Candidates for Public Advocate Discuss Nomination at IND Panel

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The race for Public Advocate continued last night at Saint Francis College in Downtown Brooklyn as over 20 members of the Independent Neighborhood Democrats (IND) voiced their concerns to candidates running for Public Advocate in an open forum.

The IND represents New York City’s 52nd assembly district, which includes portions of Brooklyn Heights, Gowanus,  Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Prospect Heights, DUMBO and Vinegar Hill.

Among the public advocate candidates that showed up for the forum included Dawn Smalls, Daniel O’Donnell, David Eisenbach and Ben Yee.

Also in attendance was Kings County surrogate Judge Margarita Lopez Torres and Assembly member Jo Anne Simon,

“I would fight for anyone on the side of right. I’m running for public advocate because I’ve been a public advocate my whole life,” said O’Donnell. “All I ever do is advocate on behalf of poor people, on behalf of the LGBTQ community, whatever community needed to be fought for.”

The major issues addressed by and for the panelists were the effects of the Amazon Deal in Long Island City, the Brooklyn Promenade, the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) reconstruction and affordable housing.

Jo Anne Simon
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon

Simon spoke about Promenade/BQE issue, “The DOT has two plans that they are proposing, people are focusing on one, which they find to be pre-horrific, but there is another plan that they have proposed. It is also not terrific because it will cause many back-ups for miles and miles and you are kidding yourselves if you think the trucks won’t get off of those roads and come to the neighborhoods,” said Simon.

“So we have to look at those impacts very broadly. When they issued the scope one of the questions I asked was to keep looking more broadly because once you block off traffic people go this way and then they go up. They’ll be coming up Fourth Avenue and we have sacrificed too many children along Fourth Avenue to tractor-trailers,” she added.

Repairs for the BQE aren’t set to start until 2026 with two plans proposals, which include an elevated lane on the Promenade or lane-by-lane closure.

Eisenbach, a History professor at Columbia University, is fighting for small businesses alongside Speaker of the NYC Council, Corey Johnson, as they’re re-introducing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA). The bill would give commercial tenants three specific rights, which include a minimum 10-year lease with the right to renewal, equal negotiation terms when it comes time to renew their lease and restrictions to prevent landlords from passing their property taxes onto small business owners.

“The City Council has sold out to big real estate, we are rezoning of affordable neighborhoods and their building luxury towers with just a tiny percentage of affordable,” said Eisenbach. “And let me tell you most of these apartments that they’re building in these neighborhoods are not affordable to people in the neighborhoods.”

Voting for NYC Public Advocate special election will be on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

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