Council Candidates’ Forum Yields No Differences on Issues Crucial to Heights

Despite hot and humid weather, a sizeable crowd gathered in front of the War Memorial in Cadman Plaza Park for the City Council Candidates Forum on Sunday, starting at 5:00 p.m. The candidates, from left to right in the photo above, are: Elizabeth Adams, Victoria Cambranes, Sabrina Gates, Toba Petosky, Lincoln Restler, Stu Sherman, Benjamin Solotaire, and April Somboun. Three of the candidates, Ms. Gates, Mr. Potosky, and Ms. Somboun, live in Brooklyn Heights; Mr. Restler grew up in the Heights and now lives in Greenpoint.

On issues particularly important to Heights residents, all want some solution to the problem of the crumbling Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that doesn’t involve a six lane “temporary” highway in place of the Promenade. All were concerned about the effect of rising commercial rents and city bureaucracy on locally owned businesses; Ms. Gates emphasized her role as a business owner.

On citywide issues, all recognized the need for affordable housing, with Mr. Potosky emphasizing his experience as president of his Mitchell-Lama co-op in the Cadman Towers, and Ms. Sonboun speaking of her experience coming to New York as the child of a refugee Laotian single mother and living in public housing. Mr. Restler stressed the need to make developers more responsive to community needs. On the issue of “defunding” the police, all agreed that the NYPD is now tasked with duties, including responding to mental health crises and traffic control, that should be the responsibilities of mental health professionals and the Department of Transportation, respectively.,

The proceedings were, as a whole, marked by civility and respect among the candidates. An exception was when Ms. Cambranes was given, as were each of the candidates, an opportunity to ask a question of one of the others. She asked Mr. Restler why his campaign had violated a pledge not to engage in negative attacks on others, saying that she had been personally attacked by his. Mr. Restler emphatically denied that he knew of any such personal attacks, said it was contrary to the principles of his campaign, and that anyone who engaged in such would be asked to leave the campaign.

Mr. Restler was then given the opportunity to ask a question of another candidate. Turning to Ms. Sonboun, he asked how she, as a mother with school age children, felt about how the re-opening of schools was being handled. She said she thought a remote learning option should be continued for now. This Tines opinion pieceagrees with her.

There’s more about the candidates in this Brooklyn Paper piece. Early voting for the primary election starts this Saturday, June 12.

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  • Mike Suko

    Anybody there to report on the overall vibe and takeways other than unanimity about the need to attend to our infrastructure?

    Sure seems to me like the powers that be will kick the BQE can down the road until there are some fatalities – aren’t we better than that?

    BTW, when the candidates were asked for written answers to a host of NYC questions (the new Council-person WILL have to deal with the 98% of NYC outside his/her/OUR district), one of the 3-4 candidates with a Heights connection OPPOSED any reduction in funding for the NYPD. Yes, it’s the one who was a registered Republican in 2016, and that’s the very last thing/person we need in 2021. I guess Toba’s handlers reminded him that he’s running in a *Democratic* primary, since he flip-flopped on that per the limited reportage of the event.