At a time when Democrats in the city are leapfrogging each other to run left of California, Brandon Patterson is showing the importance of being a pragmatic Democrat.
Patterson is running for the vacant 64th District Assembly seat next year covering Bay Ridge and State Island as current Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is stepping down to challenge U.S. Rep Max Rose (D-Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island).
“Every day when I knock on doors campaigning, I ask people when you wake up and what bothers. I want to know whether it’s the high cost of living or the bus driver or the teacher having troubles getting to and from work, how I can work to make things better for them,” said Patterson, over beers and fajitas at Mi Tierra Restaurant on 3rd Avenue and 72nd Street in Bay Ridge.
Patterson is about as Staten Islander as one can be. The Yankee die-hard was raised in a hard-working and union middle class family, where his dad was a public school teacher.
A product of New York’s public school systems, Patterson has his Bachelors in Political Science from SUNY Albany and his Masters in Public Administration from Baruch, Patterson has cut his political teeth working for State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Coney Island, Sunset Park, Staten Island) – first as a community liaison and currently as her deputy chief of staff.
“I’m someone who knows how government works–someone who doesn’t need a learners permit to move this car. I know I’ll be able to do that because I’ve got the experience and ability to work with others in government and across the aisle to get things done,” said Petterson.
When elected, Patterson wants to front-burner transportation and helping small business.
“No matter what side of the bridge you’re on, commuting to and from work can be a nightmare. We need to improve our transportation infrastructure while working to create jobs here in the district so the need to travel so far is minimized,” said Patterson.
“We have small businesses that are forced to pay outrageous credit card fees and government agencies that are overburdening them day in and out. I’ll work to help them cut through the red tape and allow them to thrive in our communities,” he added.
Another issue that Patterson sees when knocking on doors is some disconnect and misunderstanding regarding the State DREAM Act, which opens the doors of higher education to thousands of undocumented students, providing access to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), as well as other state‐administered scholarships that were not previously available to them.
Patterson said the answer is to expand the Excelsior Scholarship, which currently allows student free tuition at CUNY and SUNY schools provided their families earn $125,000 or less annually, provided they stay in New York to work after they graduate for the length of scholarship time they took going to school.
“It’s getting harder and harder for families to find access to the resources required for their kids to continue their education. We need to expand the Excelsior Scholarship and ensure college affordability for the next generation. And to keep people here in New York, we need to build jobs locally to ensure that we can continue to have thriving small businesses and financial opportunities on both sides of the bridge. Whatever their job, we will get them to work quicker,” said Petterson.
While Patterson shows a good grasp of the issues in the district, he will be in a dogfight. The seat is currently the only one left in Brooklyn in Republican hands and only a sliver – about 28 percent – is in Bay Ridge.
Thus far, former Richmond County Assistant District Attorney Michael Tannousis and Marko Kepi, who worked for former State Sen. Marty Golden, will run in next year’s primary. The general election is slated for November 2020.
Stephen Witt is an award-winning journalist who has covered New York City since 2001. This includes stints as a staff reporter for Courier-Life/News Corp, and Our Time Press in Central Brooklyn and as founder/owner of Kings County Politics. His stories have also appeared in City & State, The Village Voice and City Limits among other media outlets.