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Forum tonight for 35th Council candidates; potential Atlantic Yards questions include failure to reform governance and hire independent compliance monitor

The candidates hoping to succeed Letitia James (who's running for Public Advocate) as 35th District Council Member will meet at 7 pm tonight in a moderated forum at P.S. 9, 80 Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights. The district includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, and pieces of Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy.

The candidates include former District Leader Olanike Alabi, museum founder Laurie Cumbo, longtime Council aide Ede Fox, attorney F. Richard Hurley, and community organizer Jelani Mashariki. (Here's an analysis of the race as of April from the Brooklyn Rail's Ted Hamm.)

As noted below, questions regarding Atlantic Yards could show whether the candidates are willing to criticize the failure of the state to reform governance of the project and the failure of developer Forest City Ratner to hire the independent compliance monitor promised under the Community Benefits Agreement.

(I raised similar issues in a post last month.)

Early fundraising lead

In terms of early fundraising and endorsements, Cumbo has the jump on rivals, though the campaign  also will hinge on street-level campaigning and the lift most candidates will get from the city's program of matching funds. The program will match each dollar a New York City resident gives up to $175 with $6 in public funds, for a maximum of $1,050 per contributor. The maximum in matching funds is $92,400.

So far, Alabi, who started her campaign only recently, has raised $31,202 and spent only $239. Cumbo has raised $89,207 and spent $32,699. Fox has raised $62,623 and spent $37,152. Hurley has raised $5,466 and spent $1,338.  Mashariki has raised $34,040 and spent $22,400.

As far as I know, Jesse Hamilton, who was invited to the forum, has left the race. (He wasn't at the most recent forum.) He has raised $16,060 and spent $5,298.

The sponsors of the forum are Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, Crow Hill Association, Crown Heights North Association. The moderator is Mark Winston Griffith, Executive Director, Brooklyn Movement Center

The issues

As stated in the preview, the "next Councilmember will be challenged to balance the concerns of current residents on housing, education and policing, with the demands of a rapidly growing population of new arrivals."

Residents and business owners of Crow Hill, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights were encouraged to submit questions for the forum online using Google Moderator. The questions are grouped:
  • Business and jobs
  • Development
  • Safety and security
  • Transportation
  • Education
  • Social services
  • Infrastructure
  • Open space
  • Quality of Life
Atlantic Yards questions

Among the questions submitted regarding Atlantic Yards:
  • "Are you satisfied with the benefits the public has received from the Atlantic Yards project? If not, what needs to change to make the project accountable to the public?"
  • "Do you believe Atlantic Yards’ project governance should be reformed? If so, what priority with any reforms will it be for you that construction oversight is consistently accountable?"
  • "Are you disturbed that Forest City Ratner has not met its commitment to the community to hire an independent compliance monitor for Atlantic Yards to oversee jobs, housing and environmental impacts for Atlantic Yards?"

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