Over the last two months, The Haitian Times held a series of candidate forums to learn about the people hoping to represent the neighborhoods with the most Haitian-Americans. We would like to thank every candidate who participated in the forums and wish them all the best in serving our communities, whether as elected officials or concerned private citizens.
Ahead of early voting starting Saturday, June 12, and primary day taking place Tuesday, June 22, we will release one endorsement representing how The Haitian Times editorial staff would fill the ranked-choice ballot for each district.
Our endorsement in each race is based on those conversations and the candidates’ platforms.
District 46 endorsement
First choice: Shirley Paul
Second choice: Dimple Willabus
Third choice: Gardy Brazela
Fourth choice: Mercedes Narcisse
Back in March, as deadlines approached to submit residents’ signatures to appear on the ballot, several candidates for City Council District 46 got word that their filings would be rejected by the NYC Board of Elections. Candidate Shirley Paul decided to band together with the other candidates to call out the rival Democratic Party honcho who was trying to keep them off the ballot.
“We find it to be inappropriate to challenge at this time,” Paul said. “We’re going to do it to stand in unison with the other candidates throughout the city that are making people’s health number one.”
Ultimately, the signatures were accepted and the candidates got on the ballot for this primary. Paul’s instinct to unite with her rivals to fight a bigger threat, in the form of Frank Seddio, illustrates the type of swift, smart action local leaders need to take to advocate for fairness.
We know also from our reporting that during the pandemic, Paul has been active consistently when it came to passing out masks and helping at food distributions. The attorney also helped elderly residents sign up for vaccine appointments this winter.
However, it’s her vision for the district – which encompasses Bergen Beach, Canarsie, Flatlands, Georgetown, Gerritsen Beach, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Mill Island and Sheepshead Bay – that impressed us the most. It includes a concrete plan to address the pressing issue of foreclosure. Her idea for a basement conversion plan, if implemented, would help homeowners earn income through rent, potentially helping them retain their homes.
The district of more than 18,600 Haitian-Americans, per Census figures, includes large numbers of minority homeowners. Paul also has the legal background and gained government experience in the New York governor’s office, helping minority business owners attain financing.
For these reasons, we endorse Paul for first choice in this month’s primary for District 46. We believe her hunger to represent the district and mix of both community-facing and government experience can result in real impact for constituents, if elected.
In a race where many candidates have called for deeper community engagement from their current representatives, Dimple Willabus has prioritized government transparency. During The Haitian Times candidate forum, Willabus, a business owner, called for a dedicated community liaison in the council office. We believe she would be an accessible representative, although she lacks direct government experience and does not have the policy credentials Paul seems to possess. For these reasons, we rank her second.
Although he did not participate in our forum, we believe Gardy Brazela would also represent the district well. As a nonprofit founder with decades of experience on Community Board 18, Brazela has the community knowledge and government experience to excel. We recommend ranking him third on the ballot.
A nurse and entrepreneur, Mercedes Narcisse also has deep roots in the community as president of the 46th District Democratic Club. But during our forum, she offered less concrete solutions for improving communication and addressing district-wide challenges than the other candidates. She also seemed prone to political theatre, goading Paul into a pointless argument over a media report. The fight only showed both candidates need to be more discerning in choosing the right arguments. On our ballot, Narcisse is number four.