The Five Borough Ballot: Brownsville Voters Waiting, Watching, Wary

July 31, 2013 at 10:14 am

In order to gain a microcosmic perspective on the actual opinions of New Yorkers about the upcoming election, City & State and City Limits, in partnership with MetroFocus, present a new series: “The Five Borough Ballot.”

The Five Borough Ballot


Brownsville came home last Friday to a broad, sunny stretch of Linden Boulevard between the local recreation center and the railyards. The annual Reunion Night, celebrating its 50th year, brought former neighborhood residents from as near as Queens or Harlem and as far as Virginia, Florida and Texas. There was a fish fry, and music by acts like Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes. Linden Boulevard was ceremonially re-named for Greg “Jocko” Jackson, a beloved community leader who died last year.

And unsurprisingly—with a good crowd on hand and only 46 days to go until the primary election—local politics made an appearance as well. District Attorney Charles Hynes worked the dinner line as his opponent, Ken Thompson, arrived to do the same. Friendly teenagers sought names and numbers of potential volunteers for Bill Thompson’s mayoral campaign.

In the line for dinner, which snaked slowly but patiently around the side of the rec center, some residents said the mayor’s race wasn’t on their mind. “I can’t give any information about that,” one woman in her 30s, who declined to give her name, said politely. “I don’t know who’s running now.”

Shaundel, a 35-year-old father of four, said he couldn’t vote because he’s “in the [criminal justice] system,” but made it clear that even if he could, he wasn’t sure that the ballot box is what matters. Shaking his head at a few people trying to cut into the dinner line, he said, “When we start caring about each other, something will change.”

But Joe Petty, wearing a broad smile and a biker jacket, said that while he was undecided about whom he’d support—he usually doesn’t choose until the final week before an election—he was sure he would vote.

“I always vote,” said Petty, for whom public safety issues loom large. “I just look to anyone who leans that way—quality of life, holding it together. Then I make my choice.”

An unscientific sampling of the crowd on reunion night found Petty’s position to be the most common: committed to voting, but not yet to a candidate.

“When September comes,” said Ann Murrell, seated in a lawn chair eyeing campaign literature as she waited for the music to start, “then I’ll make up my mind.”


Read the full story on the Brooklyn Bureau website.

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MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Judy and Josh Weston, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Rosalind P. Walter, Jody and John Arnhold and the Metropolitan Media Fund. Corporate funding is provided by Mutual of America, your retirement company.

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