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Flatbush City Councilmember Kendall Stewart’s campaign is being built on the backs of local landlords, one of his challengers alleged last week.
Gathering with local tenants outside the Flatbush Gardens apartments on New York Avenue, Jumaane Williams, a candidate in the six-person race to win the 45th District, alleged that Stewart’s big money backers say a lot about how he has led and will lead in a third term.
At least a third of the money he’s raised for his campaign came from the landlord lobby, real estate managers or city marshals, who are paid by landlords to evict tenants.
“Ask anyone here about their biggest economic challenges, and rent and housing will be at the top of the list,” said Williams as he surrounded himself with tenants and tenant advocates. “Ask how to solve it, and everyone will say the same thing: get the big landlords and the politicians they’ve bought out of City Hall. Councilman Stewart has to give back this landlord money, or he has to go.”
Those in attendance agreed.
“When we were fighting to keep our three federally subsidized buildings as affordable housing, Kendall Stewart was nowhere,” said Melvand Leland, a tenant leader at 2047-2054-2064 Nostrand Avenue. “We need a councilman who will be on our side, not one that partners with big landlords.”
The tenant advocates in attendance, however, were clearly on Williams’ side and gushed over how the self-proclaimed community advocate had supported them in preserving affordable housing in their particular development.
The New York Campaign Finance Board filings show that out of the $59,000 that Stewart raised, over $21,000 came from donors who identified themselves as real estate managers, retired real estate managers and city marshals. He also received donations from the Rent Stabilization Association and Neighborhood Preservation PAC.
Michael Roberts, a spokesman for the Stewart campaign, said that just one or two contributions came from the real estate industry.
“Ninety percent came from teachers, police officers, merchants, seniors, even a few people who are out of work,” said Roberts. “Councilman Stewart’s record is an open book. He has nothing to hide.”
“If you look at Jumaane Williams campaign finances you will see that 90 percent of his contributions come from outside the district,” he continued, claiming that Williams is a “carpetbagger.”
“[Williams} has got to stop the nonsense,” Roberts said.
Williams’ charges come after a Daily News report indicated that a home Stewart owns has several unresolved violations, including one for vermin.
Stewart said that he has fixed the violations, and claimed that Williams’ home had more violations than his.
Other candidates in the race for the 45th include Erlene King, Dexter McKenzie, Samuel Taitt and Ernest Emmanuel.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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