District 46 Southeast Brooklyn

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What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a guide to the political races in what many are calling New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history.

What is so significant about it?
For the first time in memory, most political offices in the city will be wide open to people who have neither money nor connections.

Why will the races be so open?
There are two reasons. This year, a new law goes into effect that limits the terms of New York City elected officials, forcing the mass retirement of most incumbents in the city - including the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, four of the five borough presidents, and 36 of the 51 members of the City Council. At the same time, a new campaign finance law kicks in, which allows any candidate who agrees to certain restrictions to collect four dollars of matching funds for every dollar they raise.

What does this have to do with this site?
As a public service, Searchlight on Campaign 2001 has a separate page for each race, including all the races for City Council, that not only sorts out the candidates -- many of them new and unfamiliar -- but also offers an opportunity to learn about the issues, and the districts themselves.

Who is behind Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a project of Gotham Gazette, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological (but non-boring) web site about New York City news, policy and politics published by Citizens Union Foundation, part of the oldest and largest good-government group in the city (founded in 1897).

What's wrong with the way the regular press covers the races?
That is for you to decide. And one of our regular features, Campaign Trail, helps you to decide. Campaign Trail provides succinct summaries and links to campaign articles in the commercial press.

Who are we?


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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002

General Election Results

x-Lewis A. Fidler, Dem 16,821 - 65 percent
Carmine Evangelista, Rep 6,181 - 24 percent
Doreen A. Greenwood, Con 1,925 - 7 percent
Phyllis Taliaferro, Ind 556 - 2 percent
Elias J. Weir, Lib 316 - 1 percent

Primary Election Results

Lewis A. Fidler 6,030
Abraham Levy 3,349
Doreen A. Greenwood 3,086
Elizabeth Atwood-King 2,317
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Herbert E. Berman (can't run in 2001)

The Candidates:

  • Carmine Evangelista (Rep)
  • Lew Fidler (Dem)
  • Doreen Greenwood (Con)
  • Phyllis Taliaferro (Ind)
  • Elias J. Weir (Lib)

Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign Finance Board:

Carmine Evangelista did not file
Contributors to Lewis Fidler
Contributors to Doreen Greenwood
Contributors to Abraham Levy
Contributors to Phyllis Taliaferro
Contributors to Elias J. Weir

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 46

Campaign Tangle:
Democratic candidates Elizabeth Atwood King and Phyllis Taliaferro have been knocked off the primary ballot. "I believe that the decision is erroneous and should not have taken place," said King, who is continuing her campaign as a write-in candidate. Phyllis Taliaferro will be on the general election ballot in November as an Independence candidate. Posted 8/29/01

Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Yacht Clubs and Youth Gangs

Politicians love to talk about "quality-of-life" issues with voters, but in district 46 in Brooklyn the phrase can mean many different things.

Canarsie is a working-class neighborhood of small houses and apartments. Mill Basin has million dollar homes and the Hudson River Yacht Club. Marine Park is dense with development and congested with traffic. Gerritsen Beach resembles a small fishing village.

"There are quality-of-life issues that are different in each neighborhood," said candidate Lew Fidler, noting that the concerns range from illegal apartments to park use to late-night parties. "They are little things, not sexy issues, but they make people nuts."

Area Profile
For a detailed profile of this district from City Project, click here.


  • 73% White
  • 12% Black
  • 10% Hispanic
  • 5% Asian

Median income: $58,982 (Ranks 6th out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 6%

For more information on this district -- its schools, its crime statistics and more -- click here.

The area has also seen its share of transition. A decade ago, the residents of Canarsie were mostly Jewish and Italian, and only one-fifth black, according to the 1990 Census; today the neighborhood is 75 percent black, according to the 2000 Census, largely Caribbean. This is the most radical ethnic shift of any neighborhood in the city. And in nearby Flatlands, dozens of "For Sale" signs can be found as older residents move away and young families come in.

Despite the varying concerns of the neighborhoods, the candidates are talking about similar issues like education, public safety, and affordable housing, although they disagree on the specific solutions.

Both Abraham Levy and Lew Fidler are calling for reduced class size and new school construction as remedies. "We have properties," said Levy. "We should build schools next door to a school that is over-crowded." They also agree that the area needs to keep teachers from leaving for the suburbs. "There is no effort to hire back teachers," said Fidler. "Why should they stay? You want good teachers, you can't let the guy next door pay better."

Another candidate, Phyllis Taliaferro favors measures like charter schools and vouchers. "If everyone in Canarsie could send students to East Side Manhattan schools, I would be happy," said Taliaferro. "Give competition where the educational system isn't working. If charter schools work, fine. If Edison works, fine. Right now, schools are failing, and we don't try anything else."

There are also concerns about public safety. Levy recommends that police return to walking their beats the way they did in the 1950's. "Police should be walking in the street, not driving," said Levy, who noted that crime in his area is not as low as in the rest of the city. "You'll see a cop on every corner, there will be more police and they will be more visible."

There have also been recent incidents of gang violence, one that resulted in the death of a 12-year-old boy in Canarsie. Taliaferro wants to help fight crime with more social services, such as after-school programs. "Between the hours of 3 and 7 is tremendous for kids who are unmotivated and unsupervised," said Taliaferro. "And we should also get churches involved."

On the issue of housing, all the candidates agree that rent stabilization laws must be maintained and more middle income houses should be built for the area to flourish.

The candidates also have their own styles and resources that they hope will make their campaigns successful.

Fidler is the Democratic district leader and has political contacts throughout the city. Levy, the president of the Flatbush Park Jewish Center, will have the support of much of the Jewish community. Taliaferro, who traces her grass-roots political activism back to her relative Booker T. Washington, is campaigning in her car decorated with flyers that she has dubbed the "Phyllis Mobile."

The race could get even more complicated, however, with the entrance of State Senator Carl Kruger, who has not ruled out a run the seat. Kruger could draw support away from Fidler.

Whoever wins the seat will likely not enjoy the influence that Councilmember Herb Berman has had for the last 26 years. As chair of the finance committee, holds the most second most powerful position in the council.

According to Fidler, the key to meeting the needs of district 46, whatever they may be, is to work together with other new leaders in the new council and in the city. "We need to put together coalitions. That's how you get what you need."

Posted 3/30/01

Campaign Update:

The most significant developments in district 46 have come from the numerous challenges made against the candidates' petitions to the Board of Elections.

Elizabeth Atwood King has been the hardest hit; she lost her spot on the Democratic ballot. King is appealing the challenge in court. "I believe that the decision is erroneous and should not have taken place," said King. "Regardless of the outcome, I will continue my campaign. I can still run, since I have momentum and name recognition," she added, meaning that she will run as a write-in candidate. "The system is designed to eliminate qualified, experienced candidates without money or political backing."

Phyllis Taliaferro has also been knocked off the Democratic ballot. However, she will continue her campaign on the Independence party line, and is now preparing for the November general election. In addition to the major issues of education, crime, and housing, Taliaferro also hopes to provide Medicare assistance, low-income housing, and prescription drug benefits for senior citizens.

Doreen Greenwood, meanwhile, survived the challenges to her candidacy. The challenges were finally dropped, and Greenwood is still running on both the Democratic and Conservative party lines. Greenwood plans to focus on issues concerning women, such as childcare, health care, education, housing, and domestic violence. "I've walked in most women's shoes," said Greenwood. "I've grown up, struggled, raised children, and worked."

Greenwood hopes that her grassroots support will propel her through the primaries. "I'm meeting people, knocking on doors every night," said Greenwood. "I've been there, I've struggled through life. I know what people are thinking about, and what people need." Indeed, Greenwood has almost reached the maximum amount of Campaign Finance Board matching funds from her extensive fundraising of small donations from community members.

Lew Fidler, who challenged his opponents' petitions, has accumulated an array of endorsements from civic leaders and unions, and also nearly 8,000 signatures in his petition to the Board of Elections. "A lot of people looked at this year as a great opportunity to get involved, but when it really came down to getting the signatures, they fell by the wayside," commented Joe Toal, who is Fidler's campaign coordinator.

"I just want to stay on my message," said Fidler. "I have a lifelong record of experience and service. Having someone with that record becomes more important than ever with term limits. I've been campaigning for almost a year and a half, and hopefully the voters have noticed."

Abraham Levy is running on the idea that he is a "totally independent candidate" as a favorable article in the Canarsie Courier described him. "I am only beholden to the people I represent," said Levy.

Posted 8/29/01

Candidate Biographies

Carmine Evangelista (no information available)

Lewis Fidler is a Democratic District Leader in the 41st Assembly District and an attorney in private practice. He has a wide range of community involvement, having served as a community board chairman, the vice president of his local development corporation, as well as the counsel to public housing tenants.

Doreen Greenwood is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, and is a self-employed real estate broker. She is the president of the Flatbush Real Estate Board, and vice-president of the South Shore Multiple Listing Service. Greenwood has served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT in the community for 15 years. In addition, she has been on the Board of Directors on the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association.

Elizabeth Atwood King has been active in local politics for several years. She was elected to the school board in Brooklyn, and has worked on many successful campaigns, including that of Congressman Ed Towns.

Abraham Levy has lived in the district for 30 years after emigrating from Israel. He is a graduate accountant who has had a wide range of business experience. He is the president of the Flatbush Park Jewish Center and he serves on the Board of Directors of the Mill Island Civic Association. Levy also founded and served as the first president of the Sephardic Center of Mill Basin.

Phyllis Taliaferro has her own talk show on Brooklyn's Community Access Television. She has a Masters Degree in social welfare from the State University of New York at Stonybrook. She unsuccessfully ran for Congress three years ago.

Elias J. Weir (no information available)

Campaign Trail

Abraham Levy, candidate for New York City Council in a district that spans Starrett City to Marine Park, feels that he can serve his constituents very well precisely because he is not a professional politician. It is apparent that voters are not happy with politics and politicians and are ready to turn to someone like Abraham Levy, a regular person who is not part of politics as usual. Levy feels that the imposition of term limits, whereby council members are restricted to two 4 year terms, is in the best interest of the average New Yorker. He feels that Council members will be encouraged by these new time constraints to produce visible results for their districts in a short period of time as "We are not there forever." (Canarsie Courier)

Lewis Fidler announced that he filed 7,500 signatures on behalf of his candidacy with the Board of Elections. His campaign headquarters claims this is the largest number of signatures filed by any candidate for City Council. Fidler also alleged that his opponents filed inaccurate signature totals. (Canarsie Courier)

The candidates for City Council in the 46th district appear at a local civic meeting to publicize their campaigns. (Canarsie Courier)

Three candidates--Lew Fidler, Abraham Levy, and Phyllis Taliaferro--set their sights on district 46 City Council seat. (Daily News)

State Senator Carl Kruger refuses to rule out a bid for City Council in District 46 (Daily News)

The candidates for City Council in the 46th Council district are retired businessman Abe Levy, former candidate for Congress Phyllis Taliaferro, and attorney Lew Fidler (NY-1)

Abe Levy says he will bring government to the people. (Canarsie Courier)

Districts of the Week

District 1 -- Lower Manhattan
Whoever wins the election in district 1 will represent immigrant Chinese garment workers, as well as Wall Street traders living in Battery Park City. There are several candidates hoping to be the council's firsts -- the first Asian-American man, the first Asian-American woman, the first gay Rhodes Scholar, the first dot-com guru -- running against some politically well connected opponents. Endorsements and fundraising will play a big role in this race. But voter turnout could be the main determinant of who will next represent district 1 on the council. The key question is how many voters from each community will come out on Election Day.

District 7 -- Washington Heights, Manhattan
The northern tip of Manhattan has become one of the most popular places for new immigrants to call home. The northern tip of Manhattan is a place that today's new immigrants call home. The majority have come from the Dominican Republic, but also from countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. But it is not just new immigrants that are moving in. Students, artists, and other Manhattanites looking for less expensive rents and larger apartments have also moved north. Ten Democratic candidates are competing for the 15,000 voters expected on primary day. The winner who emerges from a crowded field of candidates will have to balance the needs of the newcomers with those who have lived there for years.

District 16 -- Highbridge, Bronx
The neighborhoods of district 16 are the city's poorest, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest median household income. But those who live there also point out that much is positive and stable about the area, thanks in large part to local organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and houses of worship that help hold the neighborhoods together. Each candidate for City Council believes that through his or her connections to churches and local organizations, they can help empower the community toward a better life. Helen Foster, the current council member daughter, will face Michael Benjamin, who has worked as an aide to several government officials and Anthony Curry, a Bronx neighborhood activist.

District 20 -- Northeast Flushing, Queens
This year district 20 may elect the first Asian-American ever to the City Council to an area which now has the second highest number of immigrants from Korea and Taiwan in the city. There are three Asian candidates in the Democratic race who have each drawn big endorsements. Council Speaker Peter Vallone endorsed Terence Park, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi endorsed John Liu, and the New York Times recently endorsed Ethel Chen The campaign has also drawn national and international press coverage

District 25 -- Jackson Heights, Queens
Thirty-seventh Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most diverse streets in the world. Little India quickly blends into Little Colombia, with vendors selling Latin American food to Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and Uruguayans. And each summer, the Queens Pride Parade fills the same street with rainbow banners. So it is no surprise that this election year the district produced a diverse field of candidates. A number of them, however, found out that getting on the ballot is not an easy task, especially when the Queens Democratic organization sends teams of lawyers to challenge petitions. But five Democratic candidates survived and will face off on September 11.

District 31 -- South East Queens
When a heavy rain hits southeast Queens, many residents in neighborhoods like Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale head to the basement with a bucket in hand. And it has been that way for the last 50 years. In the rush to build housing in the area after World War II, developers overlooked the need for storm drains in hopes that the city would eventually build a city-wide sewer system. The plan never materialized and the area has experienced "100-year rains" three times in the last decade. The eight Democrats -- all with little experience overseeing massive infrastructure projects--will try to convince voters that they can finally solve the flooding problems.

District 35 -- Central Brooklyn
The residents in council district 35 have some of the highest incomes in Brooklyn and some of the lowest. They can play in a famous park and a beautiful botanical garden, and live in the city's most crumbling public housing. They can attend one of the four institutions of higher learning in the district, and the worst-scoring high schools in the city. Such juxtapositions are a way of life for a district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; mid dle-class African-American communities near Prospect Park; immigrant communities from Haiti, Sierra Leon, Nigeria, and Trinidad, and in Crown Heights, a mix of Hasidic Jews and African-Americans. Seven Democratic candidates are campaigning in hopes that they can bring some kind of unity, and attention, to the area. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the neighborhoods themselves.

District 39 -- Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The candidates in district 39 include a chief of staff for an Assemblywoman, the husband of a member of U.S. Congress, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, an attorney and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, the district manager of Community Board 6, and a labor organizer. This is the race to watch this year. The group of high-profile Democrats have raised a lot of money, almost $1.4 million combined.

District 45 -- East Flatbush
In no place in the city are the effects of campaign finance reform and term limits being felt more than in East Flatbush. The seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent this largely West Indian district come from a number of Caribbean nations. Many have been working on politicians' staffs and serving with community groups, clearly hoping someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it. But this race that usually draws only about 8,000 voters could be decided by just a few votes. The candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

District 49 -- North Shore, Staten Island
Staten Island has always been somewhat of a suburban stepchild to New York City. When a 1998 survey asked New Yorkers why they go to Staten Island, the top two responses were ''visiting friends and relatives" and ''passing through.'' But in many ways, the north shore has more in common with areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn than with the rest of the Staten Island. The top priority for all the candidates -- Jon Del Giorno, an administrative manager for the Board of Elections, Mike McMahon, an attorney and counsel to current Councilmember Jerome O'Donovan, and Debi Rose, an administrator at the College of Staten Island and the first African-American candidate in Staten Island politics -- is to make sure that the island becomes more than just a turn-around-point for the over one million tourists who ride the free ferry from Manhattan each year.

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Board of Elections
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New York, NY

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Links You Can Use

Government sites
NYC Campaign Finance Bd.
NYC Board of Elections
NYC Voter Assistance Comm.
NY City Council
Federal Election Comm.

Local non-partisan sites
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
Ctr. for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
League of Women Voters

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart


Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Gotham Gazette
The Empire Page
Campaigns and Elections
Legislative Gazette

Political columnists
Andrea Bernstein
Joe Conason
Mario Cuomo (radio)
Rudy Giuliani (radio)
Clyde Haberman
Nat Hentoff

Joseph Mercurio
Joyce Purnick
John Tierney
Michael Tomasky

Political parties
Right to Life
Working Families
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
Central Queens Greens
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.

Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

American Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Communist (Com)
Conservative (Con)
Constitution (CST)
Democratic (Dem)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Green (Gre)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Independence (Ind)
Liberal (Lib)
Libertarian (LBT)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Republican (Rep)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)

2001 Election Calendar

June 1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
June 5 - First day for candidates from the eight major parties (Democratic, Republican, Indpendence, Conservative, Liberal, Green, Working Families, and Right to Life) to circulate petitions. Candidates running for City Council must collect the signatures of at least 900 people living in the district for which they are running in order to appear on the Primary ballot. Candidates not running under these eight major parties do not appear on the Primary ballot and have a separate set of deadlines.
July 12 - Deadline for major party candidates to file petitions.
July 10 - First day for unaffiliated candidates to circulate petitions, in order to appear on the ballot in the General Election. They must collect the number of signatures equal to five percent of the total enrolled in that party.
August 7 - Board of Elections announces candidates appearing on the Primary ballot.
August 17 - Last day for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the Primary Election.
August 21 - Deadline for non-major party candidates to file petitions to be included on the General Election ballot.
September 4 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the Primary
September 10 - Last day to personally deliver application for absentee voting in the Primary Last day to postmark absentee ballot for Primary
September 11 - Primary election; Polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m.; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.
September 25 - Runoff Primary election for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, if needed
October 12 - Last day to for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the General Election
October 30 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the General Election
November 5 - Last day to hand-deliver an application for absentee voting, or to postmark an absentee ballot for the General Election.
November 6 - General Election; polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m. in NYC; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.

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