Long- time Brownsville staple and community leader, Berneda Jackson is stepping up to the plate and joining the crowded field of candidates vying for the 41st Council Seat (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Brownsville, East Flatbush), but with a twist; she is the only Republican on the ballot.
Jackson, believes that it has been the tendency of the community to rely on traditional Democratic values that has hindered the progress of the district. She is hoping her new take and position as a Republican will give people an opportunity to vote not through engrained party leanings, but for the candidate that will bring about the most change for their constituents.
The 45-year Brownsville resident wants to lead the people of the 41st council district on “a journey to success.” She is hoping that the district can flourish through renewed interest and investment placed on senior citizens, affordable housing and educational opportunities, specifically charter school options.
Jackson herself just this year won a case against her landlord who attempted to evict her due to the growing “gentrification” in her area. Her landlord saw an opportunity to make a higher profit with wealthier tenants and then attempted to kick her out. Jackson was able to win her case but wants to stop the cycle of corrupt landlords in the district who are becoming increasingly more successful in kicking out long-term tenants.
“The people in my area, we only make $30,000, no more than $32,000, and then there’s these affordable houses where you have to make $59,000 and better. But there has to be a common ground. As far as I see, we aren’t going to have anything but shelters. Everyone is going to be living in a shelter. There are enough city workers living in shelters because they can’t even afford the rent, ” said Jackson.
As a mother and grandmother, Jackson has seen the danger street gangs and violence can have on a young person and wants to help curb the “allure of the streets” by creating a multicultural youth center. Where children over 13-years-old can go and feel safe, while hanging out with their friends.
“I’m trying to bring back after school programs for teenagers 13-16 years old, these kids don’t need to be on the street unsupervised. To many elements out here that can catch a young man’s or woman’s eye, that can have them going the wrong direction. But when your mother is working and trying to make ends meet with overtime and trying to keep clothes on your back, food on the table, it can get rough,” said Jackson.
The Brownsville resident also holds senior issues close to her heart. In fact, she announced her candidacy at The Kingsborough Senior Center. Jackson is hoping to provide affordable medication, medical care and housing to seniors living on a fixed income.
Jackson has no prior experience in a public office but did run an unsuccessful campaign for the 55th Assembly District in 2016, losing out to incumbent Assemblymember Latrice Walker (D). However, the Brownsville community leader believes her ability to connect with her constituents on a personal level as an actual resident and her long history in the area as a member of organizations like New York Community of Change (NYCC), has given her the ability to pinpoint the challenges in the district.
Jackson is also hoping to “bridge the gap” between the NY Police Department (NYPD) and youth in the community. She wants to bring in police officers from the local precincts to do more activities within the community.
“If police do more activities with the community, both sides are going to learn respect for each other. It’s not going to be anything else,” said Jackson.
Jackson is up against stiff competition and is a longshot with front-runners Henry Butler, Cory Provost and Alicka Samuel leading the pack including strong challenges by Kathleen Daniel and Deidre Olivera fighting it out in the Sept 12 Democratic Primary.
On the plus side, with no primary challenges, Jackson can continue making her case leading into the November general election.