Sikora launches campaign for Millman's Assembly seat

Pete Sikora officially launched his candidacy for Brooklyn’s 52nd-Assembly District on Smith Street Tuesday morning with endorsements from state Senator Daniel Squadron, Councilmembers Brad Lander and Steve Levin, and a clutch of adorable toddlers.

Sikora is running against Jo Anne Simon and Doug Biviano for Joan Millman’s seat. The district includes Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, DUMBO and part of Park Slope.

Sikora, the New York State Legislative Director for the Communications Workers of America, stressed his progressive credentials. “These are great neighborhoods in the 52nd Assembly District,” he said, “and we have to fight to preserve them from the threats of income inequality, increasing housing unaffordability and climate change.”

He spoke about fighting to keep Walmart out of the city and working to keep Long Island College Hospital (LICH) open. “I’ve worked on issues that really matter in this area.”

One of his “nerdier” goals in Albany will be to “create a program of mandatory efficiency upgrades for large and medium size buildings that would reduce carbon pollution and reduce income inequality by generating tens of thousands of good, sustainable jobs,” he said.

Councilmember Lander said the district needed someone like Sikora who would “fight for progressive values in government, try to win a more equal city, address the challenges of climate change, make sure the rights of workers are respected, address the issues of health care on the policy level, and fight in the neighborhoods to improve our schools and make them better.”

Sikora’s opponent Jo Anne Simon fired back at Lander for his endorsement. On Tuesday morning Simon said that she was “dismayed that Brad would support a paid lobbyist with such limited involvement within our district and the organizations that are its lifeblood over my proven record of community activism, leadership and reform.”

“Brad and I had good conversations about this campaign and how my experience as a community activist and Democratic District Leader would be an asset in the State Assembly,” she said. “We have both been leaders in the progressive movement in Democratic politics. We have been on the same side of many of the issues we face in the 52nd Assembly District.”

When asked about Simon’s comment, Lander said that Sikora was a registered lobbyist, but for good causes. “If what lobbying means is somebody who’s lobbied to keep kids safe from lead poisoning, to protect the environment, to fight income inequality, and for progressive issues, that’s the kind of lobbying I want to support.”

Sen. Squadron said he had come to know Sikora as a fellow parent in the local neighborhoods, especially Carroll Gardens. “Over his entire career, Pete has shown a deep commitment to good government, to expansion of progressive opportunity, to expanding the middle class and for this neighborhood and the neighborhoods around us.”

Councilman Stephen Levin said, “On a local level, like issues around Long Island College Hospital and Gowanus Canal, know that Pete’s coming at it from the right place. If you want to talk about the macro-issues – income inequality, health care big issues around education -- know that Pete’s coming at it for the right reasons.”

Levin also credited Sikora with coming up with the idea to get arrested to try to keep LICH open. “At the time, the candidate who was third in the polls, candidate Bill de Blasio, said, ‘That’s a really good idea.’”

Sikora told the Brooklyn Eagle that he intends to keep fighting for a full-service hospital at the LICH site, currently closed by SUNY in expectations of development by Fortis Property Group. Fortis plans to lease 80,000 – 90,000 square feet to NYU-Langone and Lutheran Medical Center for a “stand-alone ER,” ambulatory care, cancer treatment center and doctors’ offices.

“These neighborhoods are blooming. We still need a hospital here,” he said. “We’re seeing the selling off of public assets for private gain – the libraries, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Atlantic Yards. The community needs schools, hospitals, libraries, parks and mass transit.”

Adorable toddlers Graham, 3, and daughter Hazel helped with the campaign launch. Photo by Mary Frost

Sikora has been endorsed by the Working Families Party and IND..

Simon, a long-time reform candidate, has received endorsements from Assemblywoman Millman, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Kings County Democratic Chairman Frank Seddio, New York City Councilmembers Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso and Rosie Mendez and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, and clubs including Lambda Independent Democrats, Brooklyn Young Democrats and Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats.

Many of these supporters attended a fund-raiser at the Marco Polo restaurant in Cobble Hill Monday night.

Paige Bellenbaum, running for female district leader second Assembly District, also received a shout-out during the event. “We haven’t known each other very long, but everything I learn about him inspires me to work closely by his side,” she said.

Primary day is September 9.