District 42 East New York and Brownsville

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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-Charles Barron, Dem 13,581 - 91 percent
Walter Moseley, Rep 978 - 7 percent
Donald T. Wooten, Ind 348 - 2 percent
Amelia Smith-Parker, Con 96 - 1 percent

Primary Election Results

Charles Barron 4,902
Gregory Jackson 4,633
Donald T. Wooten 1,456
Barbara Faison 1,418
Joseph Jeffries-El 1,053
Joseph Young 856
Prince Lewis 437
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Priscilla A. Wooten (can't run in 2001)

The Candidates:

  • Charles Barron (Dem/Wor)
  • Walter Moseley (Rep)
  • Amelia Smith-Parker (Con)
  • Donald Wooten (Ind)

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

Contributors to Charles Barron
Contributors to Barbara Faison
Contributors to Gregory Jackson
Contributors to Joseph Jeffries-El
Contributors to Prince Lewis
Walter Moseley has not filed.
Amelia Smith-Parker has not filed.
Contributors to Donald Wooten
Joseph Young, Jr. has not filed.

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 42

Campaign Tangle:
In a crowded field of candidates, only one was knocked off the ballot, and then from just one party line. Charles Barron will not appear on the Working Families line, but is still on the ballot for the Democratic primary. See Campaign Update for more details. Posted 8/24/01

Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Looking for a Way Up

You cannot walk more than three blocks in East New York and Brownsville without coming upon a small corner store, or bodega, with groups of people hovering around it. Many residents clearly prefer the street corner to their apartments in the area's many crowded housing projects.

The district's population is largely African American with a mix of people from the Caribbean and Latin America -- Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republican, Ecuador. For many of them life is hard. Almost two-thirds of the area's adults are not in the labor force, and the median income is about 25 percent lower than in the city as a whole.

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


  • Black, non-Hispanic: 66%
  • Hispanic: 22%
  • White, non-Hispanic: 10%
  • Asian: 2%

Median income: $33,104 (Ranks 42 out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 15%

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

But real estate development and new businesses are slowly transforming this community. Junior Food chain supermarkets now dot the district, a large Cineplex movie theater -- the first of its kind in the area -- has opened on Linden Boulevard, and a mall with stores such as Target, Home Depot, Marshalls and Bed Bath & Beyond is under development.

While some other council districts fight to restrict development, district 42 is clamoring for more. "East New York and Brownsville are major players in the future of Brooklyn," says Donald Wooten. "There are a lot of businesses that want to provide services, and many homes are being built."

Wooten is the son of current City Councilmember Priscilla A. Wooten and wants his mother's job "I'm not taking anything away from my mother's legacy," he says, but adds, "It's a new Wooten in town."

At least three other candidates are also seeking the seat in a campaign in which economic development will be a key issue. Given the new investment in the area, the candidates hope to harness it to benefit the community.

"If the community is primarily black and Hispanic, then businesses should also be black and Hispanic", says Charles Barron, a community activist. "The youth in particular need to generate their own businesses and engage in shared profit and ownership, " which Barron refers to as "take a stand and own the land."

The candidates agree, though, that if the district is to improve, its schools must get better. Students' math and reading scores are among the lowest in the city, and overcrowding plagues classrooms. "Our children are not meeting the standards to graduate and because of this kids are dropping out of school," says Barbara Faison, a former PTA president and the president of the Warwick Street Block Association. "We have to deal with 30 kids at one time with only one teacher."

Then there is the issue of what young people do when they're not in school. The shortage of after-school and summer youth programs contributes to the tireless commotion on the area's streets and sidewalks.

"In the summer time there are nothing but children outside", says Faison "If we had a reasonable center, it would get rid of the hostility and boredom they experience."

Many area residents live in public housing and, if they have a job, earn low wages. The district ranks third in the city (out of 51) in the number of public housing projects within its boundaries. In many, such as Linden Houses and Pitkin Houses, three to four generations may live in a single apartment.

The low wages earned by many who live or work in the district have helped foster crime and prostitution. "If you want to get people out of poverty," says Barron, "you have to have a living wage job."

Area residents, including the candidates, hope that the development that has started coming to the district will raise wages and bring some solutions to many of the difficulties troubling the 42nd and those who live there.

posted 4/5/01

Campaign Update:

The field of candidates in district 42 has grown larger and more diverse.

Former New York Knick Gregory Jackson is making his first run for public office. After a brief career in the NBA (he played five games for the Knicks and a season with Phoenix Suns in the 1970's), Jackson returned to his childhood neighborhood hoping to build the community. Running for City Council, he said, is the next step. "You wonder where the power is in our neighborhood," says Jackson. "You see new housing in other communities, shopping centers. Coney Island got a new stadium. You stop and say, 'How come people don't think about Brownsville the same way?' That has to change."

Joseph Jeffries-El, who worked as the developer for a large public housing project in the area, is running on a plan to create a new Board of Education. Jeffries-El is proposing a board that contains seven representatives (one person from each borough and two citywide) that would be elected by the people.

"The mayor wants control, but that is political," says Jeffries-El. "The system of the borough presidents appointing the school board members isn't working either. On Long Island, the school board is elected and they get results. When they hold a school board meeting the people are there."

Jeffries-El also advocates for charter schools, community centers, and universal, full-day kindergarten.

Prince Lewis, a teacher in East New York, also believes problems in the district begin with its failing educational system. According to Lewis, the city needs to replace outdated books and provide better training for teachers. "If the education system is failing, everything else is going to crumble around you," says Lewis. Lewis also wants to rally residents in his community to become active in local politics and take a stand against those city officials who, he says, routinely ignore its concerns.

Republican Walter Moseley, also a teacher in the district, says education, housing, and health care are his priorities. If elected, Moseley says he would fight for more teachers and build new schools, but admits he would have to learn how to get such measures funded. "I won't know about funding until I have experience on the council and take a good look at the city budget," says Moseley.

Joseph Young Jr., who has worked as both a teacher and an assistant principal in the district, believes his ability to relate to people in the community would make him an asset to the council. Young says he would work in conjunction with other council members and community leaders to ensure that the demands of his constituents are met. "We all need to work together as a group," says Young.

As the race has grown more crowded, each candidate is trying to show his or her strengths. Charles Barron, the often-quoted community activist, has the best-funded campaign, raising over $100,000, if you include matching public funds. Donald Wooten, while running in part on his family name, is also trying to make sure voters know he is his own person. "Although my last name is the same as the council person," Wooten says, "I am totally different from her and separate from her." Gregory Jackson admits that his status as a former NBA player helps, but he wants voters to focus on his work in the neighborhood. And Jeffries-El says he has the most experience. "The others have a lot of community experience, which is nice," says Jeffries, "But nothing to bring to the table to really do the job."

Conservative candidate Amelia Smith-Parker could not be reached.

Posted 8/24/01

Candidate Biographies

Charles Barron is the founder and CEO of Dynamics of Leadership Inc., a leadership training consulting group. He is also a former member of the Black Panther party. He graduated from Hunter College.

Barbara Faison is a member of Community School District 9 and Community Board 5. She is a former president of the Parent Teacher Association and president of the Warwick Street Block Association. She used to teach 5th and 6th grade.

Gregory Jackson is the current director of the Parks Department's Brownsville recreation center. He also works at Coney Island Hospital in the surgical supply department. He played basketball for the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns from 1974-1976. He is a graduate of Guilford College.

Joseph Jeffries-El served as developer and manager of the Noble Drew Ali Plaza, a federally aided housing project that houses 385 low-income families. He has been a member of Community Board 5, Community Board 16, and Community Board 23. He also founded the Free Enterprise System Sports Academy, a school for grades 7-12. He attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Real Estate Institute of New York University.

Prince Lewis is a teacher in East New York.

Walter Moseley is a teacher. He is also a member of Community Board 5 and the current vice president of his tenants association.

Amelia Smith-Parker (no information available.)

Donald Wooten works for the city Human Resources Administration.

Joseph Young, Jr. has worked as both a teacher and an assistant principal.

Campaign Trail

The Democratic primary for district 42, encompassing East New York and Brownsville, is highly competitive, with seven candidates running, including the current council member's son. Charles Barron, who has run for the office previously and raised the most money, champions giving some public-owned property to a nonprofit community redevelopment corporation for housing and commercial development. Gregory Jackson, who played basketball for the Knicks, said he would encourage the large chain stores and megastores to move into the district as a way to create new jobs. Donald Wooten, son of Councilmember Patricia Wooten, has emphasized the need to expand youth programs and to keep the school buildings open for longer hours to do so. (New York Times)

His basketball skills carried him from the streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn, to the New York Knicks. Now Greg Jackson is trying his hand at another rough city game: winning a City Council seat in the neighborhood where he grew up. "I see the changes around here that are needed, and I know I am the best person for the job," said Jackson, 49. Until this year, Jackson and other political newcomers had few opportunities to pursue their electoral dreams. But term limits for many officeholders -- including 35 Council members -- and an expansion of the campaign finance program to give candidates more public matching funds, have transformed the city's political landscape. In Brownsville, Jackson will face Donald Wooten, whose mother, Democratic Councilwoman Priscilla Wooten, is ending a 20-year run because of term limits, and activist Charles Barron. The local congressman, Ed Towns, a Democrat, backs Jackson. (NY Daily News)

An acknowledged power broker, Rev. Al Sharpton foresees more "conflicting loyalties" in the contest between community activist Charles Barron and Donald Wooten, the son of Brooklyn councilwoman Priscilla Wooten. "One of the demands that Ferrer must meet before a black-Latino coalition could move forward is that if he cannot support the movement's choices for elected office, he cannot campaign against them," Sharpton decrees. "No one in the city wants a black-Latino coalition more than me, but it will not be forged at the expense of key black leaders who paved the way for our movement against brutal cops and racial profiling. Carl Thomas and Charles Barron stood with me when I ran for mayor. Freddie did not. I owe it to them." (Village Voice)

Priscilla Wooten's son faces stiff competition as a number of qualified challengers enter the race for City Council in District 42. There is a former NBA player with a long record in neighborhood recreation programs, a school board member who raised seven kids in the area, a builder who was a Republican until last year and a former Black Panther who came close to unseating the elder Wooten. (NY Daily News)

Priscilla Wooten, who can't run for reelection, may keep her name on the council through her son Donald Wooten. (Daily News)

He calls it his "wall of ego." Newspaper articles and awards cover almost every surface of leadership counselor Charles Barron's office. To him, it's proof his dream job on the City Council is the logical next step after years community work. Barron has a lot of ideas for the 42nd district in Brooklyn, and he likes to talk about them. But he can also talk tough. Barron ran and lost against current Council member Priscilla Wooten last time around, and he says he has no intention of losing this time, when he'll be up against Wooten's son, Donald, who is running for the same seat. "Somebody needs to tell Donald and his mother that this is a democracy, not a monarchy," said Barron. What does Donald Wooten have to say about this? "I'm my own person, and although my last name is the same as the Councilperson I am totally different from her and separate from her." Then there's Barbara Faison. She's a former Parent-Teacher Association president, a current school board member, and a self-proclaimed "people person." Jeffries-El says as a former developer and a former Planning Board member, he has a special edge in luring fresh business to this area. Jeffries-El was once a Republican, but said he plans to run as a Democrat. (NY-1)

The history of East New York indicates that current development efforts might not improve the neighborhood and might even hurt it. (Smarter Times)

Charles Barron reflects on black politics in general and Dr. Lenora Fulani in particular. (World History Archives)

Barron accuses Mayor Rudy Giuliani of courting Rev. Calvin Butts and others in an effort the create alternatives to progressive black leaders. The Village Voice

Brooklyn housing activists yesterday asked City Council members to override one of their own, charging East New York Councilwoman Priscilla Wooten is costing 19 low-income families an affordable place to live in order to punish the activist group. (NY Daily News)

Barron, a former Black Panther with close ties to Rev. Al Sharpton,. is challenging incumbent Priscilla Wooten for her City Council seat. (Wooten won.) (City Limits)




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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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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