District 45 East Flatbush, Flatlands

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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-Kendall B. Stewart, Dem 14,638 - 88 percent
Salvatore Grupico, Rep 1,649 - 10 percent
Ernest Emmanuel, Lib 257 - 2 percent

Primary Election Results

Kendall Stewart 3,184
Samuel E. Palmer 2,587
Vaughan P. Toney 2,498
Samuel A. Taitt 2,346
Kevin S. Parker 2,283
Ernest Emmanuel 1,293
Christian B. Hylton 1,084
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Lloyd Henry (can't run in 2001)

The Candidates:

  • Ernest Emmanuel (Lib)
  • Sal Grupico (Rep/Con)
  • Kendall Stewart (Dem/Ind)

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

Ernest Emmanuel has not filed
Contributors to Christian Hylton
Contributors to Sam Palmer
Contributors to Kevin Parker
Contributors to Kendall Stewart
Contributors to Sam Taitt
Contributors to Vaughan Toney

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 45

Campaign Tangle:
Anthony Alexis was knocked off the ballot for the Democratic primary. Seven Democratic and one Republican candidates remain. See the Campaign Update for more details. Posted 8/28/01

Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Flatbush Free for All

Perhaps no district better exemplifies the effects of term limits and campaign finance reform than the 45th in the middle of Brooklyn. At least seven candidates have filed with the Campaign Finance Board, and more may be running as well.

The men -- and they are all men -- 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 hop ing someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it.As one candidate, Christian Hylton, says, "I always made a mental note to myself that I would pursue this."

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


  • Black 66%
  • White 20%
  • Hispanic 11%
  • Asian 3%

Median income: $51,547 (15th out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 9%

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

No one issue has emerged as paramount and no one candidate appears to have pulled out ahead. Two, Vaughan Toney and Samuel Palmer, have raised the most money, according to Campaign Finance Board records.

Beyond issues and experience, it is unclear what effect the candidates' different origins will have on the electorate. Will people from St. Vincent opt for Kendall Stewart, those from Barbados for Sam Taitt and Trindadians for Anthony Alexis? For now, says, Kevin Parker, who is not from the West Indies, voter support seems to be revolving largely around personal popularity, some of which is based on which island the candidate comes from. But, he predicts, in September residents will become more focused on issues.

The contest will probably be decided by a small number of votes. Toney, an aide to incumbent Lloyd Henry says, it may take only a few thousand votes to win in a district with 135,908 people.

The area the candidates hope to represent includes Flatlands, East Flatbush and the piece of Midwood around Brooklyn College. It is a neighborhood of immigrants, mostly from the Caribbean but with some from the former Soviet Union as well Many have prospered here, living on pleasant tree lined blocks of one and two family home and shopping in the bustling commercial districts along Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues. A mall with more upscale stores is under development. There are, though, some shabby sections and, along Farragut Avenue, block upon block of bleak brick apartment buildings.

And the district includes the corner where Abner Louima first met up with police before being taken to the local precinct house and tortured in August 1997. The issue seems muted today, though police-community relations are a concern, particularly in light of what several candidates say is rising gang activity.

Senior citizens, says Anthony Alexis, an aide to Councilmember Tracy Boyland, are "fearful of their safety. Young people are fearful of the police." He says more community affairs officers out in the community, meeting people and getting to know the neighborhood, could address those key, often competing concerns.

Hylton thinks the Police Athletic League would help "young people encounter police in a positive, not a negative way." Such a league would also address what many of the candidates see as at lack of recreational facilities in the district.

As elsewhere in the city, schools are an issue, though several of the candidates cited a number of fine schools in the district, and test scores are about average for the city. Some of the educational problems are specific to this area. "We're predominantly an immigrant community and because many of them are not familiar with the educational system, their children get lost," says Vaughan Toney. For example, he says, a child from the rural Caribbean may speak in a way that's difficult to under sand and so be placed in special education classes. Once in special ed, he continued, a child has a difficult time getting out.

Almost all the candidates believe the city has the money for better health care, higher teacher salaries, smaller school classes and day care programs. "When the Stock Exchange is threatening to move, we find $1 billion to keep them here," says Kevin Parker, who works for State Comptroller Carl McCall. "Are we going to pay corporate welfare or are we going to take care of the people who need it? If we put the money in our human infrastructure and in our physical infrastructure, we have created a community where companies want to be because we have raised the quality of life."

Vaughan Toney says, "We have squandered in the last six years the ability to make major changes in our communities." Money should have gone into services, such as affordable housing rather than for tax cuts. he says.

And Kendall Stewart, who mounted a serious but ultimately unsuccessful challenge to Lloyd Henry four years ago, says the city has no choice but to find the money. He says, "we don't have our priorities straight as far as our kids are concerned. We have to take care of that now. We shouldn't wait until they're 17 and turn up in prison."

A number of the candidates believe residents, particularly parents, must become more involved in the community. Anthony Alexis, for one, thinks PTAs should be strengthened and encouraged. But Sam Palmer, a teacher, has made the call for involvement the mainstay of his campaign. Like his opponents he sees the need for more funds for schools but he thinks the community can help produce some of that money themselves. Criticizing what he sees as a lack of discipline in schools and a lack of morality, though, he hastens to add, he does not mean "strait jacket morality," Palmer says "because of our behavior, money has to go to prisons. If we perform our citizenship role, maybe we would not have to spend billions of dollars on prisons" and could use it for schools.

So far, the large number of candidates has not produced political frenzy in the 45th where, on a recent morning,dressed-up children headed to school graduations walking past balloons saluting the class of 2001 and stores selling Haiti t-shirts, brightly colored loose dresses and an array of fish and tropical produce. While their potential constituents, tend to their jobs, their gardens and various summer pursuits, the candidates will be struggling to emerge from the pack. All say they'll be meeting people, trying, as Kevin Parker puts it "to touch as many voters as I can" before the September primary. For the candidates, it could be a long, slow summer.

posted 6/22/01

Campaign Update:

Anthony Alexis was knocked off the ballot for the Democratic primary, according to the Board of Elections. That leaves six Democratic contenders in a race that usually draws about 8,000 voters. With so many candidates, voters may have a difficult time making a choice on Election Day, especially since the candidates agree on many of the issues.

"I don't think the candidates can be separated on the issues," Vaughan Toney told the New York Times. "It's not like anyone is saying he's for less funding for education. It will be who will best represent them."

So the candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

Samuel Palmer has raised the most money of any candidate. Kevin Parker has been endorsed by DC 37, the nation's largest municipal union. Kendall Stuart has the backing of Congressmen Major Owens, Ed Towns, and Senator John Sampson. Vaughan Toney has the support of Councilmember Henry Lloyd, Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, and Councilmember Una Clarke. Ernest Emmanuel is touting his work as an advocate against police brutality and the endorsement of Abner Louima. And Sam Taitt, a communications professor at City University of New York, has a web site that provides, in addition to his campaign literature, Brooklyn weather reports, bus schedules, and help finding a doctor.

The only clear long shot in the race is Sal Grupico, the only Republican candidate, who told the New York Times he had trouble finding 200 Republicans to sign his petition. "I think most of them are gone and dead," says Grupico.

But he is still campaigning. "The community really wants me to commit myself," says Grupico, a beverage store owner. If elected, he pledges to bring more services to senior citizens, like better-equipped recreational centers. He also says he will fight for 24-hour computer stations in libraries, and support privatization of city services.

Posted 8/28/01

Candidate Biographies

Anthony Alexis is on the staff of City Councilmember Tracy Boyland. A cofounder and former president of Brooklyn Young Democrats, he did constituent work for Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs. He is also on the board of the Flatbush YMCA and president of the 26th Street Block Association.

Ernest Emmanuel ran against Lloyd Henry on the Liberal Party ticket in 1997 and won 13 percent of the vote. He currently works for the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, negotiating agreements between tenants and landlords. He received a bachelor's degree in Economics from Saint Francis College.

Sal Grupico is a beverage store owner. He is also involved in the Flatbush Business Association.

Christian Hylton is a lawyer on the staff of City Councilmember Walter McCaffrey. He formerly worked for Kings Country Hospital.

Sam Palmer is a teacher at P.S. 138 in Brooklyn. He is president of Flatlands Civic Association. He is a member of Community Board 18 and leader of the environmental committee. Palmer was the principal of Prospect All Age School and the president of Clarendon Teachers Association. He is a graduate of Medgar Evers College and Long Island University. He has received many citations for service to the community, including the Caribbean Heritage Award from Borough President Howard Golden and the New York City Council Citation from Councilman Lloyd Henry.

Kevin Parker is a special assistant to State Comptroller H. Carl McCall. A member of Community Board 17, he has worked on the staff of Councilmember Una Clarke and Assemblyman Nick Perry. He also worked as a lead advance for Hillary Rodham Clinton's senate campaign.

Kendall Stewart is a podiatrist with his own practice and a Democratic district leader. He ran unsuccessfully for this Council seat in 1997. He is a graduate of City College of New York the New York School of Podiatric Medicine. He also received his certification in computer programming from Albert Merril School of Computer Science. He also serves on the executive committee of the Kings County Democrats.

Sam Taitt is a former broadcaster and manager with Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. He teaches communication at Kingsborough Community College and has been instrumental in setting up and producing web sites about Brooklyn and about the Caribbean. He coordinates the College Now program which offers college level communications courses for high school students in Brooklyn and Staten Island. He is the minister of music and choir director for the Cavalry & St. Cyprian's Church.

Vaughan Toney is chief of staff for incumbent Councilmember Lloyd Henry and previously worked as chief of staff for Councilmember Una Clarke. He also worked on the education committee of the State Assembly and was the special assistant to State Senator Leonard Stavisky. Toney is a graduate of the State University of New York.


Campaign Trail

Interviews and evaluations of candidates in districts 40 and 45 (Caribbean Research Center of Medgar Evers College -- pdf format only)

New York Times endorsement:
"45th District (Flatbush, Flatlands): Kevin Parker, special assistant to State Comptroller Carl McCall, is an African-American running against two opponents who argue that the district should be represented by someone with Caribbean roots. What the area residents really need is an energetic and intelligent Council member who wants to serve everyone with equal vigor. That description best fits Kevin Parker, and he gets our endorsement."

Four years ago, Kendall Stewart made a run for the council seat assigned to his heavily black immigrant district section of Brooklyn. He figured the incumbent Lloyd Henry had been weakened by years of reported misuse of funds at the church where he had been pastor. He soon realized that incumbency is a powerful monster. But this time, things are different for Stewart and a host of hopefuls around the city. (Newsday)

The New York Times called this one of the ten races to watch. The diversity within the Caribbean community in this Flatbush district is reflected in the seven candidates seeking to succeed Lloyd Henry. Six hail from West Indian countries. Most have worked for politicians, and each is describing himself as part of a new generation of black leadership. (New York Times)

In district 45, about 15 people made rumblings about running for city council. Nine filed petitions with the Board of Elections: eight for the Democratic primary in this Democratic stronghold. Sal Grupico is the only candidate running on the Republican and Conservative ticket. At this stage, it is anyone's guess who the front-runners are. In past democratic primaries in the 45th only about 8,000 voters have cast ballots. With so many competing, the vote could be so splintered that the margin of victory could be close to invisible. (The New York Times)

Sam Palmer sought the endorsement of Lambda Independent Democrats, telling the group, "We need to have people work together on uplifting the human race." (Courier-Life Newspapers)

Night after night in New York City, fundraising events take place, in people's apartments or slightly garish catering halls. And whether the affairs are standard or eclectic, they are all driven by the same desire: campaign cash. And they are taking place with a frequency that politicians and donors alike say is unprecedented in modern city politics.

Kevin S. Parker, an aide to State Comptroller H. Carl McCall and a candidate for City Council, brought together more than 50 friends, family members and supporters from his neighborhood in Flatbush, Brooklyn, to pay $25 apiece and eat jerk chicken wings and rice and peas. By the evening's end, he had raised $1,200, which will net him an additional $4,000 or so in matching funds.

Christian B. Hylton, a 31-year-old lawyer making his initial plunge into elective politics, gathered 50 friends, relatives and neighbors to the Fleur de Lis, a catering hall in the Cypress Hills section of Brooklyn, for a dinner of prime rib and baked sole. They listened to speeches and danced to the rhythms of reggae music -- a few had even danced the electric slide.

By the end of the evening, the group had raised nearly $3,000 for Mr. Hylton, who is an aide to City Councilman Walter L. McCaffrey of Queens and who is running in the Democratic primary for the same seat as Mr. Parker in Brooklyn.(New York Times)

City Council District 45 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, as Bob Liff reports, is an example of an "immigrants' coming of age" story. At least 12 candidates from eight different Caribbean islands may run for the seat being vacated by Lloyd Henry, who is prevented by the new term limits law from running again. They include: Colin Moore (from Guyana), Democratic district leader Kendall Stewart (St. Vincent), former leader James Connolly (Cayman Islands), Omar Boucher (Jamaica), school board head Julia James (Dominica), Ernest Emanuel (Haiti), Sam Tate (Barbados), council aide Anthony Alexis (Trinidad) and lawyer Sam Nicolas (Haiti). (Daily News)

Incumbent City Councilman Lloyd Henry won reelection, beating Kendall Stewart, a former Henry backer who had turned on the incumbent along with the Brooklyn Democratic machine. Henry won the Democratic primary comfortably despite being considered the most vulnerable incumbent in the city. (Daily News)


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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