Historically, Brooklyn politics are never looked at as an “anything can happen” paradigm. Usually whoever wins the Democratic primary wins the general election. That’s it. Case closed. End of story.
Apparently no one told this to the candidates running for city council in the 39th District.
Republican Joe Nardiello, Green Party candidate David Pechefsky and Democratic nominee Brad Lander have been burning so much shoe leather in the last few weeks that it looks like primary time all over again in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.
The three candidates have popped up almost everywhere, including the CNG home office, where they took part in a video debate sponsored by our sister publication the Brooklyn Paper.
Since September, the three men hoping to replace Bill de Blasio have brought their case either together or individually to the Windsor Terrace Alliance and a debate sponsored by the Food Coalition and other community groups concerned about foods served in public schools.
Last Monday night was a perfect example of how these debates tend to go: As the three candidates squared off at the monthly meeting of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, Nardiello portrayed himself as a bulldog — and Lander as Councilmember Bill de Blasio’s lapdog.
The Republican said electing Lander would amount to a third term for de Blasio, the darling of the Working Families Party, which also supports Lander. “There is a connection between the two,” Nardiello charged.
Lander said he and the man whose seat he covets “have our differences,” including their position of whether to designate the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site, which Lander supports and de Blaiso is against.
Pechefsky tried to stay out of the fray, saying he would bring a “strong, independent voice of reform,” to the Council, whose speaker, he added shouldn’t hold as much influence as the position currently wields.
Meanwhile, Nardiello did offer some praise to frontrunner Lander. “I think Brad would make a great commissioner of housing,” he offered.
As Election Day approaches, the debates are getting more ornery, as well as zanier.
The three candidates were recently seen taking public school standardized test outside of MS 51 on Fifth Avenue to decry a snafu in the Voter’s Guide that indicated that Lander was the only candidate with a child in public school (all three are proud public school parents).
Nardiello, who sees himself as a Republican who can “reach across the aisle to get things done” (he has a Democratic fan club that agrees with him) gave himself an A on the test.
Meanwhile Pechefsky, who wears his ten years as a city hall staffer as a badge of honor, had the guts to tread where few Green Party candidates have dared or cared to go %u2013 Democratic political clubs.
Both he and Lander went toe to toe in front of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats. The issue debated was near and dear to Pechefsky’s heart %u2013 reforming the powers of the City Council Speaker.
A Green at a Democratic club? How crazy is that?
Crazy like a fox, perhaps.
Since Democrats outnumber Republicans eight to one in Brooklyn (the number is even higher against Green Party members), Nardiello and Pechefsky have to win over as many Democrats as possible to beat Lander.
At the same time, they also have to bring their case to, as Pechefsky puts it, “the 15,000 voters not registered with any party, who are glad to finally have a real choice come Election Day.”
Yet to Lander, who, even though he is still considered the front runner has taken the time to garner the endorsements of the Lambda Independent Democrats and other local political clubs that initially sided with his opponents in the primary, the constant campaigning has created an added benefit: an educated public.
“It has been great to continue to talk about the issues with people from all different party affiliations,” he said. “I’m glad that all voters in the 39th district will be able to make a choice as to who they want in the City Council.”
Election Day is November 3.