If the open 41st District City Council race were a heavyweight title fight with a number of boxers in the ring at once, than Henry Butler and Cory Provost are scoring a lot of points in the early rounds.
Term-limited City Councilwoman Darlene Mealy currently holds the seat in an elbow-shaped district that runs from Eastern Bed-Stuy in the north and then moves south through parts of Crown Heights to a large portion of Brownsville before bending south into East Flatbush.
Butler is the president of Bed-Stuy’s powerful and hard-working Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA) club as well as the District Manager of Community Board 3, and is a retired transit worker with strong roots in the Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 100.
While Butler’s base is in the Bed-Stuy portion of the district, Provost’s base is in East Flatbush, where he’s the male Democratic District leader in the 58th Assembly District. Like many in East Flatbush, Provost has Caribbean roots and will likely get the support of local Assemblyman N. Nick Perry.
Provost’s activism began at an early age, and after graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School, he went on to get both a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Master’s Degree in Urban Policy and Administration – both from Brooklyn College.
“I’m running mainly because when you look at the 41st Council District and compare it to a number of other districts there is a shortage in terms of public services and opportunities for students. Unfortunately, part of the district [Brownsville] has one of the highest poverty rates in the city, if not the country. My experience working with the city and understanding of how the city works will better connect people with services they need,” said Provost.
Both Provost and Butler are well-organized, and held fundraisers two weeks ago that were reportedly well-attended, and both will likely raise in excess of $20,000, which together with a 6-to-1 public financing match, is more than enough to run a campaign in the district.
In terms of financing, however, one key might be independent expenditures, in which outside non-connected sources can pour thousands of dollars behind negative and positive mailers and advertising as long as they are independent of anyone’s campaigns. It is as an independent expenditure that the Real Estate Board of New York [REBNY] strongly influenced the outcome of several Brooklyn City Council elections in 2013.
While Butler and Provost are quick out of the gate there are several candidates currently in the shadows that are poised to make a strong run for the seat. This includes Alicka Samuel, Kathleen Daniel and Deidre Olivera.
Samuel will get strong support from Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (D-Brownsville), as she was her former chief of staff. She was born and raised in Brownsville, was the area’s former female Democratic District Leader and currently works for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).
Daniel currently works in Borough President Eric Adams’ office and is already on a local flier for a Valentine’s Day event she is doing with Mealy. Olivera is holding a Valentine’s Day Fundraiser and according to the City’s Campaign Finance Board records has already raised nearly $5,000 from an impressive 65 contributors, meaning the contributions were spread out as opposed to coming from just a few deep-pocketed donors.
Others in the race already or expected to enter the contest are Boris Santos and Royston “Uncle Roy” Antoine.