More candidates emerging in race to fill Gentile seat

Another two Democrats have officially entered the race for City Council in the 43rd District in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst to replace Vincent Gentile, who has been serving in the City Council since 2002, but who is term-limited and cannot seek reelection to the post.

Assemblymember Peter Abbate – who had been rumored to being interested in making the run after 30 years of serving in Albany – participated in a candidates forum organized by the Shorefront Democratic Club at the Knights of Columbus at 86th Street and 13th Avenue on Thursday, February 16, joining two declared Democratic candidates, Justin Brannan and Democratic District Leader Kevin Peter Carroll, in making his pitch to the party faithful.

In addition, just two days later, the Reverend Khader El-Yateem made his candidacy official by sending out invitations to his campaign kick-off taking place on Sunday, February 26.

Another declared candidate, Democratic District Leader Nancy Tong, was a no-show at the candidates’ forum, though a placard identifying her had she joined the panel was in view on the front table.

During the forum, Abbate pitched his candidacy on his decades of experience, and said that he believed they would be important in an effort “to keep the seat in Democratic hands.” To that end, he cited his ability to bring home the bacon for what residents in the area need, from projects at local schools to transportation to senior centers.

“That’s what I want to bring to the City Council,” Abbate went on, noting that area residents coming into his office could count on his staff to work on their issues. “We don’t say, it’s a federal or city issue. We take care of you,” he emphasized, noting also that, after his first couple of runs, he had “gotten close to 70 percent” of the vote each time he ran.

“The truth is, we need someone strong,” he said in his concluding remarks. “We have to gear up for November. Republicans feel empowered, and candidates running here are going to need to have money.”

For Brannan, a life-long Ridgeite who described himself as a “working class kid,” committed activism evolved out of his experience working in radio, where, he said, “I became a de facto shop steward at my union.”

Subsequently, he said, he began “working on the local level” for Gentile, stressing, “I just really love the work and I learned a lot – how to advocate for people, get things done, how not to take no for an answer from city agencies.

“I’m running because I want to preserve and protect what our neighborhood has – great schools, safe streets, great parks – but I also want to improve on transit,” Brannan said, citing also the need to get a community center built where kids can participate in activities they enjoy and the importance of supporting small business owners.

“I think the district has been in great hands [over the last 15 years],” Brannan later noted. “I think a lot more progress can be made. I’ve seen how the sausage gets made and I know how to make it. I know how to get things done and I don’t take no for an answer.”

Carroll – who said he had moved to Bay Ridge from Park Slope at the age of 10 – began his activism while he was still in school, joining the Brooklyn Irish American Parade Committee at the age of 15. He called participating in such groups “a great way to affect politics with those community organizations because” Carroll contended, “If you organize at a local community level you will effect change.”

Currently a scheduler for Councilmember Stephen Levin, Carroll said he had, “Learned first-hand what the Council can do.” Among his issues are the importance of modernizing infrastructure, such as the area’s aging water and sewer systems, as well as supporting public education.

“It’s been a long time since we had fresh new ideas on this end of Brooklyn,” he subsequently remarked, promising, “Always to stand up for what I believe in, even when the powers-that-be say I shouldn’t.”

On the GOP side, there are currently three declared candidates for the seat – Bob Capano, Liam McCabe and John Quaglione.


BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Helen Klein



Justin Brannan.



Assemblymember Peter Abbate.



Kevin Peter Carroll.


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