Biv Sharpens Message

The Brooklyn Paper
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Sparks continue to fly between two Brooklyn City Council candidates in an increasingly negative Democratic primary race to replace Councilmember David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg).

The exchange between the two candidates, Brooklyn Heights resident Doug Biviano and Boerum Hill resident Jo Anne Simon,reflects a change in tone from the Biviano camp.A father of three, Biviano had previously emphasized his experiences as a civil engineer, building superintendent, and a public school parent as the basis for his campaign, instead of focusing ongovernment reform and criticizing opponents’ records.

According to Biviano campaign spokesperson Wilson Karaman, the change represents a natural shift that new candidates often make after introducing themselves to the voters.Beyond introductions, Biviano has now looked to amplify his message about reform, which has remained consistent throughout this campaign.

“As Doug [Biviano] got into the race and we saw who he was up against, it became clear that the folks who have been anointed frontrunners in this race, Evan Thies, Jo Anne Simon, and Steve Levin, don’t represent the kind of reform and proactive government we need right now,” said Karaman.“Instead, they reflect the kind of stagnant inaction in city politics that we have had for years, especially regarding the slush fund scandals.”

Other candidates in the race include Ken Diamondstone, Ken Baer and Isaac Abraham.

Brooklyn political observers and other candidates in the race have noted that the additions of longtime political activists Morgan Pehme and Gary Tilzer, who, in addition to Karaman and Frank Lentini, are helping to shape Biviano’s sharper reform messages.Pehme and Tilzer have been consultanting with the Biviano campaign for the past month, and have consulted with a number of candidates challenging incumbents and Democratic Party-backed candidates throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

On the eve of a contentious Brooklyn Independent Television-Courier Life-Brooklyn Paper debate for the 33rd District, Biviano repeated his message about reforming the Brooklyn Democratic Party, while criticizing Simon for not standing up to party leaders.

“Two weeks ago, I stood up and said ‘enough,’ and demanded Vito Lopez resign as chair of the Kings County Democratic Party,” said Biviano, minutes after the televised debate.“What I want to know, Jo Anne, is if you’ll stand with me today on the side of real reform?”

Biviano and his campaign staff remain unconvinced, and say they will continue to challenge thier opponents’ records.

“This is the same thing we’ve seen from Jo Anne time and time again,” said Biviano.“She likes to call herself a progressive and a reformer, but she never has the guts to take a stand when it matters,” said Biviano.“Jo Anne had her change, and she didn’t get it done.I will.”

Simon campaign manager Kelly Donnelly fired back, saying that Simon is committed to “running a campaign on the issues” and continuing her work as a reformer if elected.Donnelly pointed to Simon’s history of opposing the Democratic party’s judicial selection process and Simon has said that she abstained from voting for Lopez when he was running for Chair of the Kings County Democratic Party.

“While others seem intent on using slash and burn negative campaign tactics, Jo Anne continues to go door to door talking to the families of the 33rd about the issues that matter most to them,” said Donnelly.

The Courier Life-Brooklyn Paper debate series can be seen on your local BCAT provider (BCAT provider (Time Warner 56, Cablevision 69, RCN 84 and Verizon 44).For more information about the schedule, visit

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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