Public Funding Reports For City Council Candidates In Districts 34, 35, 38, 40, 41, 42 Reveal Some Surprises

The City’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) yesterday issued their first round of matching public funds yesterday for the Sept. 12 2017 primary elections, and things worked out for City Council candidates pretty much as expected with some surprises in districts 34, 35, 38 and 40, 41 and 42.

Public funds are paid to participating candidates who qualify for contributions raised from New York City residents. Each candidate must raise at least $10 from 75 residents within the district, and $5000 from city residents, of which only the first $175 counts to receive the $6-to-$1 public funds match. Each contribution from a city resident could be worth up to $1,050 in public funds to that candidate.

The maximum amount of these taxpayer funds that candidates were able to get yesterday was $95,095. Here is a breakdown and short analysis of who received and didn’t receive funding in those districts.

While, the candidates who received matching funds yesterday certainly have a head start in they passed the CFB’s initial eligibility audit, candidates that didn’t receive funding have until Aug. 11 to amend and/or fix any problems with their fundraising filings, and may get funding on Aug. 17.

There is also a third CFB matching funds payment date of Sept. 8, just four days before the Sept. 12 primary.

Below is a rundown on the districts that KCP is covering.

District 34 covering portions of Bushwick, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso
Tommy Torres

Incumbent City Council Member Antonio Reynoso received close to the maximum with $93,080. His opponent, Democratic District Leader Tommy Torres, received $63,173.

While $63,173 is nothing to sneeze at, Torres faces an uphill battle in unseating the popular Reynoso, who has the strong support of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila and the powerful New Kings Democrats political club.

District 35 covering Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Crown Heights

City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo
Ede Fox

Incumbent City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and her challenger Ede Fox remain locked in a tight contest with Cumbo receiving the maximum $95,095 in matching funds and Fox receiving just $8 short of the max with $95,047.

Like a champion prize-fighter, Cumbo has to be considered the favorite as it’s always a challenge to knock off an incumbent. She has strong support from the numerous NYCHA developments in the district, in which she has been actively involved for a number of years, even before being in the city council when her Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art (MoCADA) held events in the NYCHA developments.

Fox’ base is Prospect Heights and the many progressives in the district. This includes the NIMBY crowd that ardently fought against the Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards development. She may also get a bounce in Crown Heights from residents upset with Cumbo’s initial support for the Bedford Union Armory project. Cumbo has since withdrawn her support for the project, but there are some in the district who feel if she wins the primary, she will again support the project.

This race is already down and dirty. The primary will likely come down to the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill brownstone belt, and the Pratt Institute corridor along Myrtle Avenue, which will likely swing Cumbo’s way.

District 38 covering Sunset Park, Red Hook, Greenwood Heights and a sliver of Boro Park

City Councilman Carlos Menchaca
Assembly Member Felix Ortiz

In a race that features several Democrats making the primary ballot, only Incumbent City Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz received matching funds, and both received very close to the maximum pay out.

Menchaca received $92,221 and Ortiz received $95,047.

Like the 35th district race, a tight contest is expected here. Menchaca is the progressive darling. He is the first openly gay Mexican-American in the city council, and has the strong support of both Rep. Velazquez and progressive behemoth City Council Member Brad Lander. The rap against Menchaca, real or perceived, is that he’s not a big in-the-district council member, and focuses more on national issues such as Sanctuary cities and the plight of illegal immigrants than local issues such as the district being flooded with homeless shelters.

Ortiz is a veteran lawmakers and tactician with a number of legislative victories under his belt. The rap against him, real or perceived, is he’s just running for the increase in pay and less travel that being in the city council will bring.

This race is a toss-up with Menchaca perhaps getting the incumbent’s edge. That said, Ortiz does have an elected lawmaker’s base in the district, and if there is to be a upset, the 38th District is likely the one to watch.

District 40 covering Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park and Prospect Lefferts Gardens

City Council Member Mathieu Eugene

The big news here is nobody including incumbent City Councilman Mathieu Eugene received any matching funds. That said, Eugene enjoys a huge fundraising advantage over his three opponents, Pia Raymond, Brian Cunningham and Jennifer Berkley.

Eugene has $75,461 in his campaign war chest, far outpacing his nearest rival, Cunningham, who has $6,378. True, most of this money comes from unions that traditionally comes to incumbents, but money is money.

Much has been said locally about Eugene not being responsive to the community’s needs. He is often late or a no-show to candidate forums, debates and events, and has personally stood up or canceled interviews with KCP on a number of occasions. Additionally, his office appears very disorganized.

That said, Eugene has a fairly solid record addressing immigrant and particularly Haitian immigrant concerns, and for all the talk his opponents bring out concerning affordable housing and business development, they pay only secondary mind to the fact the district remains largely Caribbean immigrants. Additionally, Eugene has done some good work for Kings County Hospital and the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, the district’s largest employer.

With three challengers vying for the anti-Eugene vote, the incumbent remains the favorite to win.

UPDATED: 41st District Covering most of Brownsville and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and East Flatbush

Henry Butler Photo by Kelly Mena
Alicka Ampry-Samuel

In something of a surprise, only two of a good number of candidates for this open seat received matching funds – Henry Butler ($95,095) and Alika Ampry-Samuel ($73,399).

Among the top-tier candidates that surprisingly didn’t get matching funds were East Flatbush Democratic District Leader Cory Provost, and dark horse candidate Diedre Olivera. While they may get matching funds on Aug. 17, this clearly puts Butler and Ampry-Samuel at the front of the pack.

Butler is as politically savvy and organized as they come. He is the president of the powerful Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA) club, understands the issues in the district and continually offers up a clear vision on how to address them.

Amry-Samuel is a born and raised Brownsville resident with Juris Doctorate from CUNY Law School and both the smarts and government experience to do the job in the city council. She also has the support of local Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, who represents much of the same district in Albany.

While Butler’s base of support is in Bedford-Stuyvesant – both the brownstone belt and a few of the NYCHA developments in that neighborhood, Ampry-Samuel has a strong base in Brownsville, which encompasses the center of the district.

One demographic that for now seems up for grabs is a small contingent of Jewish voters in Crown Heights.

This race could very well turn on the candidates GOVT (Get Out The Vote) operations come primary day.

42nd District covering Brownsville, Canarsie, East Flatbush, East New York, Howard Beach (Queens) and Jamaica Bay

City Council Member Inez Barron
Mawuli Hormeku

Of the two people in this race – incumbent City Councilmember Inez Barron and challenger Mawuli Hormeku – only Barron received matching funds and that was a relatively low $45,087.

Oddly, one of Barron’s ardent supporters is Kings County Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio. While Seddio and Inez Barron’s husband, Assemblymember Charles  Barron, have something of an acrimonious relationship, Seddio has long enjoyed a good relationship with Inez, and told KCP she is a very able lawmaker. Seddio noted, however, while he personally supports Inez Barron, the County Democratic organization stays neutral in all Democratic legislative party primaries.

Like Eugene in the 40th district, Barron is not very accessible to local media. She has not gotten back as of yet to KCP despite repeated phone calls and emails. Additionally, there isn’t much news on her coming from such media outlets EastNewYork.Com, BKReader and Our Time Press, all of which are black owned and give coverage to the 42nd District

Hormeku brings a lot of energy and young support, both in the district and beyond. His chances of winning were helped recently when female Democratic District Leader Nikki Lucas, who has the support of Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, dropped out of the race making this a two-person contest. He also insists he will get matching funds on Aug. 17

Hormeku is also one of the leading young political lions that is reenergizing central Brooklyn’s black communities in that he is highly educated and has decided to come back to the neighborhood where he grew up rather than spread his wings and leave the community for greener pastures. He also belives the best method of advancement for the district, which has a high poverty rate, is through education, ownership and entrepreneurship as opposed to the more liberal idea of social engineering.

While, Hormeku now has a 50/50 shot at winning the primary, the institutional odds favor Barron.

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