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On the 33rd campaign trail

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With the petitions due in to the city Board of Elections this week, the front-runners in the 33rd District City Council race are all feeling confident.

The district encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Greenpoint, Williamsburg and parts of Park Slope.

The leading candidates figure to be political insiders Jo Anne Simon, Steve Levin and Evan Thies.

Simon is the 52nd Assembly District Democratic leader, Thies is term-limited Councilmember David Yassky’s former chief of staff, and Levin is the current chief of staff for Assemblymember and Kings County Democratic boss Vito Lopez.

Also in the race are Isaac Abraham, Ken Diamondstone and Ken Baer.

In order to be on the September primary ballot, candidates must have at least 900 signatures of registered Democrats in the district on their petitions.

“Things are going great. I think we’ll have in the vicinity of over 4,000 signatures,” said Levin, adding that he’s been out on the campaign trail every night.

Along the way, Levin said he’s learning that essentially the same issues resonate with residents throughout the entire district.

“Folks are concerned about affordable housing and specifically about affordable senior housing,” said Levin. “They are also concerned about public education, and making sure there are quality day care centers.”

Thies also said the petitioning is going well and expressed confidence he will have many more signatures than what is needed to be on the ballot in September.

“It’s really nice to see we have so much support from every part of the district,” said Thies, reflecting on his campaigning. “What has struck me most so far is how smart and engaged voters are in these neighborhoods. It’s encouraging to see people who care about government and are taking the time to make an educated decision on who’s going to represent them.”

Thies said voters seem most concerned about the issue of development overwhelming infrastructure.

“That’s why I put together a responsible development agenda that will change the way the city prepares zoning changes so it works with infrastructure before zoning changes,” Thies said.

Conversely, Simon, who should also easily have enough signatures on her petition to run in the primary, feels that campaigning on the street has shown her there still is a tremendous need for voter education.

“There are many people who think you can just be on the ballot because you feel like it,” Simon observed. “Many people don’t understand the petition process and have no idea who represents them.”

However, Simon said she has also learned on the campaign trail that people are very hungry for someone from the neighborhood who will work with everybody and has a track record of working with everybody.

Simon, like her aforementioned opponents, also said that affordable housing is a major issue.

Diamondstone said he is having a wonderful time on the campaign trail, where people often remember when he ran for the State Senate in 2008.

“I’m advocating for no more of the status quo and moving beyond the politics as usual, and they [voters] like that message of change,” Diamondstone said.

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