By David Mark Greaves
The people who are pushing through the voter suppression laws, folks like the American Legislative Exchange Council, would gain a great sense of satisfaction at how African-Americans in Central Brooklyn self-suppress their own vote, as if to say, “No cracker is going to suppress my vote! I’ll stay home by my own damn self!” But for those of us who are arcing toward sanity, who know it is not only what we owe to those who have shed blood giving us this right, but it is a statement on what we want for future generations. The excuse that there is no point in voting because, “Nothing ever changes,” does not work, because the reason nothing changes is because you don’t vote.
The voting records for the last mayoral election shows what that means. In ED 48-068 at Fort Hamilton Parkway and 54th Street, comprising about 78 2-story buildings and 2 six-story senior residences, there were 811 votes for Michael Bloomberg and 310 votes for Bill Thompson. In ED 56-068 encompassing Jefferson Avenue to Macon Street and Malcom X to Patchen Avenue, with about 183 brownstones and one 4-story and one 3-story multiple-family dwellings, there were only 139 votes for Thompson and 18 for Bloomberg. Bloomberg voters came out, their man went in and the priorities of the city remained concrete and land. Thompson voters stayed home with other things to do. And if any of them are among those who fill auditoriums because their children are impacted by school co-locations and the policy of stop-and frisk, well then, they got the mayor they deserved. Hopefully, a lesson has been learned and they are going to correct that by reminding a neighbor to vote on Tuesday, September 10th. And if you don’t think voting means anything, vote for John Liu and watch things change.
This time around, African-Americans are having their heartstrings plucked at by the media to vote for Bill de DeBlasio, essentially because his wife is black and his son has an admirable Afro. These are facts, but they are not qualifications for mayor of New York. For that job you need someone with a vision of the future city and a track record and the economic skills to make that vision real. That is why the best candidate this time is John Liu. As comptroller, he has used his skills to save the city billions of dollars, and done it at the expense of the financial industry. They are not happy about that, want no more of it and are working mightily to see that John Liu is not in any runoff.
We keep harping on the fact that only 11% of eligible voters came out in the last primary because we find the figure both appalling and heartbreaking. This election is an opportunity for the 89% of eligible voters of all ethnicities who did not vote the last time around to use this one as therapy, repentance and to put us on the road to a people-centered city by voting for John Liu for mayor. And as for the polls, they only matter if business goes on as usual and the faithfully “unlikely voters” don’t come out.
But if some make sure that everyone in their household, on their floor, in the building, and for the ambitious, up down and around the block, then the polls don’t matter at all. And if the power of digital technology and social media are brought to bear then it will be a very interesting election. So on Tuesday, September 10th grab them or text them and say, “Let’s change this city. Let’s go vote for John C. Liu!”
In the 36th District to succeed Al Vann, the district has a choice between three exceptional candidates, District Leader Robert Cornegy, Rev. Conrad Tillard of Nazarene Congregational United Church of Christ, and Rev. Robert Waterman, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church. There has been some scurrilous material circulated in the community by outside special interests seeking to discredit the three of them and the best way to confront that evil is to come out and vote in furious numbers for any one of these three community-centered men. This council race deserves to have the highest total increase of people coming out to the polls.
In the 41st City Council District, longtime community activist and educator Stan Kinard gets the call because Stanley has been a visionary leader in the Central Brooklyn community for over 3 decades. It was Kinard who led the delegation that brought Frank Mickens to Boys & Girls H.S. as its principal. He led the coalition to stabilize Bed-Stuy’s gifted and talented P.S./I.S. 308 and played an important role in the fight to stop Edison from privatizing 5 community schools. As founder and Executive Director of the Woodson Cultural Literacy Project, he has focused on the teaching of African-American history and culture. Kinard’s vision for the community includes using education and art to create an economic and cultural renaissance in Central Brooklyn. In the 41st District, you want to pull the lever for Stan Kinard, a man from the community.