To face Pete Sikora
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Democratic District Leader Jo Anne Simon formally launched her bid for state Assembly Thursday morning at a press conference on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall. Simon is running for the 52nd Assembly District seat being vacated by Joan Millman, who is taking a post with the city’s Department of the Aging.
The district includes Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, DUMBO and part of Park Slope.
Flanked by Assemblymember Millman and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Simon stressed her deep roots in the district and decade of experience as district leader, her progressive credentials and her work on community issues both big and small – from public transportation to traffic calming in Downtown Brooklyn, access to affordable housing and education, and saving Long Island College Hospital, to name a few.
Simon has served as female Democratic District Leader and State Committeewoman for the 52nd Assembly District since 2004.
A reform candidate, Simon is one of a small handful of critics who, in 2012, stood up to former Assemblymember Vito Lopez.
“She questioned the Democratic machine corrupted by former Chairman Vito Lopez. She was there asking tough questions of transparency and accountability,” Congresswoman Velázquez said. “She asked why a large borough like Brooklyn was not playing a bigger role in state politics.”
“Activism is about having a meaningful voice in decisions that affect our lives,” Simon said. “That commitment I will bring with me to Albany.”
One of her first moves in the Assembly will be to join the education committee, Simon said.
“For the last 30 years, I’ve been working to change the picture on standardized testing,” she said.
She also said she favored lowering the speed limit and was in favor of bringing back the B51 bus to Manhattan as part of an agenda that would provide better public transportation throughout the region.
“People are stuck in traffic an average of 52 hours a year,” she said.
She called for a “comprehensive needs analysis” for the Long Island College Hospital catchment area.
Developers are fighting this assessment because “they know what it will show: The community was right all along that the area needs a full service hospital,” she said.
Velázquez commended Simon for advocating for an environmentally responsible tunnel to replace the elevated Gowanus Expressway and for her work during the planning process for Brooklyn Bridge Park to “make sure there was open communication and community input.”
“She advocated for federal government designation to make the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site despite special interests working against that. She was there from Day One,” Velázquez said. “She knows the issues, she has the skill set as a lawyer and community activist and she can translate the wishes and desires of constituents to make things happen. She’s the most qualified.”
Community organizer Gib Veconi commended Simon for her work on the Atlantic Yards Project, while Maria Pagano, president of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, praised her work on issues including children, parks and parking.
Some of her other endorsers include NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Borough President Eric Adams, Kings County Democratic Chairman Frank Seddio and state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, Simon said.
Hal Friedman, former president of the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, said on Friday that he got involved with IND because of “Jo Anne Simon’s interest in cleaning up politics. She stands for reform.”
Simon will be facing Pete Sikora, endorsed by the Working Families Party. IND also endorsed Sikora.
Sikora told the Brooklyn Eagle on Saturday, "My campaign is about ensuring our Brooklyn communities thrive by standing up to reckless developers, supporting local businesses that sustain good jobs for New Yorkers and asking the super-wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes so we can invest in schools (including pre-K slots in our neighborhoods), transit, housing and other vital public services."
Women have held the 52nd Assembly District seat for more than 30 years -- Millman for 17, and Eileen Dugan before her for 15.