Despite losing to Haitian American Farah Louis in the special election on May 14 for City Council representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, Caribbean American Monique Chandler-Waterman says she will again oppose Louis in the Democratic Primary on June 15.
Chandler-Waterman, whose parents hail from Barbados and Jamaica, was first runner-up to Louis in a field of eight candidates in the special election.
“I’m running for City Council because our community — and the entire city — needs an activist and organizer in the same mold, and with the same conviction and energy, as Jumaane Williams, who served us all so well for the past 10 years,” said Chandler-Waterman, who served as Williams’s Director of Community Outreach when he was first elected to office in 2012, in an exclusive Caribbean Life interview over the weekend.
Williams, who was recently elected New York City public advocate, endorsed Chandler-Waterman over Louis, his former deputy chief-of-staff, in the special election.
“That’s who I am and that’s what I’ll bring to the City Council from day one on the job — years of experience as a local activist and community organizer, and a true passion for solving the problems that affect our families,” said Chandler-Waterman, stating that she is a first generation American of Caribbean descent, who got her start as an activist creating “round-the-clock child care in our community to help parents who have to take on two or more jobs to pay the bills and support their families.”
She said she then launched a non-profit, East Flatbush Village, Inc., “to provide a broad range of youth services and support for our seniors.
“And I went on to serve as our Councilmember Jumaane Williams’ director of Community Outreach, working closely with him to make sure the city is solving urgent problems and providing help and resources to those who need it most,” added Chandler-Waterman. “I’m so proud to have won Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams’ endorsement in this race and truly humbled by what he said in endorsing me.”
She quoted Williams as saying: “’From the moment I got elected 10 years ago, this activist and organizer has been alongside me for our community on the issues that matter — whether it’s expanding child care, reducing gun violence or demanding more for our public schools.’”
Chandler-Waterman said those issues will be her priorities on the City Council.
“We must take stronger stands against the big landlords and developers who are pushing long-time residents out their homes, so they can gentrify our community more,” she said. “We’ve too much gentrification taking place already. Affordable apartments are disappearing, and no one – not our people, not our small stores and businesses – can afford the rising rents. That’s got to change.
“We’ve also got to change the over-policing going on in our neighborhoods,” she added. “We lead the entire city in unwarranted stop-and- frisks.”
Chandler-Waterman pointed to a recent report that shows that “when we call the police for help in an emergency, our neighborhood has the slowest 9-1-1 response in the entire city.
“That’s unacceptable,” she asserted, adding: “And I’ll use my voice as an activist and organizer and my experience as a liaison to work with our community and the police to change that.”
In addition, Chandler-Waterman said there’s need to invest more in our public schools in making sure that “every student, in every neighborhood, has access to quality schools.”
She said she is a former teacher, “a product of our public schools with children of my own in public schools today; so, I know the challenges, and I feel the urgency to make sure all our children get the tools they need to succeed in life.”
Chandler-Waterman said she has lived in East Flatbush her entire life, where she and her husband, Eric, are raising their four kids.
“I know what makes our neighborhoods special, and I see every day the forces of gentrification that threaten it,” she said, stating that she is “proud to have the support of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, State Senators Kevin Parker and Zellnor Myrie, Assemblyman Nick Perry and so many labor unions and community leaders.
“I look forward to letting the Democrats in our district — not Republicans — decide who our next city council member should be,” she added. “It would be an honor to serve the people of the 45th District, as I have for the better part of two decades now as a teacher, activist and organizer.
“We’ve got big challenges ahead, and I’m confident we can meet them by standing up, speaking out and working together,” Chandler-Waterman assured.
In the special election, Chandler-Waterman received 2,790 votes, or 30 percent, to Louis’s 3,861 votes, or 41.8 percent, of the 9,200 votes cast on the rainy day.
Lawyer Jovia Radix, the daughter of Barbadian and Grenadian immigrants, placed third, receiving 849 votes, or 9.1 percent.
Radix, a former Brooklyn regional director for New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, is the daughter of Grenadian-born dentist Dr. Joseph Radix and Barbadian-born Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix.
The younger Radix told Caribbean Life that she will not contest the Democratic Primary. She did not indicate whether she will throw her support behind Chandler-Waterman’s candidacy.
At press time, it was also uncertain whether the other candidates in the special election will support Louis or Chandler-Waterman in the primary.
The other candidates in the special election were: Jamaican-born senior director at New York City Health + Hospitals Rickie Tulloch; Trinidadian-born community advocate for seniors in Brooklyn Anthony Alexis; Xamayla Rose, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants and trustee for the Brooklyn-based Christopher Rose Community Empowerment Campaign, which directs youth services; economist Victor Jordan; and Adina Sash, a small business owner and community activist in Brooklyn.
The 45th Council District comprises the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood and Canarsie.