North Brooklyn, which recently saw a major political shake up in the form of Emily Gallagher unseating longtime incumbent Assemblyman Joe Lentol, will also see a fresh face representing them in the city council next year. Incumbent Democrat Stephen Levin, who has represented District 33 since 2009, has reached his term limit. District 33 includes Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Vinegar Hill, and part of Bedford-Stuyvesant. As a Democratic stronghold district, whoever wins the party primary in June is the likely winner of the November general election. Here are the current contenders:
Elizabeth Adams currently serves as City Councilman Stephen Levin’s Legislative Director. Prior to that, she worked at Planned Parenthood and in education. Adams advocates for rent stabilization, affordable housing and hopes to curb luxury developments in our district. She plans to pass legislation like the Fair Chance for Housing Act to ensure people aren’t denied housing because of criminal history. Other goals are accessible public transportation, combating the school to prison pipeline, and ending the city’s reliance on fossil fuels. Adams also calls for defunding the NYPD by at least $1 billion and halting construction of the National Grid’s North Brooklyn pipeline.
Sabrina Gates is a Georgetown grad who has worked in the non-profit sector. Her experiences volunteering and running a business in Brooklyn led her to getting involved with politics. Gates plans to push for universal after school time in order to provide homework help and supplemental activities. She wants to address homelessness by providing people with long-term housing opportunities and hopes to expand the city library system. Measures to improve mental health are also a priority for Gates.
Victoria Cambranes is a native Brooklynite who grew up in Greenpoint as a first generation American. She has a digital marketing background and spent six years working in London, when the results of the 2016 prompted her to move back home. Cambranes touts her Considerate Construction Plan, which will ensure environmentally sustainable infrastructure and mandatory inclusionary housing. She supports the No New Jails initiative and a moratorium on all new rezonings and spot zonings. Protecting the environment is a big priority for Cambranes, who plans to invest in green jobs and technology and will work to combat pollution. Cambranes last challenged Levin for the position in 2017.
Toba Potosky is a community organizer and activist who has been advocating for affordable housing for the past 16 years, an issue that will be a hallmark of his campaign for city council. As an activist, he even drafted a bill that became law in 2013. Potosky will also advocate for accessible public transportation and strengthening the social safety net for children and seniors. He plans to uphold safe working environments for union workers and protect schools, libraries, and parks from budget cuts. Potosky also seeks to cut through the bureaucracy and red-tape of what he considers to be an unresponsive city government.
Lincoln Restler is a lifelong Brooklyn resident who helped to found the progressive group New Kings Democrats in 2008. He served as district leader from 2010 to 2012 and has earned endorsements from State Senator Julia Salazar and the Working Families Party. He has unveiled a comprehensive plan to lower NYC rent, supports a Green New Deal at every level of government and hopes to create a new public safety agency to handle issues he feels that law enforcement cannot and should not respond to. Restler has also shown his support for the Open Streets initiative and plans to make them a permanent fixture of North Brooklyn. Other priorities include getting big money out of politics and representing those in the district who need it the most.
Stuart Sherman is a Legal Aid attorney whose lifelong experience with chronic illness has inspired his activism in providing legal assistance to those in New York City public hospitals. Sherman wants to invest more in early education as well as anti-racist, equitable education city-wide. He plans to make the city more bike friendly, and provide rent control and financial assistance to small businesses. Sherman also wants to reform the film industry, which has brought many jobs to the community, by ensuring they employ green practices and work to become carbon neutral. He is also in favor of defunding the NYPD and holding the state accountable for improving the MTA.
Ben Solotaire currently works as the Community Liaison and Director of Participatory Budgeting for City Councilman Stephen Levin. Before that, he was active in several progressive groups and coalitions, such as the Brooklyn Food Coalition and Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats. Expanding participatory budgeting is a priority, as is providing accessible housing and housing specifically for seniors and those requiring support programs. Solotaire supports reforming the NYPD, shutting down Rikers Island and wants to fund more restorative justice projects. He also supports environmental reforms such as mandating green roofs, requiring manufacturing sites to conduct regular environmental testing, and eliminating combined sewage overflows.
April Somboun is a marketing and communications strategist who currently lives in Brooklyn Heights, where she is active in local organizations like North Heights Community Group and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council. She attended the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Her campaign website does not feature many issues or policy platforms, but her social media has shown support for Black Lives Matter and the incoming Biden-Harris administration. She has shown interest in addressing food insecurity by supporting NYC’s Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) with funds redirected from the NYPD’s budget.