Caribbean pols urge voters to flood Nov. 3 poll

Assemblyman Nick Perry and Community Advocate and Nurse Mercedes Narcisse stand together in their call for police reform at a rally at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn in June. Perry, File
Frank Shea/Office of Assemblyman Nick

Even as some of them are running in uncontested races in the Nov. 3 poll, Caribbean American legislators in Brooklyn are urging the community to vote in what they describe as, perhaps, the most important Presidential Elections in their life time.

“In our lifetimes, we have heard before, ‘this is the most important election ever’, but never has this been truer than this 2020 election,” said veteran New York State Assemblyman Nick Perry, the Democratic representative for the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn, in a Caribbean Life interview.

“I firmly believe that four more years of (President Donald J.) Trump in the White House will see the destruction of America’s democracy, as we know it, and as the founding fathers tried to create,” added Jamaican-born Perry, who is running unopposed in the Nov. 3 general elections. “After only four years, one would have to be totally blind to not see and hear the awful noise of the breaks and cracks of our Democratic system of government that no one imagined could have occurred.

“The stakes are too high, and it is truly a matter of life and death for our democracy,” Perry continued. “Lies and deceit are not all we have to worry about; we also will be voting for a public purging of the corrupt elected leaders and some reconstruction of our processes to prevent a few enablers from breaking up our system with their wrongdoing.

“I urge everyone to not only vote for Joe Biden for President but to continue down the ballot on the Democratic line and create not a blue wave but a blue tsunami that will reverberate across the nation,” he urged.

Democratic Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke. Office of Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke

Perry’s call is vehemently echoed by Democratic Congressman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn.

“This election is one of the most important elections of our lifetime. Our nation is in crisis, and we need to do everything we can over the next two weeks to defeat Trump, hold the House and flip the Senate,” she told Caribbean Life.

The congresswoman said she was “honored to receive overwhelming support” from her constituents in June’s Democratic Primary, adding that she again looks forward to receiving their support in the November poll.

“My Republican opponent this November is a Trump loyalist; and, you can guarantee that if we don’t hold our House (of Representatives) majority and defeat Trump, he will roll over and do whatever Trump says,” said Clarke, referring to her lone challenger, Haitian American Republican Constantin Jean-Pierre.

“We couldn’t have asked for better champions than Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris in the White House, and I will be proud to cast my vote for the Democratic ticket,” she continued. “I will be casting my ballot, along with my family, during the early vote period, which begins this Saturday, Oct. 24, and I encourage everyone to make a plan to vote either by absentee, early vote or on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

“We got to start our robocalls encouraging people to go out and vote Democratic from the top of the ticket to the bottom,” Clarke said. “Now that we turn our sights to the November elections, which will impact our community for generations to come, I hope you stand with me in our fight to defeat Trump on Nov. 3.”

While she does not have an opponent in the general elections, Guyanese-born Democratic State Sen. Roxanne Persaud, said her focus is on helping her State Senate colleagues, “who have opponents to retain their seats.”

“In Brooklyn, it is important that Sen. Gounardes win his re-election,” said Persaud, referring to State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who represents New York’s 22nd State Senate District, which includes the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach and Marine Park. He was first elected in November 2018.

Persaud, who represents the 19th Senatorial District — which comprises 12 communities: Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Mill Island, Georgetown, Ocean Hill and Starrett City, with about 318,019 constituents — is also advocating success for “the Biden team” in the Nov. 3 poll.

Democratic Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, whose opponent is

Republican Menachem Rappaport, could not emphasize enough the salience of voting, saying that “every election is important.

“Far too often, we have been made to believe that our voices don’t matter, that our lives don’t matter and that our votes don’t matter. Well, I’m here to remind you that they do matter,” said the representative for the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn, whose parents hail from Aruba and St. Martin.

“It is important as a community that we continue to remain ‘civic minded’ as a daily practice,” she added. “Voting is a key activity that we as a people can do to display the highest use of our power.

“Our voice at the polls represents the call to action for equitable access to education, healthcare services and workforce development programs, to name just a few of the community’s basic needs,” Richardson continued.

“Make a plan to vote by absentee or in person,” she urged constituents. “Now, more than ever, your vote matters.”

Richardson described her district — which comprises the neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn, Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Wingate and East Flatbush — as “a cultural melting pot of families from around the world.”

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte. Office of Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte

Her Democratic Assembly colleague, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said the November elections are “pivotal” for Caribbean-Americans.

“Gaps in health care access, and educational and income inequities resulted in a higher infection and fatality rate in largely-minority districts like mine,” said Bichotte, chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, who represents Brooklyn’s 42nd Assembly District.

“I think voters here realize that our federal leadership let them down, and they are eager for a chance to change the tide,” she added. “This is evidenced by the unprecedented turnout we saw during the Primary Election and the overwhelming number of requests for absentee ballots to date.”

Bichotte — whose district comprises the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood and Ditmas Park — said, while her race is not contested, she never takes her constituents for granted.

“During my next term in office, I will continue to support health care access for all, equity in education and affordable housing initiatives,” she assured. “I will also work to expand opportunities for MWBEs (Minority and/or Women-owned Business Enterprises) and reform our broken criminal justice system.”

Another daughter of Haitian immigrants, Phara Souffrant Forrest, essentially a political newcomer, expressed strong confidence in repeating her shocking upset in the Democratic Primary Election in beating long-standing African American Assemblyman Walter T. Mosely, III in the general elections for the 57th Assembly District.

Souffrant Forrest, 31, a registered nurse, whose husband is Jamaican Charles Forrest, beat Mosely by 10 percentage points in the Primary.

“That was not a fluke; that was not a mistake,” exclaimed the youthful Souffrant Forrest.

“I’m very confident that I will beat him again,” she said about Mosely, who will be contesting the general elections on the Working Families Party (WFP) ticket. “I’m still going strong. We’re are very actively campaigning, and we feel very confident that we’ll reclaim victory in November.”

Souffrant Forrest urged voters in the 57th Assembly District — which comprises Clinton Hill, Ft. Greene, Prospect Heights, and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights in Brooklyn — to “get your plan together.

“If you’re going to vote by mail, sign it and send it in,” she urged. “If you’re going to vote in person, make sure you have your documents with you.

“The idea is that they’re (Republicans) banking on us not to have a plan,” Soufffrant Forrest added. “Early voting starts on the 24th (of October). Once you have a plan, you don’t have to worry about voter suppression.”

 

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