September 16, 2009 / Brooklyn news / Politics / Election Coverage

In the 39th District: Lander crushes four rivals

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brad Lander: 5,129 (41.1%)
Josh Skaller: 3,180 (25.5%)

John Heyer: 2,753 (22.1%)

Bob Zuckerman: 930 (7.5%)

Gary Reilly: 472 (3.8%)

Lander, an affordable housing developer best known for his work leading the Fifth Avenue Committee and the Pratt Center for Community Development, dominated his four Democratic rivals, winning all but one polling location outside the heavily Orthodox Jewish, and largely conservative, Borough Park portion of the district.

In that neighborhood, Heyer, who ran on a message of school vouchers and an opposition to gay marriage and abortion, crushed all his rivals, winning 74 percent of the vote to Lander’s 13.

But those conservative votes were a tiny fraction of the more than 11,000 cast in one of the city’s hottest races for the Democratic nomination to succeed Bill DeBlasio, who opted to run for Public Advocate.

Lander said the key to his victory was the strength of his positions on the “issues that matter to the district: affordable housing, livable communities, jobs and good schools.”

“Voters wanted someone with a record of results,” he concluded, accepting the hugs and handshakes of his supporters at Commonwealth Bar on Fifth Avenue and 12th Street in Park Slope.

Surprisingly, Lander won a majority of votes — 52 percent — in Park Slope, a neighborhood where Skaller, a resident, had hoped to run well. He did land 33 percent of the vote, but needed to do much better, considering his trouncing elsewhere.

“As badly as we lost, we also won something,” Skaller told his supporters at Johnny Mack’s on Eighth Avenue and 12th Street. “Before we got into the race, the importance of taking on Atlantic Yards was not seen as serious, the need to fight developers in Carroll Gardens was not on the agenda, and the urgency of a Superfund clean-up of the Gowanus Canal was not understood — but it all is now.”

He said that the reason he did so poorly in Borough Park is that he is a proud liberal who wouldn’t change his message to pander to conservatives.

“It was easy to go into Borough Park and say, ‘I am for gay marriage,’ because I am,” he said.

The Skaller loss came despite last week’s late-campaign endorsement by none other than upstate New York Rep. John Hall. Can’t place the name? Hall was once the lead singer in the cloying, soft-rock band Orleans, famous for its hit, “Still the One.”

Though winning the Democratic nomination is tantamount to victory, Lander promised to run a serious campaign against Republican nominee Joe Nardiello.

A Green Party candidate, David Pechefsky, is also in the race.

Updated 5:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Natalie Burrows from Cobble Hill says:
I am pleased and proud that Josh Skaller got his message out to so many new voters. Truly affordable housing needs a new and more specific definition and I think Josh has gotten the conversation going in a more honest direction. His support for a Super Fund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal gives us hope that this process will succeed in the long run. I am proud that his liberal principles were strongly and openly voiced and represent more of the majority opinion than was immediately evident. I hope he will run again.
Sept. 16, 2009, 9:51 am
Jessica from CG says:
Now, my mailbox will be a lot less full!
Sept. 16, 2009, 1:42 pm
Patrick from Gowanus says:
Voters saw through the hypocrisy of the Skaller campaign which stated government condemnation for Atlantic Yards with Urban renewal was bad but government condemnation of Gowanus businesses by Superfund is good.
Sept. 16, 2009, 2:03 pm
anon from carroll gardens says:
Patrick, if that is true then why did Josh win all the EDs at PS 32 and only lose to Brad by a handful of votes at PS 58. Those voters live in very close proximity to the canal. By the way, Brad Lander supports Superfund too and submitted comments to the EPA.
Sept. 16, 2009, 2:14 pm
Raul from Prospect Heights says:
Congrats to Brad Lander! He will stand far above most City Council members because of his intelligence, understanding of the issues, and his commitment to the progressive causes that I support. I am a proud Skaller activist, and I think Josh ran a fantastic campaign, and now I look forward to working with Brad.
Sept. 16, 2009, 2:47 pm
Mike from Carroll Gardens says:
Again, it is all about the Democrats. Did you know that Joe Nardiello won by a landslide 69 to 30? What other candidate on the Democratic side came even close to those figures? Oh! I forgot to mention that Joe Nardiello is a Republican!!!
Sept. 16, 2009, 6:04 pm
Henry from Carroll Gardens says:
Mike is right! Joe Nardiello, who did not use any taxpayer funds, by the way, is in the race to win.

I hope Mr. Lander is looking forward to vigorous debate on the issues.
Sept. 16, 2009, 6:22 pm
Paul from Carroll Gardens says:
If you think that Nardiello has any type of shot, you must be drinking the Heyer koolaid.
Sept. 16, 2009, 9:12 pm
Anonymous from Carroll Gardens says:
What about Pechefsky? I hope he starts actively campaigning.
Sept. 16, 2009, 10:56 pm
Anonymous from Carroll Gardens says:
Whomever you supported during the primary, now is a time to coalesce and keep the issues front-and-center. Stop sniping and continuing negativity. We have a candidate who DOES support the very issues that have been defined as progressive:
- Superfund designation for the Gowanus (he submitted comments to the EPA, and has a very well-defined position at
- Critic of Atlantic Yards (process and plan)
- Supported the Carroll Gardens/Columbia Waterfront Rezoning to restrict out-of-context development
- Opposes excessive use of "high-stakes testing" in schools.
- Etc.

Certainly, you can hold his feet to the fire, but recognize that he will advocate for the right issues and will do so effectively.

The campaign had some very unfortunate battles, but it's time to come together, recognize shared objectives, and facilitate the process rather than be obstructionist.
Sept. 17, 2009, 7:22 pm
Mike from boro park says:
Im so happy mr. smith is still in the race holding the Conservative party vote, I endorse him.. and guess what I have heard from my people that the Smith campaign is having secret meetings with the mayors campaign.. do I hear soon to be endorsement from the mayor of new york, finally someone sees the true work Mr. Smith has done for ny not just Brooklyn.
Oct. 1, 2009, 10:18 am
Julie from Boro Park says:
Hey Mike from Boro Park, not in this lifetime would the Mayor rub elbows with the likes of Mr. Smith. The Mayor has class, and Smith is just a pig with lipstick... Glad you endorsed a loser... In case you didn't know, he LOST...
Nov. 5, 2009, 9:03 pm

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