In a stunning turnaround, a political newcomer has defeated incumbent City Councilmember Kendall Stewart in the Democratic primary in the 45th Councilmanic District.
Jumaane Williams, who had the backing of a wide range of organizations and individuals, including ACORN, SEIU 1199, DC 37 and the Working Families Party, took first place in the six-way race despite the advantage that incumbents generally have and despite the fact that there were four other challengers: Ernest Emmanuel, Erlene King, Dr. Dexter McKenzie and Sam Taitt.
Unofficial results released on primary night showed Williams with 3,330 votes, amounting to 36.95 percent of the ballots cast. Stewart was in second place, with 2,223 votes (24.67 percent of those cast). In third place was Taitt, with 1,501 votes (16.66 percent of votes cast). Coming in fourth was McKenzie, with 1,042 votes (11.56 percent of votes cast). Rounding out the field were Emmanuel, with 518 votes (5.75 percent of ballots cast) and King, with 397 votes (4.41 percent of ballots cast).
All along, the contest was expected to be a tight one for the incumbent, who has been troubled both by his record as a landlord and by the fact that two aides had pleaded guilty earlier this year to embezzling city money allocated through his office.
There was also the issue of his vote in favor of extending term limits, a controversial position that his opponents never ceased to point out during the campaign, which ranged across the district, which includes portions of Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Flatlands and Canarsie.
In the end, though, it was Williams’ message that resonated most clearly with voters. “I just think the community decided it wanted to have a change,” he noted on primary night. “They thought two terms was enough (for Stewart) because that was what they voted for.”
Williams expressed both amazement -- “I haven’t soaked it all in yet,” he confessed -- and gratitude. “It’s been a very, very humbling experience,” Williams told this paper. “The amount of support I’ve received has been just amazing.”
While victory in the Democratic primary is tantamount to victory in the general election in this heavily Democratic area of Brooklyn, Williams’ victory will not be official till votes are cast on Election Day, November 3rd. In the meantime, however, he is already talking about bringing the community together.
“I look forward to working with everyone to improve this neighborhood,” Williams stressed. “I hope we can all get together and get some work done.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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