The race for the 39th district City Council seat is becoming crowded as 7th Avenue on a Saturday.
The latest entry to succeed Bill de Blasio, who is running fro Public Advocate, is his predecessor, Stephen DiBrienza.
DiBrienza was term limited out of the seat in 2001 after two consecutive terms. Also running for the seat are Brad Lander, Bob Zuckerman, Gary Reiley, Josh Skaller, Craig Hammerman, and John Heyer.
The district encompasses Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Street, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, and Borough Park.
“I’ve been talking to as many people in the different neighborhoods of the 39th District to see if they miss my aggressive voice,” said DiBrienza, an attorney who grew up in Park Slope and now lives in Windsor Terrace.
“I’m pretty well known in terms of I speak up and I speak out. I don’t think being an ex-Council member entitles me to the seat, but it certainly doesn’t preclude me from running. I’ve always been on the people’s side in various issues, but we’ll see what happens. One doesn’t know till one gets into it,” he added.
DiBrienza’s announcement was taken in stride by his opponents.
“It’s an open seat and he’s free to run,” said Josh Skaller, who formerly served as president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats club.
“Obviously, we feel good about the issues and think we will make a compelling case for ourselves. We have the most donors and enjoy the support of (State Sen.) Eric Adams and I think we will be very competitive. Winning will take new ideas and a lot of work knocking on doors. We have a track record of working for progressive candidates across the city and have a strong network in the process,” he added.
Lander, who currently serves as director for the Pratt Center for Community Development, took an early swipe at DiBrienza, saying he’s not running as a political professional, but as a longtime community activist.
“People are hungry for new leadership and overwhelmingly supported term limits and wanted new leadership,” said Lander.
Lander predicted the winner of the September Democratic primary will be the candidate with the best track record of helping the community in recent years. It also helps that newly elected State Sen. Daniel Squadron has already endorsed him.
Zuckerman, the executive director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, said he welcomed DiBrienza into the race, but in light of the whole term debate the community is looking for leadership that will inject new energy, and passion into the City Council.
“He’s (DiBrienza) been away for quite some time and not involved in many debates here in brownstone Brooklyn, whether it’s the developments surrounding Atlantic Yards, the Gowanus Canal or Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Zuckerman.
“I think the community is looking for leaders like myself who’s taken strong positions on these issues and have bold new ideas,” he added.
Hammerman, who is the longtime Community Board 6 district manager, said he could see DiBrienza making a stronger argument for running if he would have been around more since he’s been out of this office.
“Certainly he has a legacy to point to, but I don’t know what he’s doing lately,” said Hammerman.
“At this point I’m the best prepared candidate who will need no on the job training. I’m up to speed on the issues, know how city government and can hold my own on a veteran City Council. This is no time to send an untested person there or the district will suffer for sure,” he added.
All the candidates running are either well on their way, or expected to raise the maximum $161,000 allowed to run for the seat as per the city’s campaign finance matching funds regulation.
©2009 Community News Group
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