The race to replace Michael Nelson as councilmember for the 48th District is about impossible to predict as the Powerball, but prognosticators have speculated that the issue of securing a “safety net” for the district’s poor and sick might be a major factor. An article in the Jewish Week is reporting that the safety net issue is a top priority for the Jewish community in the district.
Most of the analysis found in the Jewish Week’s report is nothing new, squaring in on the back and forth between Ari Kagan and David Storobin, the name-flap controversy between Kagan and Chaim Deutsch and the all around squabbling that has taken place between all of the candidates.
One interesting new talking point was brought forward by Josh Mehlman, the founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. Mehlman suggested that while the recent district split has empowered Russian voters over the traditionally Jewish dominated voting bloc, many Russians and Jews will be united by their community’s need for government assistance:
“The district split was an intentional misuse of power to attempt to divide our strength at the polls,” said Josh Mehlman, a founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. The neighborhood contains many upper middle class or wealthy homes but also a large concentration of Russians and senior citizens who require assistance. Thirty-nine percent of the Jewish households in the Coney Island/Brighton Beach/Sheepshead Bay area have incomes at the federally defined poor or near-poor levels, according to the Special Report on Poverty of UJA-Federation’s 2011 Jewish Community Study; the figure for the Flatbush/Midwood/Kensington area is 30 percent.
Yet public assistance is an issue that hasn’t really come up much in the debates, and the article itself doesn’t report the candidates’ views. Where do you think they stand, and where do you want them to stand?