months march on, he said.
“I don’t think it’s going to get dirty and I don’t think it should get dirty,” he said, adding that he has already made his peace with Heyer. “Even if people disagree with John, he shouldn’t be outright attacked. That’s not the way.