Earlier today, more than a dozen local union workers, Crown Heights residents and supporters stood with Democrat Ede Fox, as she officially announced her candidacy for the 35th Council District (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) at the Bedford Union Armory.
Fox, who narrowly lost to City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo back in 2013 in a five-person race, with face the incumbent this time in what will basically be a two-person contest. She chose to utilize the proposed controversial Bedford Union Armory redevelopment housing project as leverage to run a successful campaign this time around in making the announcement.
“The most important thing we need from an elected official is one who is present, who is vocal who is engaged and who is going to stand up for what we need. We need a Council member who is going to say ‘No’ when the City wants to take city-owned land and turn it into luxury housing not 100% affordable housing. I will always say ‘No.’ We deserve someone better. Someone who is strong and is going to stand up for our rights,” said Fox to her supporters.
Fox said she is running with progressive issues as her focus in particular, affordable housing, overdevelopment and support of working families.
She has the support of Mason Tenders’ District Council PAC, NYS Laborers’ PAC, DC9 and Metallic Lathers and Ironworkers Local 46, who she plans on providing with jobs, safe working conditions, fair wages and an opportunity to work on redevelopment projects that further community growth and engagement.
Fox has support from one of the most vocal groups in the area, The Movement to Protect the People (MTOPP), a grassroots activist group that fights against rezoning and luxury development within Community Board 9 (Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Crown Heights and parts of Flatbush). Alicia Boyd, the group’s leader thinks that a new Council member is the only option left in order to fight the increased luxury development in the area and hopes that Fox can be an ally in the fight.
“What we do know is that Laurie Cumbo has a track record and her track record is horrible when it comes to protecting the community, creating true affordable housing and being for pro-development. We definitely want to take the risk on a new person [council member] than a person that has already has a proven track record. The Armory is a perfect example. There is no reason why this armory can not have affordable housing. Private developers have a record of promising something they never provide, said Boyd.
Cumbo’s campaign spokesperson Jennifer Blatus responded to the announcement by highlighting Cumbo’s decades long work in the community and her ability to bring the community together.
“Council Member Laurie Cumbo is a hard-working and dedicated public servant with an unparalleled track record of serving her community for over 25 years with real and tangible results. She is looking forward to highlighting that record in the coming months as she embarks on her official campaign for reelection. As always, she will run a high road campaign designed to unite and inspire the community that she represents,” said Blatus.
Current plans for the Armory include a new 67,000-square-foot recreational space with basketball courts, multi-sport courts and a competitive-length swimming pool to serve local youth sports leagues, senior programs and others.
The plan also includes commercial office space – some of which will be offered at discounted rates for local small businesses and non-profits in need of affordable rents. Six local non-profits have already signed onto some of this space enabling them to provide free or low-cost programming to Crown Heights and the Central Brooklyn community.
The Armory will also include a 330-unit rental housing building with 50 percent affordable housing, as well as new condominiums, of which 20 percent will be affordable to middle-income homeowners.
Many in the community, including a few Crown Heights lawmakers want the deal killed and a new plan proposed so that it is of 100% affordable housing and its facilities accessible to the community without any fees. Cumbo, who originally supported the project, has since been open to more negotiations about it.
Additionally, just a couple of weeks ago Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of 90 new shelters across the city with the first ones proposed to open in Crown Heights. This has caused an uproar in the community with many feeling that the neighborhood is becoming the dumping ground for shelters.
The Primary Vote is slated for September 12 with the General Election in November.