UPDATED: Yoni Hikind Grassroots Movement Grows With Nearly 4,000 Petition Signatures

Yoni Hikind

If City Councilman David Greenfield’s hand-picked candidate to replace him, Kalman Yeger, thinks it’s going to be a walk through the park to become the new 44th District city Councilman, he best be looking over his shoulder at Yoni Hikind.

Yoni Hikind

Hikind, the son of Assembyman Dov Hikind, announced yesterday some 4,000 members of the community signed petitions to get him on the ballot as the “Our Neighborhood” party candidate. The district includes Borough Park and parts of Midwood, Kensington and Bensonhurst.

“We only needed 450 community members to validate Yoni’s candidacy—this is an overwhelming show of support,” said Israel Bitton, Hikind’s campaign manager. “Because we were surprised by the opportunity, we had limited time to plan. But the community knows Yoni, knows what he’s done and will endeavor to do if elected. We were expecting a strong showing, but these numbers—and the number of volunteers who are offering to help—is amazing.”

“From the moment I launched this campaign, I saw this process as a job interview,” said Hikind. “I’m overwhelmed and humbled by the positive initial response from so many of my potential employers, and I look forward to continuing making the case for why I’m the best fit to do, and ultimately be hired for, the job. I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive thus far.”

Hikind decided to run and created the party after Greenfield announced he was resigning from the office a little more than a month ago to head the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council). As he was the only person to hand in Democratic Party petitions at the deadline, election law allowed him to hand-pick Yeger through the Committee on Vacancies, which he controlled.

Kalman Yeger

This touched off a storm of criticism of Greenfield for following the letter but not the spirit of Democracy.

Among those in the district who didn’t like the way Yeger was picked were Democratic District Leaders Sharon Fuchs and David Schwartz, both of whom are now actively supporting Hikind. The other side of this is Assemblyman Dov Hikind handpicked picked Schwartz to become the Democratic district leader much the same way Greenfield picked Yeger, through a loophole in the election law.

“It is common practice for staunch democrats in Brooklyn, when the routine process of nominating candidates is short-circuited, to form and run on third-party lines. Our Public Advocate with impeccable Democratic credentials, Tish James, won her council seat through a third-party, as did our Councilman David Greenfield. Hence, I’m following good tradition with helping forming a third-party to give district residents a say in who will be their next Councilman,” said Schwartz.

City Councilman David Greenfield

A graduate of Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler’s School of Social Work, Hikind has spent more than a decade as a social worker and therapist, aiding individuals in desperate circumstances, and counseling them with love and devotion. He was involved in leading a school for disadvantaged youth, helping them establish healthy and productive lives.

His work in helping at-risk youth could become a bigger issue in the district. A recent KCP story on the tragic overdose death of Malky Klein has drawn over 10,000 views and counting.

Heroin and opioid abuse is growing in every community, including the more ethnically diverse Bensonhurst,  Midwood and Kensington portions of the district, as well as in the frum (yiddish for pious) Jewish community of Borough Park.

While some in the frum community, such as Civil Court Judge Ruchie Freier, and Malky Klein’s parents, has been trying to do some reform in educating Yeshivas, religious girls schools and the community-at-large to not castigate young people labeled as off the derech (OTD- people who veer away from strict religious Jewish orthodoxy), the subject remains highly controversial.

Following, the KCP’s story on Malky Klein, KCP asked both Yeger and Hikind, that as city council members, how would they address the issue of drug addiction in their district. Both failed to return multiple phone calls, texts and emails on the subject.

More from Around New York