As the May 14 special election to replace Jumaane Williams as representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn draws nears, Haitian-American Farah Louis is exuding confidence in winning the poll that has already generated at least 10 candidates.
“I am confident that the unwavering and growing support, our campaign efforts and our momentum will lead us to victory on May 14,” Louis, Williams’s former deputy chief-of-staff and budget director, told Caribbean Life, in an exclusive interview Monday night.
Williams was recently elected public advocate of New York City.
“New York City, in particular the 45th Council District, is currently facing crucial changes that will affect the overall landscape of our community,” added Louis, the daughter of Haitian immigrants.
“We need a staunch advocate who will fight against systemic inequality affecting our housing, education, businesses and healthcare. I believe I am the best person to lead my district in the right direction,” she continued. “I am seeking to ensure progressive leadership for the city that has come from central Brooklyn remains.”
The candidates contesting the May poll include a significant number of Caribbean-born and Caribbean Americans, who all claimed that they are best suited to represent the district that comprises East Flatbush, Flatbush, Flatlands, Marine Park and Midwood.
More than 188,000 people live in the district, of which about 61 percent are either Caribbean American or African American, according to reports.
Besides Louis, the candidates are: Jamaican-born Rickie Tulloch; Trinidad and Tobago-born Anthony Alexis; Monique Chandler-Waterman, the daughter of Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants; Jovia Radix, the daughter of Barbadian and Grenadian immigrants; Louis Cespedes Fernadez, the son of Cuban immigrants; Anthony Beckford; Xamayla Rose; and Adina Sash.
In September 2018, Louis said she ran for Judicial Delegate in the 42nd Assembly District and won with over 8,000 votes.
Another Haitian-American, Rodneyse Bichotte, is the incumbent State Assembly Member for the 42nd Assembly District. Bichotte is wholeheartedly supporting Louis in her current campaign.
Louis said some of her successes have been endorsed by several elected officials.
Besides Assembly Member Bichotte, they include: Borough President, Eric Adams; Assembly Members, Helene Weinstein and Jaime Williams; Council Members, Justin Brannan and Helen Rosenthal; and District Leaders, Ari Kagan, Lori Maslow and Lew Fidler.
In addition, Louis said she has the support of “diverse community leaders from different sections of the district.”
Two of the city’s most prominent lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) voices have lent their weight to Louis’s campaign: the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn.
“In backing Farah,” the Jim Owles Democratic Club’s president, Allen Roskoff, said: “We have been at the forefront of the fight for basic human rights for the LGBT community and have only supported candidates who were willing to do the same.
“We’re endorsing Farah Louis for the 45th City Council District because she has shown that she will stand with us on the struggle for equality for the LGBTQ community, immigrants, people of color, the disabled and other marginalized people,” Roskoff added.
Jared Arader, president of Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, said: “We proudly endorse Farah Louis for City Council in the 45th district.
“Her willingness to put the community first, and support equality for all people, is inspiring,” he added.
Louis said she was “excited and humbled” to accept these endorsements.
“The momentum we are building is undeniable,” she said. “I am grateful that so many of the district’s residents, local leaders and organizations are placing their trust in me to serve the people of the 45th Council District.
“I will hit the ground running and build on my record in the community from when I served as Jumaane Williams’s deputy chief of staff,” she added.
Louis regards herself as “an esteemed community organizer and publicist with over 15 years of experience and dedication to advocacy and public service.”
She said public service, workers’ rights and community empowerment are passions that she inherited from her family.
Louis said both of her parents worked on behalf of the community. Her mother is a long-time healthcare professional and 1199 union member, and her father served as a law enforcement professional and later as a yellow cab driver.
As the former deputy chief-of-staff and budget director for Williams, Louis said she represented the former council member with the district’s faith community; coordinated amongst not-for-profits in receipt of city funding to ensure services were delivered for constituents; oversaw the constituent services operations for the district office; and managed participatory budgeting submissions from community groups for the annual City Council budget process.
Prior to her time at the New York City Council, Louis said she spent eight years as a mental health professional and healthcare administrator in Brooklyn, during which she was an active 1199 member.
Along with her service in the Council, Louis said she successfully launched a number of aggressive grassroots initiatives with various city agencies, nonprofit organizations and businesses.
In addition, she is the founder of Girls Leading Up (GLU), an organization that offers educational workshops, programs and mentorship opportunities to prepare young women to become emerging global leaders and to “ensure young women are mentally, emotionally and skillfully ready to compete in today’s challenging economic market.”
Louis holds a master’s degree in public administration from New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a bachelor’s degree in English from Long Island University.
She said she is also “a proud product” of the New York City public school system, attending Midwood High School in the heart of Flatbush.
Throughout her campaign, Louis said she highlighted several key issues that she intends to address as council member for the 45th District, including: Affordable housing for district residents; city support for small businesses and start-ups; job opportunities; school infrastructure; and the desperate need for high-quality and holistic health.
“I look forward to being the next city council member for the 45th District, connecting and working with all communities within the district,” Louis said.