Over the last two months, The Haitian Times held a series of candidate forums to learn about the people hoping to represent the neighborhoods with the most Haitian-Americans. We would like to thank every candidate who participated in the forums and wish them all the best in serving our communities, whether as elected officials or concerned private citizens.
Ahead of early voting starting Saturday, June 12, and primary day taking place Tuesday, June 22, we will release one endorsement representing how The Haitian Times editorial staff would fill the ranked-choice ballot for each district.
Our endorsement in each race is based on those conversations and the candidates’ platforms.
District 45 endorsement
First choice: Anthony Beckford
Second choice: Farah Louis
Third choice: Louis Cespedes
Fourth choice: Cyril Joseph
Fifth choice: None
As New York City went into shutdown mode last year due to the coronavirus, perhaps more so than in other neighborhoods, life in Central Brooklyn felt scarier and more tenuous — and for good reason. Infections and deaths skyrocketed, while misinformation spread wilder than ever online and over the phone. The zip codes encompassing the area routinely made it to the top of lists for the deadliest and most infected COVID-19 neighborhoods, most overburdened hospitals and urgent care centers, overwhelmed essential workers, overrun funeral homes; and neediest for testing sites.
Haitian-American families and workers, who make up one of the highest concentrations of Haitian families in New York, felt the toll of all this very heavily.
Sitting firmly in the middle of central Brooklyn is City Council District 45. Given the critical need, we expected the local leader — in collaboration with adjacent leaders, to be fair — to be at the forefront of the battle for resources for families as they watched loved ones die left and right. Early on and in a sustained manner.
Our first choice to represent the district is Anthony Beckford, followed by Farah Louis as second choice, Louis Cespedes third and Cyril Joseph fourth. Beckford has proven himself to be an active member of the district, whereas incumbent City Council Member Farah Louis was nowhere to be found in the community’s darkest moments.
We believe that had Beckford been in office during these dark times, he would have at least been available and visible to community members. Even as a regular citizen, he routinely participates in community events, social justice demonstrations and other gatherings that are not photo-ops. Beckford is passionate about a variety of issues, including housing protection for residents and advancing racial equity through his role in Black Lives Matter Brooklyn.
Beckford has just the experience the district needs, as a community advocate and youth mentor. His Housing Justice Plan calls for rent rollbacks and 100% affordable low-income housing, an ambitious proposal to address one of the district’s most pressing issues.
Considering the hard-hitting impact COVID-19 had on the district’s communities, Louis should have stepped up to the plate and proactively engaged with the residents to assist them with resources. Beckford, in comparison, has been out in the streets providing hot meals and PPE when needed.
With Louis, we were left to wonder: If she’s not visibly advocating for the families of the district, then what is she doing? If she’s absent during the worst of times — a global pandemic that is literally a matter of life and death, when can we count on her to be there for the community?
This year, The Haitian Times reached out to Louis, but she was never available beyond written statements crafted by her press representatives.
We invited Louis to our debate on April 22, which featured Anthony Beckford, Cyril Joseph and Louis Cespedes. Louis chose not to attend. You can read about her supporters’ attempts to change the forum here.
We would have loved to endorse a Haitian-American for this seat, especially one who has supported this publication. However, we have to hold Haitian-American candidates accountable.
We selected Louis for second choice because she now has legislative experience that she can perhaps learn from. She also joined efforts to expand senior housing projects and improve education, which are among the issues she ran on. If she does maintain her seat, we hope she’ll be more genuine in her interactions with the community and consistent in her district-level engagement.
We ranked Louis Cespedes and Cyril Joseph as our third and fourth choices, respectively. It wasn’t clear to us what Cespedes’ purpose was in running for the position. In addition, because he works in the building industry, we are concerned he may be too tied to real estate and pro-development initiatives. With Joseph, we didn’t really gather a sense of his platform and plans for the district.