OpEd by Peter Simmons (Concerned 20 year East New York resident)
For those who might be unaware, there is a very important City Council race taking place on June 27, 2023. Chris Banks, an emerging advocate for the community, will be looking to unseat Charles Barron, who has been in elected office in East New York for the past 22 years. During most of that time Charles and his wife, Inez Barron, held all four local seats, including the City Council and State Assembly seats, as well as the Male and Female District Leader seats in East New York.
For details on their decades-long seat switching Read this article, titled, Power To The People? How Charles And Inez Barron’s Seat Switching Is A Dangerous Game That’s Hurting East New York.
Charles is in his 22nd year as an elected official in East New York, a neighborhood that remains at the top when it comes to homelessness, near the bottom when it comes to health care and education, and the area remains among the highest crime areas in the city, with seniors afraid to come outside.
Charles Barron Unable to Bring Important Resources to the Community
Although he has been in office for 22 years Charles is unable and unwilling to partner with other local leaders to bring much needed resources to the community. In order to bring massive resources to any community you must be able and willing to partner with colleagues and city agencies. It has been well documented how Charles has been unwilling to work with other black leaders in the community. He publicly called the first ever black female Attorney General, Tish James, a puppet, during a time when she was going after the gun industry and needed the assistance of black men in elected office. He doesn’t work with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Assemblywoman Nikki Lucas, or Senator Roxanne Persaud.
For East New York residents to see meaningful resources come into the neighborhood the local elected officials must work together. Assemblywoman Nikki Lucas has been in office for only a year and a half, yet she was able to work with Mayor Adams, DOE Chancellor David Banks and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, to create a plan and secure the funding to have the Thomas Jefferson High School Sports Complex completely reconstructed. The groundbreaking on the construction will begin this summer.
Under Charles and Inez Barron, the Thomas Jefferson sports complex had fallen into deep disrepair for 4 years and was then completely condemned for the past 3 years, which means it has been unusable by thousands of students in the community for the past 7 years. Most high schools throughout New York City have had new fields over the past 10 years, while the only high school football field in East New York is condemned and wrapped in yellow warning tape. The Thomas Jefferson HS football team has to play at other locations for the home games, and youth football, cheer and track teams are scrambling to find locations.
It has been circulating that Charles told a Thomas Jefferson high school football coach that he will not do anything with their sports field until the statue of Thomas Jefferson is removed from inside the school, and he has been true to his word. The field has not been touched in over a decade and is condemned at this very moment. This is just one example of how his actions or rather inactions force the community to suffer. Thousands of students suffered over the past 7 years because he does not know how to legislate to get a statue removed from a school without holding it against a community of students who are in need of resources. Why should the youth of the community have to suffer? This is one example but there are similar stories like this one.
Chris Banks Has Partners Ready to Work Together
On the other hand Chris Banks has created longtime partnerships with Assemblywoman Nikki Lucas, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and Senator Roxanne Persaud. Chris has also been endorsed by nearly every labor union, including UFT, DC37, 32BJ, CWA, Carpenters Union, the Nurse’s Union, Hospitality Trades Union, and the Painters Union. These partnerships will bring resources to the community in the form of financing for major projects, support for schools, health care, careers for young people, infrastructure repair, public safety, and support for the arts and non-profit organizations.
On his social media pages Chris talks about the importance of partnerships and how he will work with unions to introduce members of his community to careers through union membership, which can sustain a middle class in the district.
Charles is known to yell about defunding the police, but he has no solutions for keeping the community safe. On the other hand, Chris was recently elected the president of the 75th precinct council. He has expressed that he intends to work with the police to make sure the community is protected and respected. The community needs to be protected, while not being policed as if everyone is a criminal. There is a balance, but Charles has been unbalanced over the course of his tenure as an elected official in East New York. His personal fights have hurt an entire community, with no positive results.
People want to know how Republicans can continue to support Donald Trump, well we can look in our own backyard and ask the same question of Charles Barron. Why and how can a community continue to vote for the same person for over 20 years when the community continues to lead in homelessness, among the bottom in education and health care, and among the top in crime and unemployment?
This is our chance to make a change in the community and for the first time ever we can have a partnership in East New York that includes the Council Member, Assembly Member, Senator, and Congressman, all working in unison to bring maximum resources to the community.
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