A great NY Times article came out today about Haitians, various ethnic groups and the upcoming race for NY City Councilman from NY's 40th council district. (The 40th district encompasses sections of several Brooklyn neighborhoods including Flatbush and Crown Heights.)
The most important observation the article makes is that Haitians in Brooklyn are maturing politically by coming together and choosing one candidate so that their vote does not get split as in countless past elections. (Incidentally, I highlighted this very point in my last post):
Dr. Eugene’s candidacy represents a maturation of the often fractious Haitian political landscape in New York. ... Mr. [Henry] Frank said that typically, several Haitian candidates run for an office and as a result, not one is able to get enough votes to win. “Here in New York, there was a lot of fighting among candidates in our community,” he said. “That’s the way of saying, too many chiefs and not enough Indians here.”
So important was this seat to Haitian political and civic leaders that they had meetings to narrow the field of Haitian-American candidates. The group selected Ferdinand Zizi, a health care administrator, but he withdrew from the race while his petitions were being challenged, leaving Dr. Eugene as the sole Haitian running. Since then, his candidacy has received attention from media outlets in Haiti, which are following the race closely.
And that observation is extended to the district's Caribbean community generally:
“This race is significant because you have a lot of people from various Caribbean ancestries trying to get a seat or hold a seat at the political table,” said Michael Gaspard, a political consultant who has studied the race to succeed Ms. Clarke. “And it’s a sign of the Caribbean community coming of age in a significant political way.”
Jamaican incumbent Yvette Clarke and her mother Una are apparently looking to pass the seat on to Dr. Eugene whom they endorsed in order to repay the Haitian community for their votes over the years:
Ms. Clarke’s mother, Una, made history by becoming the first Jamaican-born member of the Council in 1991. And Yvette Clarke succeeded her mother in the Council before going to Congress this year.
Now, both mother and daughter, who are something of a political force in Brooklyn, have decided that it was time to repay the substantial Haitian support they have received over the years.
But it is hard to predict the election's outcome:
“It’s unpredictable because it’s in the dead of winter and a candidate could win with 15 percent of the vote,” said Mr. Gaspard, the political consultant. “Turnout will be extremely low, and any of them could squeeze this out. And that’s what makes it intriguing.”
To be continued.
Photo by bondidwhat
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