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What a difference 18 months make.
After a heated four-person primary less than two years ago to replace long-time U.S. Rep. Major Owens, the winner of that race, Rep. Yvette Clarke, is expected to be running for re-election in this year’s primary unopposed.
“I don’t know what opposition there would be to me serving in the seat. I think I’ve gotten off to a great start,” said Clarke, whose 11th Congressional district encompasses Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Flatbush as well as small sections of Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens and Midwood.
“”I’m just getting my stride in my seat, and so perhaps that’s an observation of those who may seek to be in opposition,” she added.
Clarke said that she has also done a lot of outreach to various constituencies within the congressional district that she had not previously served as a City Councilmember.
“I’ve been attentive to issues that have direct impact on lives in the district,” she added.
Clarke said that among the issues that she has been working on that affect her constituents are the wilting economy, the mortgage foreclosure crisis and immigration.
“I’ve tried to address a lot of homeland security restrictions that have caused a lot of angst in the immigrant community in particular,” said Clarke, noting that she co-sponsored the Immigration Backlog Reduction Act.
Clarke said the bill, if ultimately enacted, will compel the FBI to expedite background checks on individuals seeking adjustment of their immigration status.
This affects a lot of people in the district who want to adjust work cards to green cards, and green cards to citizenship, she said.
Clarke said she has also been working to resolve problems with post offices in the district and particularly the constant complaints about the Kensington branch on McDonald Avenue between Church Avenue and Albemarle Road.
The problem with the postal service is that, while it is under federal jurisdiction, there is no federal funding as it survives on its own revenue generation, said Clarke.
Clarke said the postal service has been short in its re-examination of population spreads and trends, and the number of people it serves per post office.
“We tried to abate it to a certain degree through the use of mobile units, but now they are being retracted as result of fuel prices, so we’re back to square one to rely on those services,” said Clarke.
Clarke said the siting of additional post offices is not an easy task and she is instead seeking to collaborate with colleagues on the Hill to find away to counter postal issues nationwide.
Though it’s a problem in Kensington, it’s not exclusive to that neighborhood and there are other post office problems in other parts of the district, she said.
Clarke, who did not back presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama in the recent primaries, said she has since met with the Obama campaign and will work to elect him in any way she can.
“I’m just glad that a significant part of my constituency give me full faith and favor in representing them in Congress and I’m proud to represent them,” said Clarke.
“There’s another segment giving me the opportunity to show my worth. Eighteen months doesn’t give you a long time to really do what you want to,” she added.
Clarke said she reads all her emails that come to her office regarding legislation that affects her district, which her constituents want her to advocate for and support.
“I also get feedback from my staff on what’s happening on the ground, what’s diminishing the life of the people in the district and come up with a plan to act on it,” she said.
“I love where I was born and raised, and what I want to do should be a reflection of my neighbors, and the principles I can stand true to,” she added.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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