Guest Blog: Hope Reichbach, Candidate for District Leader 52nd AD

After months of campaigning and with Election Day fast approaching, I would like to take the opportunity to thank so many of you for opening your doors and sharing your time with me throughout my grassroots campaign for Female District Leader. I’ve run a positive door-to-door campaign. Over the last several weeks, Jo Anne Simon’s rhetoric has grown increasingly negative. Unfortunately, instead of engaging with the community on the issues that are important to all of us, my opponent Jo Anne Simon, has relied solely on vicious attacks against me and my family

I’m running for District Leader based on my record and accomplishments, not by slinging mud at my opponent’s character and family.
On this blog, Ms. Simon asked “What is a District Leader?”A very important question, but one that a six year incumbent like Ms. Simon should have answered for her constituency long ago. A District Leader should be a known entity. She should be an accessible leader. As Communications Director to Councilmember Stephen Levin, I work hard every day to ensure that constituents know how to access government resources to help solve their everyday problems.

As a lifelong resident of Boerum Hill, I have never known our District Leader to be accessible to members of the community. Instead she has been disengaged all these years, The District leader has never informed me of a community event, an opportunity to participate, or even of an upcoming election. In many areas of Brooklyn, the District Leader is an important community leader. Unfortunately this is not the case in the 52nd Assembly District.

Over the past five months, it has been a privilege to knock on over 3,000 doors and amazingly, few know who their District Leader is or what they do. This is a depressing reality in the 52nd Assembly District. It is time for a change. It is time for the District Leader to work hard, be available, and encourage involvement in local elections and local politics.

Ms. Simon, a self proclaimed progressive, boasts that no one has run against her club in over forty years. As an actual progressive in the Democratic Party, I’m appalled by her sense of entitlement to holding elected office in this district. I believe democracy thrives on competition, choice, and elections. Ms. Simon is upset that voters have a choice this year. We have a choice between her club and a change.

Unfortunately, Ms. Simon has continually showed that she has no interest in hearing the voice of voters in this district. A District Leader has enormous influence in the location of polling sites in her district. However, voters all over the 52nd Assembly District are disenfranchised by inconvenient polling locations. In most New York City Housing Authority developments, the residents vote in the community center of the development. The residents of Gowanus Houses, a development with over 20 buildings, vote almost half a mile away while a sadly underused community center (due to budget cuts, some of which I have successfully fought against) lays dormant on election day. Why hasn’t the District Leader demanded that Gowanus residents be able to vote in a convenient location? Maybe it is because those residents don’t traditionally support the District Leader, or maybe it is because the residents of Gowanus don’t have the economic means to have a strong voice given the current elected officials in our community. Whatever the reason, it is inexcusable.

This year, the residents of the 123rd electoral district in Brooklyn Heights were shocked to find that their polling site had been moved to DUMBO. This electoral district has a large population of senior citizens. Suddenly, these seniors were faced with the task of traveling over a mile, up and down hills, over and under construction, across intersections without crosswalks, to cast their vote. Where was Ms. Simon? Why was this polling site moved with no notification just days before the election? My running mate, Stephen Williamson, and I worked tirelessly to find a solution to this obvious disenfranchisement of hundreds of voters. After negotiating with the Board of Elections and local community centers, Congregation Mt. Sinai has offered to open up their sanctuary so the residents of the 123rd electoral district can access the polls. Mr. Williamson and I have not been elected, but we worked day and night to ensure that voters can vote. Where was our District Leader?

Ms. Simon claims only she can provide progressive leadership, but her “progressive” agenda can be difficult to follow. Ms. Simon has claimed to be a progressive, independent leader. However she had no problem endorsing a pro-life, anti-marriage equality candidate in the 39th Council District. At one point, she was against housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Apparently though, after discussion with the bosses in her democratic club, her position has changed.

Up until recently, she was pro-Atlantic Yards. Suddenly, when it seemed politically beneficial, she became a crusader against Atlantic Yards. Ms. Simon has a picture of herself holding a “traffic calming now” sign on her website. Several years ago, a prominent civic leader worked tirelessly to apply for a grant from the Department of Transportation for a traffic calming study. Ms. Simon, and her cronies, forced the Community Board to reject money the DOT had offered the community. You read that correctly. Ms. Simon advocated for the community to reject city funding for a study on this issue.

Ms. Simon has also changed her mind about my father. At the beginning of the summer, she told the Daily News that my father is an “excellent judge” (Daily News, May 5th 2010). Last week, as retribution for me daring to run against her, Ms. Simon and her cronies filed a confidential complaint against my father with the Judicial Ethics Board and then proceeded to leak the confidential complaint to the press. Ms. Simon claims she wants to take the politics out of the Kings County judiciary. Apparently this doesn’t apply when the daughter of an “excellent judge” gets in her way.

Ms. Simon continuously notes that she is the “reform” candidate. I have seen no reforms in the democratic process or the Democratic Party in the 52nd Assembly District under her watch. The judicial panel she heralds as her major contribution to reform was the brainchild of the man she obsessively attacks with half-truths and outright lies, Vito Lopez.

We need real reform in our district. We need District Leaders who want to be involved in a democratic process. We need Leaders who will be a resource to every community in the district. We need leaders that don’t just appear out of the woodwork a week before Election Day, year after year. We need independent leaders who will fight hard for our community. Leaders who will always support candidates that represent our interests, and will work hard to give everyone in our community a stronger voice. We don’t need personal attacks, lies, and dirty tricks. We need new leadership.

Please allow me to share with you a video I just made explaining why I am running for District Leader, the problems in our district, and what I have already done to work towards a better community.

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  • The3rdMan

    So a politically connected family is trying to get their politically connected daughter elected to an office nobody has heard of. I love NY local politics. Hope, go live some life and then come back in ten years. This isnt student body president.

  • Quinn Raymond

    I have no issue with Ms. Reichbach’s age, but instead of a lengthy attack piece on her opponent I was hoping she would better articulate how exactly the Lopez machine is helpful to the residents of the 52nd AD. It seems to me that people are unsatisfied with the way Albany works, and the Lopez machine is a big part of that.

    I will be voting for Jo Anne Simon and Jesse Stauss.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    She sounds like a nice kid. I just wish that she wasn’t part of the Vito machine. It’s hard to believe that anyone working with Vito is going to be part of any kind of legitimate reform in Albany.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Also, BHB, regarding your NYS Assembly poll, can you give us a choice for “None of the Above” so more of us can participate?

  • Keep the party bosses out of the 52nd District

    Let’s get some facts straight:
    1. Jo Anne did not endorse anyone in the 39th District last year.
    2. The 123rd ED was moved at the last minute because of construction at PS 8. If you were doing your job as the Council Member’s Communications Director (and not being a Vito Lopez henchperson), you would have known that and you would have known everything the district leader did to try to find a suitable temporary sight for this year.
    3. Only a Vito Lopez backed candidate could skirt judicial ethic regulations and then claim to be the victim of a political attack.

    When you spend a few years working on solving community problems and issues like Jo Anne has, then maybe you can think about running for office.

    Good luck on Tuesday.

  • Reggie

    “Up until recently, [Jo Anne Simon] was pro-Atlantic Yards.” As someone who has been involved with the project since December 2003, I can absolutely assert that statement is completely false.

    As for traffic calming, I don’t know what money Ms. Reichbach is referring to, but there are few people who have worked harder on that and related issues than Jo Anne Simon. Jane McGroarty, maybe.

    There are different ways to be a district leader, which we should remember is a part-time job. Jo Anne has done week-in, week-out work on major issues like traffic calming for years. E-blasts announcing free flu shots is the easy stuff that takes the place of substantive contributions.

    When I call Ms. Reichbach for assistance at the councilman’s office, most of the time she puts me on hold and Marian Wood comes on the line to help.

  • Too Old to Be Fooled

    I thought that someone with a nickname like “Moose” would have thicker skin. Perhaps it will develop with age. You can’t get $5,000.00 from politicians and PACs at your tender age without being political royalty or having an attachment to the political machine. Since your name isn’t Clinton, Kennedy, or Cox, it is clear that you have gotten your support from the Lopez organization. You should embrace who you are and point out the merits of being one of Mr. Lopez’s proteges. I value a record of civic involvement and independence and therefore I will support Ms. Simon. However, I know that there is hope that you will someday develop into a community activist with an independent voice because I have seen it happen in the careers of Surrogate Lopez-Torres and Councilwoman Reyna.

  • breukelen9999

    Wow, I see why she’s a communications director. Spin, spin, attack, spin, misinformation, spin, misinformation, spin, redirect, spin. “I’m running for District Leader based on my record and accomplishments…” Say what?

    Jo Ann Simon isn’t perfect either, but this write-up is absolutely wrong about its allegations of her statements and positions. E.g., she never endorsed the pro-life candidate in the 39th council district (Joan Millman did).

    Vito Lopez is the king of patronage and control, and he has put Ms. Reichbach and Mr. Williamson forward because he can’t control Ms. Simon.

    I really, really, really hope that voters don’t fall for this.

  • Park Slope resident

    I love the enthusiasm with which Hope is taking on Ms. Simon. I have been loosely following this campaign and Ms. Reichbach is right, the only things any of these commenters can point out bad about her is her connection to “the machine”. Well if she can save senior centers and daycare centers whilst being part of the machine so be it. I will be voting for Hope Reichbach so that she can continue to do some of the great things that she has been doing for the community for many more years.

  • cobble hill activist

    I have known Jo Anne Simon for a long time. When Ratner’s plans for AY first came to light, I approach her asking to join my coalition of residents against AY. She plainly said to me “but people in Boerum Hill are in favor of atlantic yards, so I don’t want to do that.” She is the worst kind of opportunist.

  • Hit Man

    I’d hit it.

  • Slope Voter

    Not surprisingly, Joanne Simon is living in the past, and hoping that no one notices.

    I know Hope Reichbach, and I know that as someone that grew up in Brooklyn’s public interest legal community, and who counts such progressives as Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project among her supporters, Hope will support candidates with real public interest and public service experience.

    Unlike Simon, who, Zelig like, pretends to have been at the center of every judicial campaign in recent Brooklyn memory, but who actually can barely get enough support to run her own election, Hope will bring energy and drive to Brownstone Brooklyn.

    I’m voting for Hope and Steve on Tuesday, you all reading this should too.

  • Ben T.

    Hey, look guys!

    The campaign got word that folks were bringing down Hope Reichbach for being a party hack and sent over our good friends, “Park Slope resident,” “cobble hill activist,” and “Slope Voter,” to set the record straight.

    We need independent voices, not minions of a corrupt political machine … a machine that probably generated this blog post.

  • x

    Hope looks very beautiful. I hope she’s single. ;)

  • Slope Voter

    Hey Ben,

    I’m not a minion, just sick of living in an Assembly District (52nd AD) whose politics are controlled by the IND (Inept, Close to Dead) political club. IND gave us John Heyer to vote for in the 39th District City Council race, and is controlled by an ineffective clique of losers.

    For example, it is my understanding that Simon and Strauss, although both from IND, not only do not campaign together, but that Simon is telling her close friends to support Chris Owens against Strauss! It is this sort of circle firing squad that completely eliminates IND, its district leaders and Assembly and Senate representatives, from having any relevance whatsoever.

    I’m voting for Hope Reichbach and Steve Williamson, maybe we can start a political club without all the pathetic infighting and worthless backstabbing. For that the 52nd has IND!

  • the Where

    Slope Voter – I hear that you are a Levin donor making you part of the machine.

  • Keep the party bosses out of the 52nd AD

    @ Slope Voter:

    I’m going to assume you are a friend of CBID based on your poor attempt to slit Simon and Strauss up and your assessment of IND while trying to promote Chris (I came in 4th place to replace my inept father in Congress) Owens. They campaign together on a regular basis, such as on Saturday at the GAP greenmarket.

    And a piss-poor attempt to bring in John Heyer. John has been involved with IND longer than anyone who ran in the 39th Council District even LIVED in Brooklyn. Since when did the Democratic party decide that pro-life candidates can’t be in the party? John Heyer is pro-choice: he chooses life. If he got pregnant he would choose to have the baby. Good for him. It’s his choice. Get it?

  • pankymom

    Using her first name in the gag-worthy slogan of “brooklyn’s great new freakin’ HOPE” — or whatever it is on that mailer i tore up — lost me in an instant. BARF. I will vote for Jesse whatsisname instead as he appears to be the least icky. politicians … yeesh.

  • Claude Scales

    Pankymom: just to clear things up, there are both male and female district leaders (both male and female voters get to vote for both). Hope Reichbach’s opponent is Jo Anne Simon, who is the incumbent female district leader. Jesse Strauss is running for male district leader. He has two opponents: Stephen Williamson, who is the Lopez-backed candidate, and Chris Owens.