At just 26-years-old, Hercules Reid, is the youngest candidate in the special election to fill the vacant 45th City Council District seat covering Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, Midwood and Canarsie.
Reid believes his entrance into the race wasn’t a choice, but something fated to him after years of hardship and personal experience at the hands of unexpected shortcomings that have made him want to serve others.
“I first got involved in politics in college. I did that only because it was an opportunity to get involved and see what was going on on campus. I liked being able to be involved in the changes going on and giving back to the community. But most importantly I liked making a difference,” said Reid, who was born in upstate New York to Jamaican parents and grew up in Sullivan County.
Reid first caught the politics bug when he was elected freshman class vice president at Delaware State University. However, Reid’s time at Delaware State ended abruptly in 2012, when in his sophomore year, he was forced to come back to New York to finish out his schooling due to the university’s high tuition cost.
“I came to CUNY because I couldn’t afford out of state tuition anymore. As I was taken on my journey to City Tech, I decided to run for student government president (SGP), to see if I could continue doing the work of serving the people and making a change,” said Reid.
However, while Reid was campaigning to get back onto student government at City Tech, he suffered a major traffic collision while riding his bike in Greenpoint in April 2015. The incident left him feeling lucky to be alive and also made him realize he had a larger purpose in life.
The injuries from the bile crash left Reid with a deep laceration to his right leg and severe inflammation to his knee caps, leaving him bedridden for two weeks, and then for several months getting a crash course in being a handicapped commuter.
“At the time I was still living at home with my family who was still living in Teaneck, New Jersey, so I actually had to commute back and forth on the train with a cane. It was horrible having to walk up and down steps was the hardest part. Knowing that every train station was not ADA accessible was difficult. One of the things I had to start doing was leaving two hours early just so I could take my time getting to class” remarked Reid.
Reid would eventually win his bid to become SGP in 2015 but the elected office would test his commitment to serve the local community.
“During my time in college, especially starting at City Tech starting in 2102, I was what you consider invisibly homeless. I was not consistently working to be able to afford my own rent, so the next best thing was my parents’ house in Teaneck. But of course traveling from Teaneck to Downtown Brooklyn had its wear and tear,” said Reid.
Reid explained that throughout his time at City Tech, the commuting travel difficulties he had would cause him to sleep at the bus station or crash on a friends couch for months at a time.
“It was just really unpredictable moments, where it was like,” Dang, now what?’”, said Reid.
Reid served two years, until 2017 as SGP and didn’t actually get full-time permanent housing until after he graduated, when he was offered a position as Legislative Director of the University Student Senate at City Tech.
“That’s when I got my first real job, and could actually think about the possibilities of actually affording rent in Brooklyn. Somewhere I wanted to live my whole, life but could never afford it,” said Reid, who eventually found an apartment in the 45th City Council District.
“Once I got an apartment, it automatically became my home, the place I love. So I thought, why not transition all of that energy and passion I have for change and serve my local community, where now I actually live and make it a better place,” he added.
Reid’s top priorities include housing, transportation, handicap accessibility and education, all issues that are close to the candidate’s heart who has had to overcome so many obstacles.
The local is aware that running for office for the first time without any establishment backing is a risk, but he feels up to the challenge.
“I knew that if I was going to do this, I would need to gain some form of momentum because that what I was trying to do was unorthodox [politically], and not the way the system was made. I wasn’t sitting on the local community board for three or four years. I wasn’t living in this district my whole life. I wasn’t working for any particular elected officials, and I wasn’t ready to receive an endorsement by any particular elected officials. But I never wanted to live a life where I wasn’t being courageous about what I knew and what I was capable of, ” said Reid.
“To me, this isn’t about taking an opportunity for someone else. This is a straight campaign, straight grassroots. This campaign is for the people and about the people. Those are the very same people that I am going to continue working for,” concluded Reid.
The special election for the 45th Council District is set for May 14.