DOUG BIVIANO VS. PETE SIKORA VS. JO ANNE SIMON
For Brooklyn Heights resident Doug Biviano, the decision to run for the 52nd District Assembly seat is largely based on the idea of handing back to the voters what he feels should be rightfully theirs.
“Our entire campaign is about returning the power of governing democracy in the community back to the voters,” said the family man and father of three, citing the recent losses of local cultural institutions, housing facilities and Long Island College Hospital (LICH). “We’ve lost complete control.”
Frustrated by what he called lack of smart government in Albany, Biviano is running to cut the cord on special interest projects by big developers, to make room once again for lower and middle class residents as well as businesses he said are being pushed out by unfairly high taxes.
While he’s not against development, Biviano is strongly against special interest developments targeting “vital institutions like the libraries, the parks and, above all, hospitals like LICH.” With a family full of P.S. 8 kids, the potential candidate attributed the overcrowding of schools like his children’s to such developments.
“These developments come in and get these tax breaks, and they over-build,” he said. “That overcrowds our schools and cuts our school programs, leaving 30 kids to a classroom with just one teacher and no money left over to hire any new ones.”
The bottom line is this, he said, “Our campaign is trying to protect the community by exposing the deception” and “better informing voters” of what’s going on around them.
“That will make a difference, and that will protect our neighborhood,” Biviano said. “When people understand how they’re controlled by all this money that’s dumped into the system, they pick better leaders.”
Lifelong New Yorker Pete Sikora has his eye on the 52nd District Assembly seat. With a slew of causes he’s ready to fight for, Sikora’s number one goal is to ensure that Brooklyn continues to thrive by standing up to reckless developers, supporting local businesses and asking the top one percent of taxpayers to pay their fair share.
“I want to take on income inequality and climate change and keep our neighborhood affordable,” said the Cobble Hill husband and father.
Additionally, Sikora said, he hopes to assure affordable housing for all, as well as prevent further overcrowding in schools across the district.
“What’s happened over the last 30 years is that the state has cut taxes for the top one percent in half,” he said, adding that the state is giving away nearly $7 billion a year in corporate tax breaks that he called unjustified. “If we ask the rich to pay a little more, we can raise the revenue to invest in things like mass transit, parks, schools, hospitals, public safety, senior centers.”
When asked why he should be the candidate, Sikora cited a 20-year record of “getting things done.”
“I’ve been going to Albany for almost 20 years,” he said. “I know the corruption and how special interests really run the system. I know how to create results.”
Among fights to keep Wal-Mart out of the Fulton Mall, to close the Hudson Generating System and to keep Long Island College Hospital open, Sikora said his proudest accomplishment is his role in leading the coalition to pass the children’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Act – which has since seen a 66 percent decrease in related illnesses.
JO ANNE SIMON
Thirty three-year Boerum Hill resident Jo Anne Simon calls the 52nd Assembly District the “epicenter” of tremendous development pressure and that’s why, she said, she’s running for the seat.
“I’ve been a community leader for the last 20 years in the district and a Democratic district leader for the last 10 years, so I know the district quite well,” she said. “I know where we’ve come, where we’ve been, and I understand the pressures.”
Looking to make change, Simon told this paper that she’d focus on issues like affordable housing, increased development, the environment, education and long term sustainability, if elected.
“People are feeling pushed out and priced out,” said the candidate of affordable housing, adding that these issues span income categories.
“Since people have discovered Brooklyn, it’s affected overcrowding in our school,” stressed Simon, citing the recent cancellation of P.S. 8’s pre-kindergarten program as an issue that may soon face other schools in the district.
When asked why she should be the Democratic candidate, Simon claimed home-field advantage.
“I have lived and worked in this district as a community activist for over 20 years, and I know it,” she stressed. “There are a lot of big issues that affect our state but how they’re played out on the ground, in the lives of the people that you would represent, that’s where I bring an unmatched record.”
Adding to that record, she said, is her record of independence from party politics, which, she said, “makes a big difference in Albany.”
Simon has been president of the Boerum Hill Association, chair of the Atlantic Yards Task Force, and co-founder of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Coalition, among other advocacy roles.