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Parker to Face Hungry Challengers In Re-election Bid

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He is probably not looking at a crowded field of challengers but, as State Senator Kevin Parker prepares to run for re-election later this year, he is unlikely to have a free ride, at least as far as the Democratic primary is concerned. According to insiders, two individuals are currently looking at the seat – former City Councilmember Noach Dear, who has twice run for the position against Parker and come up short, and Vaughan Toney, the president and chief executive officer of the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers, and a long-time political wannabe, who ran for the City Council seat that had been held by his former boss, Lloyd Henry, and won by Kendall Stewart after term limits came into play and prevented Henry from running again. Both Dear and Toney, say the pundits, are serious about making a run, with one caveat. Should City Councilmember Simcha Felder accept a job within the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg – supposedly, negotiations are ongoing – then Dear would likely set his sites on that seat, which could be easier to snag, the insiders opine. Numbers Talk The demographics of the district are an important factor in the elections held there. The 21st Senatorial District, which Parker represents, runs through Canarsie, Flatlands and Flatbush to Boro Park. With approximately 311,000 people, according to the 2000 Census, the population of the district is 57 percent non-Hispanic black, 23 percent non-Hispanic white, 11 percent Hispanic, and five percent non-Hispanic Asian, with the remaining population either non-Hispanic American Indian, non-Hispanic multi or non-Hispanic other. However, the inclusion of a chunk of Boro Park ensures Dear a base of votes in the Orthodox community there that, in a three-way race with two black candidates and a low turn-out, could snag the seat for Dear. Some insiders suggest that Toney, for his part, may be running as a “spoiler,” getting into the race to divert votes from Parker and make it easier for Dear to capture the seat. “I’ve heard he’s being put up by Noach,” said one source, who pointed out that, “When Noach first ran in 2002 when the seat was cut, Vaughan was the president of the 42nd A.D. Democratic club, and he turned the club in Noach’s direction and they endorsed him. They also endorsed him two years ago when he ran, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Vaughan is running against Kevin to help Noach.” Others, however, deny that. One political insider noted, “I don’t see him running as a spoiler. With or without Noach, Vaughan is going to run.” “A Formidable Candidate” Either way, Toney would be a good candidate, sources say. “He ran around for eight years as Lloyd Henry’s chief of staff,” remarked Rock Hackshaw, a local political activist. “There are lots of areas in the district where he’s well known, and he came in third in the council race in 2001. If Vaughan is running, he makes a formidable candidate and his candidacy would definitely increase the odds of Noach winning the seat. I don’t believe Noach can beat Kevin one on one. Noach’s chances always increase once there’s another black or minority candidate in the race, especially a Caribbean.” Is Dear’s shadow over the race the reason why there aren’t more challengers? Not so, say area political activists. “It’s going to be expensive,” noted one. “You have to be able to run a credible campaign. You have to have support and money. I think that’s the determining factor. People have looked at it but they don’t think they have the ability right now to make a run. After February,” the source added, “it should become much more clear as to whether more people are going to jump into the race.” Another insider agreed. While noting, “It’s not as if Kevin is so much loved,” and pointing out that Parker was considered by some in the district to be “arrogant,” the source noted, “It’s hard to raise money unless you have deep pockets or a lot of union support,” he noted. “It’s hard to knock out an incumbent. “I am very skeptical of anyone’s chances of taking out Kevin,” the source continued. “Incumbents win handily all around the country. You might get a frivolous challenge, but there are not too many people who are maverick types or who have the heart to try. “How does someone beat him?” the pundit went on. “You’d have to get a lot of support. No elected official is going to come out against him, and I don’t see the energy in the community to generate that kind of excitement, and I don’t see any one activist in the community who will do that. If you look in the community, as much as there is rumbling that Kevin is this, Kevin is that, you don’t see a groundswell against him.” No Decision Made Dear, for his part, said that he, “Hasn’t made a decision as to what I want to do. I am looking at all my options, all the things I think I could do. I enjoy public life and serving people, and, at the appropriate time, I will make my decision.” Dear acknowledged that if Felder relinquished his council seat, ‘I would be interested, but,” he added, “there is nothing there to make that decision.” Dear did pause to criticize Parker’s behavior as well as his performance on behalf of his constituents, specifically remarking on the dust-up between Parker and a traffic agent that occurred approximately a year ago. “Kevin Parker,” Dear said, “has done nothing in the community and, shamefully, he thinks public officials are punching bags. He got arrested for punching out a hard-working civil servant. That’s outrageous. He does a lot of childish things. He’s not someone we want to emulate.” Parker Speaks But Parker said, in a lengthy phone interview, that he was proud of his record. “I’ve worked very hard,” he pronounced. “I will stand by my record every time.” Among his achievements, Parker counted his “leadership positions” as the chairperson of a task force on new Americans, dealing with immigration; the chairperson of a task force on alternative energy; and as the ranking member on the Energy and Telecommunications Committee in the State Senate. “I’ve been a champion on education, fighting the governor and in the State Senate to get funds ordered under the CFE decision, and I’ve been trying to make sure money is coming here,” Parker added. He had also, he said, “Been very active in the district,” offering a range of services to constituents including such things as free prostate screening, as well as taking on the position of chairperson of the Brooklyn- Staten Island blood donor drive in 2005. “I’ve addressed everything from housing to immigration,” said Parker, noting that he had reached out to, “Build partnerships, working with churches, block associations, civic associations and other elected officials such as Nick Perry and Yvette Clarke. I’m more than happy to put these things before the voters.” As for the encounter with the traffic agent, Parker noted, “It was an incident that got blown out of proportion. The case was dismissed. As far as I’m concerned, it’s behind me. It was unfortunate. I wish it had never happened. But, it’s behind me.” Looking ahead, Parker said that he expected to, “Run with the support of a lot of people who have traditionally supported me.” While noting that Dear and Toney and anyone else have a right to run, Parker said that he would put his record up against his challengers’ records. “We live in a democracy,” he stressed. “One of the checks and balances we have are elections, which is one of the ways for voters to make it official that what their elected officials are doing in correct. “In 2006,” he concluded, “it’s insufficient to show up every two years to compete for a position and not do anything in the intervening time.” Efforts to reach Toney, who was out of town at the time the article was being written, were unsuccessful by press time.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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