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Let’s talk: Local pols and residents talk community, election

Flatbush-area residents at last year’s Flatbush Tenant Coalition’s candidate forum. Another forum will be held on July 15.
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Returning with their election cycle meeting, the Flatbush Tenant Coalition is hosting its annual candidate forum at Erasmus High School on July 15. Area residents, representative elected officials, and challenging candidates, are going to discuss community concerns about the state of their districts.

The previous forum had a major focus on housing, particularly in regards to gentrification and the deliberate pricing out of long-time residents — and that still remains a hot-button topic because of the increasing aggressive actions being taken to enforce them resulting in families being put out on the streets, said one of the forum organizers.

“I think whenever you talk about Flatbush, gentrification will always be an urgent issue,” said Karl Valere of Flatbush Tenant Coalition. “People are really concerned about the homelessness crisis and evictions — especially evictions, which is at an all time high.”

Other issues of concern are for the community’s most vulnerable population and the measures that can be taken to assist them in sustaining a decent livelihood in the midst of rapid changes in their neighborhoods, added Valere.

“We’re not just going to be talking about the housing issue, but we’re going to discuss senior issues in regards to our senior citizens and also our youth and employment and education for them,” he said. “We also need to be talking about these things and how we are going to improve our community.”

Last year’s forum spotlighted the New York State Assembly election, where those elected officials and running mates positioned themselves on these issues. This year, the focus is on the city council race, said Valere.

Confirmed council members expected to be there are Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Crown Heights) and Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D–Flatbush) from districts 35 and 40 respectively. Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–East Flatbush) who represents district 45 will not be in attendance but his populace is included in the forum. Neighborhoods where council seats are up for re-election are Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Canarsie, Kensington, and Midwood.

The running candidates who will also be in attendance are Ede Fox and Jabari Brisport challenging Councilwoman Cumbo, Jennifer Berkley, Brian Cunningham, Pia Raymond, and Rose St. Albord who top for the most challengers for Councilman Eugene, and Lou Cespedes challenging Councilman Williams for his seat.

Valere says that this forum is one of the few chances members of the community get to set clear their stances, and what they want in return from the incumbents and prospective leaders for their votes.

“I think we want to create room for residents to get engaged and really get mobilized, and stay connected to these issues until September when primaries come,” he said. “As voters and as citizens, we want people to be aware of what’s happening and how that can affect their family and entire neighborho­od.”

Flatbush Tenant Candidate Forum at Erasmus High School [911 Flatbush Ave. between Church and Snyder Avenue]. July 15 at 10am–noon. Free.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 5:30 pm, July 12, 2017
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