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Green powered candidate - Former Sierra Club chair vies for 33rd Council District

When the mosh pit known as the race for downtown Brooklyn’s 33rd Councilmanic District is over, Ken Baer will always be remembered as the “green candidate.”

A longtime environmentalist and former chair of New York’s Sierra Club, Baer announced last week that he’s dedicating all of his time and energy to his fight for the 33rd Councilmanic District, which includes Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Greenpoint as well as parts of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens and Williamsburg.

Baer joins an ever-growing group of candidates for the choice seat, which is currently held by City Councilmember David Yassky, who will be forced to step down at the end of 2009 because of term limits.

Other candidates in the race include Yassky’s former aide Evan Thies, Democratic District Leader Jo Anne Simon, Stephen Levin, Issac Abraham and Ken Diamondstone, who lost a 2006 bid to unseat Brooklyn Heights State Senator Martin Connor.

Before announcing his run, Baer filed lawsuits with Develop Don’t Destroy to challenge what he believes is a “deeply flawed” Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Yards project. He was also instrumental in getting the Sierra Club to join the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, which took legal action to halt the inclusion of high-rise condos in the park project.

“The overarching issue for Brooklyn and the rest of New York City is development, and how we can achieve a sustainable society,” Baer explains. “Community-derived plans need to be the basis on which we grow.”

“Rather than reacting to developers, communities should be geared to initiating their own proposals,” he said, adding that a “community-based process would allow for full consideration of all important factors in a project, such as adequate school space, affordable housing and public transportation to accommodate new residents.”

If elected, Baer said that he hopes to spearhead legislation that would require all construction and restoration projects in the city to comply with “high performance and green building code standards” as well as “regulated water and energy conservation mandates.”

“New York City has a great opportunity to become a more sustainable city and create great jobs by adopting high green building standards,” he said.

Baer is also advocating for more educational and athletic programs at local schools, increased funding for mass transit and parks, expanding public library hours, creating new Greenmarkets and increasing the number of community gardens in the five boroughs.

He also wants to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City, he said.

Yet, while he’s thinking green, he doesn’t seem to have a lot of the other green to back his run to City Hall.

According to the City’s Campaign Finance Board, Baer, Diamondstone and Abraham haven’t raised any money.

Simon has filed $26,715 for the race while Thies has raised $19,815, campaign filings show.

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