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When Brad Lander woke up early Tuesday morning to begin his last big pitch for City Council, one of the first things he heard coming out of the shower was the Black Eyed Peas.
It was their new hit song “I Gotta Feeling,” Lander explained to a packed crowd of supporters at Commonwealth on Fifth Avenue and 12th Street after securing the Democratic nomination for Park Slope’s 39th District.
“[My children Marek and Rosa] were playing that song and dancing around to it. They were kind of predicting tonight’s results.”
That feeling was felt by everyone in the bar as they cheered Lander’s victory in the five-person race to replace City Councilmember Bill de Blasio.
According to unofficial reports, Lander, the former director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, secured the Democratic nomination by receiving 5,129 of the 12,464 votes cast in the widespread district that includes Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park and Carroll Gardens. Since Democrats drastically outnumber Republicans, it’s almost assured that he’ll be the district’s next councilmember.
The brass ring was caught in Lander’s grip once he secured 41.5 percent of the votes cast. Challenger Josh Skaller came in second, securing 25.5 percent. He was followed by John Heyer (just over 22 percent), Bob Zuckerman (7.4 percent) and Gary Reilly (3.79 percent), who secured just under 500 votes.
All of his challengers called to congratulate Lander. Reilly buzzed in while he was standing on a chair inside Commonwealth, thanking a long list of friends and supporters, which included Borough Park Assemblymember Dov Hikind and Data and Field Services, an arm of the Working Families Party (WFP) that has been accused of providing free services to candidates the WFP supported.
“They were worth every penny... exactly as reported,” Lander joked.
Lander explained that some of the support he received was out of friendship. The rest came from everyday residents who “share a set of values and goals for building an even stronger city.”
“We love these neighborhoods and together we know it takes organizing to fight for them,” he said. “Sometimes government needs to be pushed and held accountable and when people come together they can do great things.”
The gratitude he will express to those supporters, as well as those who voted for him, he said, “begins tomorrow.”
“As exhausting and amazing and incredible the last two years have been, it’s only gotten us to the starting line, not the finish line,” he said.
While he congratulated Lander on his victory, Skaller, who commiserated with heartbroken supporters three blocks up 12th Street at Johnny Mack’s, said that “the machinery we were up against” -- meaning the Working Families Party -- was “too much.”
“Our volunteers did an amazing job and I’m really proud of all the work we did together,” Skaller said. “As a campaign we advanced some issues and we really framed a lot of the debate in this race. We made it about the way we talk about developing the neighborhood.”
“Our message got out and as long as we can continue to get the message out and people stay involved as they were during the campaign, I can only look at this fundamentally as a win for real progressive change in Brooklyn,” he said.
Skaller said that he would support Lander’s expected first term in the council. He also said that he will “put his feet to the fire” if he felt it was necessary.
Skaller did not deny the possibility of another run for office. Neither did Zuckerman, who spent the night with supporters at Excelsior on Fifth Avenue near Sixth Street.
“While I’m disappointed by the outcome, I’m not disappointed about how we ran the race,” Zuckerman explained. “We ran a positive, issue-oriented, creative forward thinking campaign. Unfortunately the voters decided to go elsewhere.”
In a few short weeks, Lander will be running against Joe Nardiello, who secured the Republican nomination, George Smith, who lost the fight for the Republican nomination, yet remains on the Conservative line, and Green party candidate David Pechefsky.
Lander said that he looked forward to debating all of the candidates.
“I’m optimistic about my chances, but all of the voters in the district should have their say,” he said.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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