On Tuesday, June 26, voters will hit the polls to vote in federal legislative primaries, choosing Democratic or Republican candidates for Senate (Republican only) and Congress. This year’s elections, however, are complicated by redistricting. Previously, most of Sheepshead Bites’ coverage area was part of the 9th Congressional District, currently represented by Bob Turner and, before him, Anthony Weiner. That district has now been eliminated and the area divided between three new district with incumbents many in the area may be unfamiliar with.

We’ve put together this pre-primary primer to help you understand the geographic and demographic changes within the district, as well as background information on incumbents, their primary challengers (if any), and challengers in November’s general elections.

Here’s a quick rundown on how to use this guide before Tuesday’s primary:

  1. Visit the New York City Board of Elections poll finder and enter your address. This will tell you what congressional district you’re in, where your poll site is, and provide sample ballots for the general election so you know who is running.
  2. Return back to this page.
  3. Use the following links to find the district profile we’ve put together, with bios and background on each of the candidates. Note that we’ve split up the district profiles between Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean, and the links below will direct you to the appropriate site.

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 8

Geographic changes

The new 8th District of New York is comprised of most of the former District 10 and a large part of the now eliminated District 9. This includes the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, East New York, the Flatlands, a large part of East Flatbush, and a small section of Midwood. However, the new 8th District now includes less of East Flatbush and Bedford-Stuyvesant, more of East New York, and no parts of Midwood. The district has also expanded in the southern direction, and now contains Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, and parts of Sheepshead Bay and Marine Park.

Ethnic and racial changes

District 8′s geographic changes have noticeably impacted the racial and ethnic composition of the district. The former District 10 was 58.7 percent black, 18.3 percent white, 17.2 percent Hispanic, 3.9 percent Asian, while the remaining 1.9 percent included individuals of other groups. The new 8th District is now 52.9 percent black, 22.4 percent white, 18 percent Hispanic, 4.8 percent Asian, and the other 1.9 percent still includes people of other groups. The two most obvious and significant demographic changes in this district are the decrease in the percentage of blacks and the increase of the percentage of whites. The increase in the percentage of white individuals in the district is likely due to the inclusion of Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods. The decrease in the percentage of blacks is most probably a result of the district’s loss of sections in East Flatbush, a predominantly black neighborhood. Although additional sections of East New York, which is also a neighborhood densely populated with black residents, were placed into this district, the white population in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Marine Park, in addition to the loss of parts of East Flatbush, have outweighed this gain. Therefore, the percent of blacks in this district has decreased by 5.8 percent, and the percent of whites increased by 4.1 percent. This demographic change will most likely have a perceptible impact on the upcoming elections.

Incumbent

Edolphus “Ed” Towns will not be running in the election, for he will be retiring after 30 years of serving the Brooklyn community as Congressional Representative of the former 10th District of New York. House.gov states that over his lengthy career, Towns has gathered millions of dollars for numerous projects in his district. He successfully brought in $20 million for local projects in 2010 alone. Towns served as Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the 111th Congress and examined of waste, fraud and abuse in government with great scrutiny. In the current 112th Congress, he is part of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

House.gov says that Towns is known as “the champion of children and youth,” for he believes that investment in the youth ensures a bright and successful future. He has also worked to advance the public healthcare and education systems, improve consumer protections, present openings for minority business development, and reduce chronic illnesses.

Towns is currently 77 years old, and will be ending his career as Congressman after serving 15 terms.

Primary competitors

Two Democratic candidates, Hakeem Jeffries and Charles Barron, are seeking to obtain Towns’ position, and represent the current 8th District of New York in Congress. They will compete against each other in the primaries next week.

Hakeem Jeffries, a native of central Brooklyn, has been a member of the New York State Assembly since January 2007. His campaign website says that he has worked to shield residents of New York from breaches of their rights by the police, assist former prisoners in rehabilitation, and reform the New York government in Albany. He exposed himself as a supporter of Israel, saying that Iran is a threat to all, and that the United States must support Israel if Israel feels there is a need to attack Iran.

Jeffries is a graduate if New York University Law School. After earning his law degree, he served as a legal clerk for Honorable Harold Baer Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Before he became a member of the New York Assembly, Jeffries worked at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP, a world renowned law firm, and then served as counsel in the litigation department of CBS.

Charles Barron has represented New York’s 42nd District on the New York City Council since 2001. According to his campaign website, while on the council, Barron has helped build more affordable housing than any other New York Council member. He is also the former chair of the Higher Education Committee. As chair, Barron triggered the re-establishment of over $10 million for students at the City University of New York colleges. In 2010, he was stripped of his chairmanship and booted from the committee due to his divisiveness, making him the only Democratic member of the Council without a chairmanship. He is also a former Black Panther activist, and joined Harlem’s chapter of the party in 1969. [Clarified]

Several politicians, including Mayor Ed Koch and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, have accused Barron of being an anti-Semite, and an enemy of the state of Israel. Tablet Magazine stated that while on the council, Barron has “defended Hamas, and identified former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi and current Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe as his political heroes.” In 2002, Barron had organized a City Hall reception for Mugabe, and attempted the same for Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

General election challengers

Alan Bellone is a Republican and Conservative businessman running for Congress for the first time. Bellone’s campaign website states that he worked in technology in the 1980s. He was first employed by Wang Laboratories, where he oversaw the work of the sales representatives. He was then a technology consultant for companies including NYNEX, and Grumman and Barclay’s Bank. In the 90s, Bellone began his venture into the corporate world when he began to work for Natwest Bank. In 2003, he partnered with a friend in a silk screen printing and embroidery business.  When the business struggled, Bellone’s partner decided to move to another state, leaving Bellone to become the sole  owner of the company, which he transformed and expanded from a home business, to a storefront, and soon to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. [Full disclosure: Sheepshead Bites has been a client of Bellone's in the past.]

Although Bellone has no political experience, in November 2010, Bellone ran to represent New York’s 41st District in the New York State Assembly. He was defeated by the incumbent, Democrat Helene Weinstein.

Colin Beavan, a passionate environmentalist and author, joins the race as a member of the Green Party. This is his first venture into the political arena. Beavan is the author of NoImpactMan.com, an award-winning blog which discusses how individuals can help improve the environmental crisis. He also published the book No Impact Man, in which he discusses his family’s year-long experiment, in which they did not use electricity or paper products. That means no toilet paper, washing machines or ovens for an entire year. Beaven has since been running the No Impact Project, an effort to mobilize citizens and persuade them to live in an eco-friendly manner.

 

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 9

Geographic changes

The current 9th District of New York includes most of the former District 11, which was comprised of Park Slope, Crown Heights, the western section of Boro Park, the north-western part of Midwood, as well as the eastern sector of East Flatbush. However, the 9th District now encompasses slightly less of east Midwood, more of southern Midwood, less of Borough Park, and some more of East New York. Also in District 9 is the neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay, which was part of the old 9th District as well.

Ethnic and racial changes

District 9′s geographic changes introduce new demographic changes, which can impact the impending elections. The former District 11 was 53.5 percent black, 25.6 percent white, 13.2 percent Hispanic, 5.9 percent Asian, while the remaining 1.8 percent included individuals of other groups. The new 9th District is now 51.2 percent black, 29.7 percent white, 11.3 percent Hispanic, 6.2 percent Asian, and the other 1.6 percent includes people of other groups. The increase in the percentage of white individuals in the district is likely due to the inclusion of Sheepshead Bay and more parts of Midwood into the district. Although additional sections of East Flatbush, a predominantly black and minority neighborhood, were placed into this district, the white population in Sheepshead Bay and Midwood have outweighed this addition. Therefore, the percent of blacks in this district has decreased by 2.3 percent, and the percent of Hispanics decreased by 1.9 percent.

Incumbent

The incumbent congressman running to represent District 9 is Yvette Clarke, a Democrat, who has represented the former District 11 since 2006. According to her campaign website, Clarke is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, and was born and raised in Brooklyn. Before becoming a Congresswoman, Clarke represented the 40th District of Brooklyn on the New York City Council. While on the council, Clarke was known for her advocacy for the rights of women and minorities. As co-chair of the New York Council’s Women’s Caucus, Clarke obtained $9.5 million to fund organizations which promoted domestic violence prevention, breast cancer awareness,  and helped provide housing and AIDS counseling for women.

Since her election, Clarke has been recognized as a sponsor of laws pertaining to affordable housing, reducing the cost of college, immigration reform, increasing the opportunities for small businesses, and strengthening the American workforce. Clarke is part of the Education and Labor, Small Business, and Homeland Security committees.

According to the Village Voice, Clarke still has not paid off her student loans, despite the fact that she was making $90,000 a year while on the council.

Primary challenger

On June 26, Clarke will compete against Democrat Sylvia G. Kinard in the New York Congressional primaries.

Kinard joins the race with much community involvement and political experience under her belt. She has served as Vice President for Community School Board 13, and was the Director of Women’s Ministries at a local church. Kinard has served as a senior legislative attorney for the New York City Council, and Deputy Counsel for the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. She was also a member of the New York Women for Obama Committee in 2008.

If elected, Kinard hopes to improve public education, transportation, and help promote local business growth in the district.

Locally, she feels that these issues are of top priority. As a member of Congress, Kinard hopes to be a vocal advocate for the development of alternative energy. She will support policies that reverse the trend of out-sourcing and encourage companies to relocate their manufacturing plants back to the United States. She will also encourage plans to make American businesses competitive internationally and work to level the global playing field.

“We cannot allow the American economy to lag behind other economies,” Kinard told Sheepshead Bites in a survey sent out to congressional candidates*.

Kinard feels that her desire to work together on the issues that unite the 9th District and create a “better Brooklyn for all,” in addition to the skills she possesses to help people from different backgrounds work together to achieve common goals, makes her the best candidate to solve the issues the district faces.

General election challengers

The victor of the primaries will be challenged by Vivia Morgan of the Green Party, and Daniel Cavanagh of the Republican Party. 

According to ourcampaigns.com, Morgan works in the entertainment industry. She first worked as an assistant manager of culture at Tone Records. She then obtained the position of assistant director of special events at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Morgan also worked as an aid in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office of Film, and then became host of “The Vivia Morgan Show,” which discussed Caribbean art and music, and their influence on American culture. Morgan is a member of Local Union 79 and an active board member of the organization Fight Back, which puts unemployed construction workers to work.

Cavanagh, carrying the Republican and Conservative lines, has served as a special assistant to New York State Senator Marty Golden since 2002. He has been involved in the local community from the age of 13, with the Gerritsen Beach Teen Organization. Cavanagh is the father of GerritsenBeach.net blogger Daniel Cavanagh, Jr.

If elected, Cavanagh hopes to help the district come together to fight crime, and improve job opportunities. With respect to national and international issues, Cavanagh feels it is important to ensure that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid exist in the future. He also wishes to help balance the American budget, and fight terrorism.

“We must balance the budget first, and then bring America back to the top to become a world leader again,” Cavanagh said in his survey response.

*Sheepshead Bites sent out a brief four-question survey to all congressional candidates mentioned in the article above. Sylvia Kinard and Daniel Cavanagh were the only candidates to respond. Information about other candidates was cobbled together from various online sources linked within the post. If a candidate’s information seems lacking, it is because there is little public information available, and they did not return the survey.

Acknowledgements: Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean would like to express our enormous gratitude to the following news outlets and online resources,  which formed the basis of our research:

Clarified (6/23/2012 @ 11:23 a.m.): We have added clarification to the section regarding Charles Barron, noting that he was stripped of all committee chairmanships in the City Council.

 

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  • Dan

    Looking at the map part of Sheepshead Bay could be represented by Congressman Charles Barron. That will make even some extreme liberals pine for the good old days of Bob Turner.

    • levp

      If I have to choose between Mr. Barron and an average Republican, I’d rather vote for Barron.  So there.

      EDIT: Upon further research, Green Party candidates look very nice, actually.

      • Dan

        One of the automaton voters chimes in to highlight the lack of diversity and openmindedness from the party that pretends to have a monopoly on both. 

        • levp

          Diversity in a political party does not mean that Democratic Party should start running Republicans (or someone with Republican ideas).

          Similarly,
          “If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out” (Tim Minchin)

          Also, you are forgetting my notes on the third party candidates (in this case, Green Party).

      • Jewish Voter

        typical liberal anti semite.

        • levp

          Typical Internet troll.

      • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

        “If I have to choose between Mr. Barron and an average Republican, I’d rather vote for Barron. So there.”

           I hope the readers remember this statement when they henceforth read subsequent posts. At least it’s been made crystal clear indeed how way out certain factions are.

           People shouldn’t insult this poster. Some of them proclaim to be voices of moderation, and it’s  really deceptive. They’d like nothing better to bring down the whole system and replace it with…..well, i’m not sure.  Others claim to be a voice of conservative moderation, but might be closet racists.

            At least this one has “come out of the closet”, so to speak. He feels the way he does, and that’s cool, at least it’s known.

        • levp

          I was never really “in the closet” – if one reads my previous comments, they would see that I consistently position myself as a liberal Democrat, and proudly so.

          I think everyone should be able to be “out of the closet”, regardless of whether this closet is used to hide gender, sexual, political or religious orientation.

          • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

            Agreed!

          • levp

            If I would start counting what’s troubling me about today’s Republicans, we would run out of space on Ned’s server.

          • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

            I thought he’d run out on the Storobin-Fiedler business…. I can’t blame you sometimes, when the Republicans get into the social issues, I’m none too happy muhself, pardner.

        • Kool4Coney

          Bruce B you really have a problem with your version of some LEFT you percieve is out to get you and remove all YOUR rights…   snap out of it kiddo… its really all in YOUR head.

  • Nowaynohow

    Gerrymandering at its finest. Aldridge Gerry would be proud.They connected every housing project and welfare recipient for Congressional District 8. Going to be hilarious watching Manhattan Beach Jews forced to vote for Charles Barron who wants to kill them.

    • levp

      Instead, they should have created a “super-Jewish” district!  Where have I heard this before?

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

         Not just a super-Jewish district. A Super-Duper-Jewish Congressional district.

    • BMB

      Gerrymandering implies a legislature creating strangely shaped districts for partisan political gain. But these Congressional lines were a) drawn and approved impartially by Federal Judges and not by the State legislature; and b) the Judges (and anyone else drawing such a map) were required to comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act (which prevents NY from eliminating what was previously a majority minority district). 

      If you go back in the newspaper archives you’ll find that there were actually complaints from some in the African-American community about the reduction in percentage of black voters in the redrawn district. But since a) Brooklyn’s African-American population decreased (percentage wise) and b) the redrawn district had to contain more people than the previous district (since NYS lost 2 congressional districts in the census), the Judges were forced to try and connect otherwise dispersed communities to create the district. Them’s the demographic breaks.

    • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

      Point well taken. If Barron wins the primary, what do the Jews of the neighborhood do? But this is not a new dilemma. The left has turned against Israel in general, so it will be an increasingly difficult decision for the Jewish vote.

      • Kool4Coney

        Bruce B… 

        1) define YOUR use of the word “LEFT” please

        2) validate your claim that (whatever you mean by the left) has ‘turned on Israel”  whatever THAT means

        because it sure sounds like meaningless claptrap to me and I am a Liberal Democrat and an Israel supporting Jew !

        sheeeesh.

    • Arlene Herring

      Why can’t those people vote for Jeffries? What do you mean, ‘forced’? 

    • Kool4Coney

      I don’t find it hilarious!  I just now realized I am voting to replace Jerry Nadler as my Congressman, Nadler has represented me like forever and I was quite satisfied with his representation but NOW I have to choose between 2 people I don’t feel will represent me as well.   this is the craziest redistricting I have ever seen.  now NO ONE will be properly represented and this district will be in total discord whoever wins.  but I do now realize WHY I have been flooded (literally) with mail pieces and robo calls.   my choice went from a known Progressive to (what I think is) a party man vs a nutcase (you can figure out who is who for yourselves)  Sheeesh, I almost feel like NOT going to vote… operative word ALMOST.

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    The 9th district primary has been so under the radar that I have no idea who I should be voting for

    • Sylviakinard2012

      Dear Lisanne,

      I hope you will consider voting for me on June 26.  Please review my comments above and also on  www.electsylviakinard2012.com and join us as we seek to make Brooklyn better for everyone.  Best regards,  Sylvia Kinard – Candidate – 9th Congressional District

      • HomecrestHarry

        Incomprehensible, utter insanity.

        • levp

          Care to itemize your negative opinion?

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  • Alan Bellone

    To all constituents in the 8th congressional district, my name is Alan Bellone and I would be privlaged to represent all of you in Congress.  I am still waiting, as are all of you, to see who my opponent will be in the upcoming election.  I only ask for a chance:  a chance for you to hear me, a chance to for you to understand my beliefs, and, in return, a chance for me to make a change for you.  If we all go in with open minds, then I am sure you will pick who you believe will be the best candidate to represent you.
    On another note, I did not recieve the questionarre sent out by Sheepsheadbites, but I have notified them that I would be more than happy to answer any questions they had.  I would also like to send out an open invitation to any community group or organization that would like to have me there for a question and answer session.  I would be honored to do that with you.  You can contact me at http://www.belloneforcongress2012.com.
    Thank you all and God Bless America.
    P.S.  Happy Birthday Sheepsheadbites.com

  • Kool4Coney

    is the neighborhood that was once known as ‘the GUT’ which is made up of trump, warbasse and other hi rise housing now in district 8?  it is not clear from that map what part of the hi rise area is now in district 8 BUT I assume, from all the mail and robo calls I am getting from Jeffries and democratic supporters of jefferies that I now reside in that highly contested district and need to make sure to go vote tomorrow

    • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

      Visit the New York City Board of Elections poll finder (http://gis.nyc.gov/vote/ps/index.htm) and enter your address. This will tell you what congressional district you’re in, where your poll site is, and provide sample ballots for the general election so you know who is running.

      • nolastname

        I looked earlier and could not see if I was district 8 or 9 from the map. When I used the link I did get my polling place. Did I look wrong?

        • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

          After you put your address in and hit submit, you’ll see on the page you end up on that there are three columns. The top of the middle column (which is offset to the right, since the left column is bigger than the others) there is a section at the top that says “Political Districts.” It gives all the district numbers, for state senate, assembly, etc. The third one down is “Congress.” That’s your congressional district.

      • Kool4Coney

        thanks NED,  did what you suggested and learned that I am now in this new gerrymandered district :(  and will no longer be represented by Jerry Nadler.  not a happy camper about this change

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  • Arlene Herring

    District 9 still is called district 9 on the BoE polling site — but should we refer to ourselves by another district no? ( re Clarke v Kinard).

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  • Laramy

    I am so mad, I am losing Bob Turner as a rep and getting a choice between Dem Yvette Clarke, and Republican Party hack Daniel Cavanagh >.< I will be leaving my US Representative slot blank on my ballot.

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