District 33’s “Battle of the Stephens” is over, and the winner is…Stephen.
Levin, that is.
On Tuesday, Councilman Levin defeated challenger Stephen Pierson in the Democratic Primary for District 33, which comprises Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. Levin won 71 percent of the vote, or almost 12,000 votes, compared to about 5,000 votes for Pierson, an arts nonprofit founder with no previous political experience.
Levin was one of five councilmembers citywide to earn more than 70 percent of the district vote. There was no Republican candidate in the race.
At his victory party in Downtown Brooklyn’s Local 61 restaurant, Levin called the victory an opportunity to “focus on what’s still left to be done.”
Levin ran on a record of quality-of-life improvements in District 33, particularly in the rapidly developing neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, which are poised for even greater changes in the next four years.
His accomplishments include new speed cameras, Brooklyn’s first slow zone, mandatory kindergarten, participatory budgeting and all-nighters assisting residents afflicted by Hurricane Sandy.
Ken Diamondstone, a developer who ran against Levin in 2009 but supported him in this race, said that Levin impressed him with his “history of activism” and demonstrated “a great deal of growth and independence” in his first term.
Two other primary results fare well for Levin. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio led the mayoral primary with about 40 percent of votes. Levin, a member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, shares de Blasio’s passion for affordable housing, improved transit and opposing Stop and Frisk. Most notably, Levin and de Blasio were arrested together in July while protesting the closure of Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital.
Meanwhile, controversial former Assemblyman Vito Lopez lost the race for District 34 to Antonio Reynoso. Lopez hoped for a comeback after leaving the Assembly in 2010, following accusations of sexual harassment from staff members. Levin previously worked as Lopez’s chief of staff, and credited Lopez as an essential factor in his 2009 election. Levin eventually denounced Lopez after the scandal and publicly disapproved of his District 34 campaign, but their connection remained one of the most common criticisms of Levin. Lopez’s defeat could help Levin further distance himself from his former mentor.
Outside Local 61, Levin said that early childhood literacy and senior housing would be the first issues he focuses on in his second term. He will also have to contend with highly-disputed waterfront condo developments planned for Greenpoint and Williamsburg, which have residents of those neighborhoods fearing overdevelopment, gentrification and rising costs of living.
Challenger Stephen Pierson, who sits on Brooklyn’s Community Board 2, said several minutes before polls closed that, if he lost, he’d continue to protest the Greenpoint developments and pursue his planned Article 78 lawsuit against the city to halt the projects.
“I’ll do what I can to initiate change,” he said. “I’m very invested in this case.”
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