Despite the inclement weather earlier in the evening about 30 people joined city officials, braving the super windy and brisk night, to watch the Vice Presidential debate, between Republican Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Vice President Candidate Kamala Harris, live-streamed from the Old Stone House (OSH) at Washington Park on Wednesday, October 7.
The event was organized by Justin Krebs, who said he’s planning on running for the 39th city council district in 2021, and the Living Liberally grassroots organization. The evening also included light comedy from local comedians Negin Farsad, Ophira Eisenberg, and Jim Search, to warm the crowd up before the debates kicked off.
The largely empty and spacious astroturf field was not only outdoorsy, reminiscent of a drive-in movie theater, but apt for social distancing.
After the yoga class and skateboarders cleared out, attendees and a few stragglers filed in to get a space behind the large projector screen attached to the stone of the stoically old house that’s been a part of Brooklyn’s history since 1699. Kimberly Maier, Executive Director at OSH, said a big part of the organization is programming and preserving history, especially the Revolutionary War era. “It’s our backyard,” said Maier, about the community’s civic engagement on the historical site.
The crowd cheered and booed throughout the night at various standout moments from both candidates. “I think this is a very democratic, progressive crowd. But getting to watch it with other people means you get to react with them. Same as you would in a theater or in aplay, you get to feel that energy,” said Krebs about the atmosphere being almost cathartic during these COVID-19 times.
He said that Park Slope is an incredibly engaged district that has been showing strength and resiliency in community, whether that be food relief, schools, donations, or voting. “There’s so much this district can offer to the city as a whole,” said Krebs about why he’s running, “Our district has the capacity not only to lead for ourselves but others in exciting ways when we pull together.”
The debate itself was seen as largely successful and civil, in comparison to the presidential debate, with more explanation of policies and only one distracting hair faux pas on the part of Pence.
“I think the debate is showing off a lot of what people like about Kamala Harris and what we dislike about Mike Pence, but I don’t think it’s going to surprise a lot of folks and I don’t think it’s going to change a lot of minds,” said Krebs as he recapped the night.
Assemblymember Robert Carroll (D-Kensington, Windsor Terrace, Prospect Park, Park Slope, West Midwood) said this about the debates, “This is, I think we can all agree, the most consequential election of our lifetime. The fate of our country can be saved or we can go down a path I don’t know we can recover from.”
The Brooklyn Voter Alliance (BVA) passed out literature, encouraging people to register and participate with a voting plan. “New York City doesn’t have a registration problem, it has a participation problem,” said the BVA member.
A show of hands in the crowd confirmed that at least five out of the group there had in fact received faulty absentee ballots when the issue of last week’s misprints was raised.
“Will the votes in New York decide the Senate or the Presidential election? It’d be hard to imagine mathematically that’s the case. But, votes from New York will help contribute to the notion of a popular mandate,” said Krebs, who admitted that he had also received a wrong absentee ballot.
Regardless, Krebs and the BVA said that people needed to cast their ballots this November and vote early or in-person if it’s safe to do so.