Pierre vies for compatriot’s seat

Haitian District Leader Josue “Josh” Pierre.
Jonathan Ystad

After announcing his bid last August to contest the 21st State Senate seat in Brooklyn, Haitian District Leader Josue “Josh” Pierre has terminated his campaign for that seat, disclosing instead that he will be vying for New York City Council in the 40th District in Brooklyn.

The 40th District is currently represented by Pierre’s compatriot, Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the first ever Haitian to hold elective office in New York City Council. Dr. Eugene’s term of office ends next year.

“After several weeks of deliberation, I have decided to run for City Council in 2021 and end my campaign for State Senate,” Pierre, a twice-elected New York State Democratic committeeman, representing Flatbush, Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life on Monday.

“Since the summer, I have talked with countless community members in Flatbush about the need for progressive leadership with initiative and an understanding of the most pressing issues we face locally,” he added. “However, it has also become clear that there is continued concern about the future leadership of the 40th City Council District. This district has bound Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Kensington and Prospect Lefferts Gardens for decades.

“By running for City Council, I will be able to continue my years-long collaboration with community leaders, activists and non-profit groups who are fighting for affordable housing, education equity, small businesses and a better overall quality of life,” Pierre continued.

“Time and again, people I’ve met in Flatbush, while campaigning for the State Senate seat, expressed the need to fill the void of effective representation that will push the City’s government to create significant, real affordable housing opportunities for our seniors, resources for homeless working families, fund safe recreational spaces for our children, advocate for affordable health care for all, improve our subways, and push for a robust presence of mental health professionals in our public schools rather than over-policing our kids,” he said.

Pierre said the City Council can lead on all of these issues and more “if we elect the right leadership.

“During my years working for the New York City Comptroller’s Office, we worked to hold the City accountable and ensure critical services including equity for women’s pay and economic opportunities in government contracting,” he said. “As a council member, I will work to empower our communities and create the opportunities we need to ensure progress for all our neighbors.”

Pierre joins a growing list of Haitian-born or Haitian Americans who hold, or are seeking, elective office in New York.

He has served as a Democratic District Leader for the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn since 2016, which is represented by Haitian American New York State Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who was recently elected chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

In November 2018, Haitian American Mathylde Frontus, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, was elected as the Democratic representative for the 46th Assembly District in Brooklyn, covering the neighborhoods of Coney Island and Sea Gate, as well as parts of Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach, Dyker Heights and Gravesend.

In May last year, another Haitian American, Farah Louis, also the daughter of Haitian immigrants, was elected to the 45th Council District in Brooklyn in a Special Election to replace New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, who was elected New York City Public Advocate.

Louis was re-elected in the general elections six weeks later, handsomely beating a host of Caribbean contenders. Her district encompasses parts of Flatbush and East Flatbush in Brooklyn.

Louis’s 45th Council District juxtaposes the 40th Council District in Brooklyn.

Born in Haiti and raised in Flatbush, Pierre said he has “lived the struggles faced by thousands of New Yorkers pursuing the American Dream.”

He said his mother was a lifelong member of the United States’ largest healthcare union, 1199SEIU, “which allowed the Pierres to build capital and transition from rent-stabilized housing to home ownership.”

Pierre said he was also “a lifelong public school student and paid his way” through Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY).

He said his degree led him to a prestigious global accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and eventually to the Office of the New York Comptroller, where he oversaw the investment of pension funds into affordable housing, creating thousands of new units throughout the City.

There, Pierre said he carried on his mother’s legacy of union membership by joining the Organization of Staff Analysts and supporting contracts which protect the rights, wages and benefits of thousands of employees.

During his time in the New York City Comptroller’s Bureau for Economically Targeted Investment (ETI), Pierre said he worked to invest millions of pension dollars to help create thousands of units of affordable housing throughout the five boroughs.

He said the ETI program is designed to address market inefficiencies by providing capital or liquidity to underserved communities, adding that the program has invested over $2 billion across the City since its creation in the 1980s.

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