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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002
x-Michael C. Nelson, Dem (i) 17,325 - 76 percent
Herman Thompson, Rep 4,538 - 20 percent
Allen Herschaft, PET 446 - 2 percent
Stephen Walters, Con 436 - 2 percent
Incumbent: Michael C. Nelson
- Alan Herschaft (Pet)
- Michael C. Nelson (Lib)
- Herman Thompson (Rep)
- Stephen Walters (Con)
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
to Allen Herschaft
Yehuda Katz has not filed
to Michael Nelson
Herman Thompson has not filed
Stephen Walter has not filed
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
We tail 19-year-old Yehuda Katz as he campaigns for a seat
in the City Council, not so much running as riding - for 24 hours
continuously on the D and the Q trains. His high school teacher
had come up with this idea.
Summer Time Blues
With warm weather South Brooklyn's quiet neighborhoods along
Sheepshead Bay and the Atlantic Ocean come to life. Street cafes
and restaurants open their doors, the fishing docks bustle with
activity, and Oriental Boulevard leading to the beach jams with
cars waiting to get into parking lots.
In addition to standard issues like education and senior citizen
concerns that affect the much of the city as well, community leaders
say that it is during the summer that the most basic challenges
in the district arise.
Crowds, noise control, trash, and traffic are what local politicians
like incumbent Michael Nelson and challenger Allen Herschaft hear
about when they listen to constituents.
"Crowd control is an issues during the summer when thousands
of people visit the beach and parks that line the sea shore."
says Dana Borell, president of the Manhattan Beach Community Group.
Manhattan Beach has been a summer attraction for over a hundred
years and in the past attracted famous musicians and celebrities.
Today, the beach draws a more modest assortment of visitors and
many of the older summerhouses have been bought and renovated
by Russian immigrants.
Sanitation is another problem that crops up during the summer
months, particularly in parks and beaches, which community leaders
hope will be addressed more during upcoming City Council election.
"We need to quadruple garbage pick ups and the number of trash
cans on the streets," says Steve Bearrison, the president of Bay
Improvement Group, the largest community group in Sheepshead Bay.
"There has to be a garbage can on each street corner."
Michael Nelson, City Councilmen for district 48 since 1999, says
that sanitation is an issue he plans to work on more if reelected.
In the last two years, he has pushed for better sanitation in
the neighborhoods and has also increased the run of the skimmer,
a boat that collects garbage from the water in the bay. "It's
still not as clean as I would like it," says Nelson.
Adequate parking seems to be a problem all year-round and some
say it keeps local business from expanding.
"We need more parking for the merchants on Sheepshead Bay Road
and the fishing docks on Emmons Avenue," says Bearrison. "A minimum
of 1,500 spaces for the fisherman and 500 for the merchants."
The lone challenger of Nelson at this time is Allen Herschaft,
who says education is the most important issue on his platform.
Herschaft supports school vouchers and charter schools for all
of New York City and says they are especially important in this
district because of the many families who send their children
to private and religious schools that should be receiving tax
"There should be privatization of schools in a democratic society,"
Nelson, a former teacher, says he is against vouchers, which
he called "a dismantling of the public school system." As for
charter schools, he would be open to them "as a test.". But if
reelected, he wants to focus on decreasing classroom sizes, increasing
dramatically teacher's salaries and most importantly getting the
parents involved. So far, he says, he has worked on getting more
computers into the classrooms and improving the public address
systems in area schools for better school safety.
Herschaft, who is running as an independent, also says his main
goal is to restore traditional family values that he feels are
important to the large group of Orthodox Jews and Roman Catholics
Nelson also seems to have the religious vote on his mind at least
in part when he notes, "I ran for Council because I like helping
people, but I was not qualified to be a priest or a rabbi."
The Russian vote is increasingly important in the area. Borell
from the Manhattan Beach Community group says Russian immigrant
participation is strong in her community group. Nelson says he
once stood in front of a school where people were voting and one
out of four of the voters spoke Russian or had Russian accents.
Arkady Kagan, an editor at the Russian Forward, notes that coverage
of local politics in the Russian papers has also increased in
"Local Russian newspapers did not used to report anything about
politics," says Kagan. "But now they all report about it ," especially
Kagan believes the interest and move toward more people registering
as voters was sparked in part by the 1996 welfare reform legislation
that had an impact on legal immigrants and welfare and Medicaid
Currently the largest group of voters that can influence the
election are senior citizens. District 48 has the highest population
over 65 of any district in the city.
"More services are needed in the senior centers," said Community
Board 15 chairman, John Nikas. "Some are getting by just by the
skin of their teeth and have no funding. They especially need
more aggressive programs and assistance for families with Alzheimers."
If all politics are local, in district 48 the election hinges
in large part on quality-of-life issues in the summer and attention
to the concerns of seniors.
That may be why Councilmember Nelson is quick to mention that
he was responsible for the iron fence that protects a small triangle
park on a median strip in Midwood. It is a very popular place
for seniors to gather on warm days, he says.
There are no primary races in district 48 as incumbent
Democrat Michael Nelson is unchallenged. Republican candidate
Herman Thompson, Conservative candidate Stephen Walters; and 19-year-old
Libertarian candidate Yehuda Katz will face Nelson in the general
election in November. Neither Thompson nor Walters could be reached
for comment. See Gotham Gazette's Campaign
Tail for more information about Katz's campaign.
Michael Nelson was elected to the Council in February
1999. He worked as former chief-of-staff for State Senator Carl
Kruger. He also worked as director of community relations for
Congressman (now U.S. Senator) Charles Schumer. Nelson has also
been an outreach coordinator and addiction counselor at Coney
Island Hospital and a special education teacher.
Yehuda Katz, who is 19 years old, just completed his first
two years at SUNY Rockland Community College and will be going
to New York University in the fall. At Rockland Community College
Katz served on the student newspaper, Outlook Student Press, where
he was editor-in-chief. He also served a semester on the Student
Allen Herschaft works as a law librarian at the New York
City Council Legal Division Law library. He received a BA from
McGill University in Montreal, Quebec in Political Science and
History, a paralegal diploma from New York University; a Masters
in Library Science from Pratt Institute. He also attended law
school at the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University
Herman Thompson (no information available).
Stephen Walters (no information available.)
With term limits forcing many City Council members from office,
the few who are eligible for reelection enjoy a rare advantage:
incumbents seldom lose. Councilman Michael Nelson -- representing
Midwood, Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay -- says he has no
doubt he will win. "I am extremely confident," said Nelson, who
is unopposed for the Democratic nod. And no one is running against
him in November on the Republican line. So far, Nelson's only
opponent is Allen Herschaft, who doesn't really disagree with
him about the likely outcome. (Daily
Michael Nelson writes why he believes term limits will leave City
Council with inexperienced novices, while kicking out experienced
elected officials into retirement. (Gotham
Last October, city officials cracked down on seafood restaurants
and produce stores along Avenue U in Sheepshead Bay that dump
garbage and food-laden water into the gutters, creating a smorgasbord
for rodents. But that crackdown, following a Daily News report
on filthy conditions along Avenue U, only lasted a month, said
state Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Mill Basin) and city Councilman Michael
Nelson (D-Sheepshead Bay) (Daily
Sheepshead Bay residents along Avenue U will have plenty to be
thankful for by the end of next month. That is when the city Health
and Sanitation departments expect that fewer rats, less garbage
and cleaner sidewalks will be seen along Avenue U between E. 12th
St. and Bedford Ave. (Daily
Leaders of the Working Families Party and Green Party say that
their support of peace activist Sonya Ostrom paid off, even though
she netted only 13 percent against incumbent Democratic City Councilman
Mike Nelson, who won with 80 percent. Ostrom is a former teacher
and head of Metro Peace Action, a well-established local anti-war