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Candidate Profile: Ken Diamondstone

Ken Diamondstone does not want to talk about his previous run for State Senate against former Senator Marty Connor nor any rumors about future challenges against Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg) or Joan Millman (D-Boerum Hill).

Instead, he remains focused on a bid to succeed David Yassky for City Council in the 33rd District (Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill), positioning himself as the environmentalist candidate and a fighter for affordable housing.

“With everything from the Williamsburg waterfront to Atlantic Yards, it’s all about the developers,” said Diamondstone.It’s the city that had a lot to do with empty buildings all over the place.Everybody got their foundations in and started building before they had to put in affordable housing.”

Diamondstone, 60, has been an affordable housing developer and Boerum Hill resident over the past two decades.Born in Flushing, Queens, Diamondstone attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan before moving on to Queens College, where he majored in political science and then New York University, where he received a masters in public administration.

He has been politically active in his youth and through adulthood, campaigning for Adlai Stevenson when he was 14 and travelling to Puerto Rico to protest Naval bombing off the island in 1970.He has served as a member of Community Board 2, Brooklyn Parents for Peace, the Citywide Recycling Advisory Board and sat on the executive board of Lambda Independent Democrats, but cites his experience doing AIDS activism and serving 50,000 meals to people living with HIV/AIDS as some of his most important work for the community that shaped his future activism.

In this campaign, Diamondstone has been positioning himself as a reformer with experience in advocating for affordable housing and environmentally friendly development.

“I’m a guy who gets things done and to say the emperor has no clothes when that’s the case,” said Diamondstone.

When asked who the emperors are in this district and this campaign, Diamondstone recited a long list.

“Atlantic Yards, Forest City Ratner, Marty Connor, ending the commuter tax, and housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park.” said Diamondstone.“Never before has there been housing in a park.”

In his campaign, Diamondstone is proposing a myriad of bills affecting housing, government reform, and the environment that he believes would positively affect residents throughout his district.He would like to give short-term leases to light manufacturing businesses and slow the conversion of industrial zones to residential use,work to find ways to keep local business owners and shopkeepers to buy their own buildings to keep neighborhoods sustainable,to eliminate 421a laws completely, and prevent candidates and public officials involved in real estate decisions from taking contributions from developers.

“We don’t need to give luxury housing any more support.We’re not taking care of our teachers, firefighters, artists and writers.They cannot get decent housing in this city because it’s not built for them anymore,” said Diamondstone.

When Diamondstone looks to the future, he sees a green revolution led by weatherization of municipal and residential buildings, harnessing of solar, wind and alternative energy, and partnerships with existing utilities to move away from fossil fuels.

“We need to get off the grid, invest in renewable resources and biotech, and use distributed energy to create our own energy locals,” said Diamondstone.“We can create 50,000 more jobs if we became the hub part of the nation with regards to biotech and greentech.”

This article is one of a series of profiles of the candidates running for City Council in the 33rd District, encompassing Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, and Boerum Hill.The other candidates in the race include Jo Anne Simon, Isaac Abraham, Evan Thies, Doug Biviano, Ken Baer, and Steve Levin.

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