City Council Primaries 2017: Sources Say Fox To Challenge Cumbo

Several knowledgable sources say that Ede Fox is again looking to challenge to incumbent Laurie Cumbo for the 35th City Council District seat covering Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and a parts of Crown Heights in this year’s September Democratic Primary.

City Council Member Laurie Cumbo

Fox currently serves as City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito‘s Director of Economic & Community Development in the City Council, lives in Prospect Heights, has considerable support among the neighborhood’s white progressives and could pose a strong threat to upend Cumbo.

In the 2013 Democratic Primary, Cumbo along with female Democratic District Leader Olanike Alabi, Fox, Jelani Mashariki and Richard Hurley ran to fill the open seat left vacant when the term-limited former City Councilwoman Letitia James successfully won the Public Advocate seat.

In the hotly contested primary, the three main vote getters were Cumbo 7, 561 votes, Alabi with 5,369 votes and Fox with 5,340 votes. Sources very close to Alabi confirmed that she will not run for the council seat in the primary, but it is fairly known in the district that there is little love lost between Cumbo and Alabi, especially as Cumbo supported Renee Colleymore last year, either overtly or covertly, to beat Alabi for the district leader seat. Alabi subsequently  won decisively.

Ede Fox

Cumbo and Fox each raised and spent about the same amount of money (the $200,000 range) in the 2013 primary, but Cumbo enjoyed huge support from the independent expenditures of Jobs For New York, which is the political action committee (PAC) arm of the Real Estate Board of New York. In the primary, Jobs For New York spent about $230,000 in campaign mailings for Cumbo and another $13,500 in negative mailings against Fox.

Since winning, Cumbo was also fined about $8,000 for accepting improper campaign funds from the anti-carriage horse group NYCLASS.

Additionally, developer Don Capoccia, Partner of BFC Partners, a member of REBNY, has won two competitive bids for large projects in her district – the proposed senior center in NYCHA’s Ingersoll Houses, and the highly controversial redevelopment of the Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights.

During Cumbo’s tenure, she has also helped stewart some $5 million in city funding for the museum she founded, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporna Arts (MoCADA), which has raised a good number of eyebrows both in the district and in anecdotal conversations among city officials with KCP.

On the plus side, Cumbo has been a champion city funder and advocate for a fairly long list of arts and cultural institutions besides McCADA, and has been the prime or co-sponsor on a number of bills that passed the city council relating to criminal justice reform and women’s issues. She has also been a solid and active advocate for the NYCHA developments in the district.

Fox, who could likely be out of work once Mark-Viverito is term-limited out of office, has little to lose by running. She is knowledgable on legislative matters, neighborhood issues and has lengthy government experience.

On the down side, she is facing an incumbent with name recognition and voter turnout may be low, especially if Mayor Bill de Blasio doesn’t get indicted or face a serious challenger in the primary.

Neither Cumbo or Fox could be reached for comment at post time.

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