Today is Primary Day in New York City for local races. As I went to vote (for candidates for mayor, public advocate, and city council) at a local public school, I passed a table surrounded by volunteers for the incumbent, Mark Levine, and a few feet away a large sign and a young black man handing out campaign cards for the challenger, Thomas Lopez-Pierre.
After I voted, I stopped by the young man to ask him some questions about Lopez-Pierre. The candidate’s campaign materials all note that, first of all, he is Christian. This struck me as an odd way for a New York City candidate to identify himself, though many who live in the district are Hispanic, and probably Christian. Another campaign handout listed campaign contributions he had received from landlords or other real estate figures, but the photographs show obviously Jewish men wearing yarmulkes. Lopez-Pierre even explicitly claims, on his Web site, that Mark Levine is supported by “greedy landlords,” again showing those men in yarmulkes.
I had to find out what this young man thought of the overtly anti-Semitic campaign of the man whose campaign cards he was passing out. But after I’d said I wanted to ask him some questions, he explained that he probably wouldn’t be able to answer them well. You see, he had just arrived in New York a couple of weeks ago from Mississippi and had seen this job listed on Craig’s List. Aha, he was being paid; Lopez-Pierre didn’t even have enough, if any, volunteers to hand out his materials. When the young man heard what my questions were about, he was concerned and said if he’d known this, he wouldn’t have taken the job.
We then had a nice conversation. His name is Jonathan, he’s a photographer, and wants to finish his art degree. He’s come to New York because his girlfriend is attending the New School. I welcomed him to New York, and we shook hands, smiled, and exchanged names. Maybe this encounter will even get Jonathan interested in politics in his new home.
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