By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus have endorsed one of their own for re-election. Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Williamsburg-Greenpoint), who is running for his second term in office, was hailed as “true progressive” by council members Jumaane Williams, Brad Lander, and Melissa Mark-Viverito during an endorsement announcement outside City Hall on Aug. 27.
His colleagues cited Levin’s work on education and early childhood issues, as well as his advocacy of increased use of open space in neighborhoods and his transportation safety initiatives as reasons he deserves re-election.
Levin is facing a challenge from Stephen Pierson, a member of Community Board 2, in the Democratic primary on Sept. 10.
Williams (D-Flatbush) called Levin “a fighter” in the council. “Steve stood with us when it mattered most to override the mayor's veto of the Community Safety Act and make the NYPD fairer and more accountable,” he said.
Lander (D-Park Slope), Progressive Caucus co-chairman, said he was impressed by Levin’s advocacy for his constituents: “I've been proud to work with Steve to expand participatory budgeting, to increase accountability within the police department, and to restore vital services like childcare and after-school programs for working families. He's a tireless fighter for his constituents, which is why I am proud to endorse Steve Levin for re-election to the New York City Council," he said.
Levin has been successful at delivering results for his district, according to Caucus Co-Chairman Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem). “In the council Steve has been a tireless advocate for his district on issues like education, safety, and fair and affordable housing. I've been proud to stand with him in the Council and the Progressive Caucus and I look forward to what we can accomplish together in the next term," she said.
“It is an honor to receive the support and endorsement of fellow progressive leaders on the New York City Council,” Levin said. “Whether it has been working together to keep hospitals open, improve the NYPD, or bring transparency to city government, I know that I have an ally in council members Williams, Lander, and Mark-Viverito,” he said.
Pierson, meanwhile, has been garnering endorsements of his own from some high-profile political figures. Last week, US Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Sunset Park-parts of Manhattan) announced that she’s backing him.
In an event held on the steps of Borough Hall, Velazquez, and Democratic District Leader Jo Anne Simon both endorsed Pierson in his bid to unseat Levin.
“I am proud to endorse Stephen Pierson. The 33rd District needs a council-member who isn't ethically challenged,” Velazquez said taking a swipe at Levin’s ties to disgraced former Brooklyn Democratic County Chairman Vito Lopez. “Stephen Pierson will work alongside me to improve our community. He’ll put our communities ahead of political debts," she added.
Levin served as Lopez’s chief of staff before running for the City Council seat two years ago. Politicker.com reported in June that Levin told members of the New Kings Democrats during an appearance at a club meeting that he had severed ties with his former boss when he read about allegations of sexually harassment leveled against Lopez.
At the Borough Hall announcement, Simon praised Pierson as "exactly the kind of leader we need." She also cited his work as founder of Canteen Arts, a nonprofit organization that provides after-school programs for at-risk teens. “Through the nonprofit he founded, Stephen has worked tirelessly to help our community and its most at-risk youth. Furthermore, Stephen is completely committed to listening to our community and responding to our concerns,” she said.
“I am honored to receive the endorsements of Congresswoman Velazquez and State Committeewoman Simon,” Pierson said. “They are strong defenders of our community; leaders who have always prioritized the needs of the community over political concerns. I look forward to following their example,” he said.