Brooklyn Lawyer Challenges Sen. Hamilton

Zellnor Myrie addressing the “Women Celebrating Women” Awards gala in Brooklyn, organized in March by the Progressive Democrats Political Association. Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman in the City Council and mother of Rep. Yvette Clarke, serves as its president. (Photo by Nelson A. King via Caribbean Life)

Zellnor Myrie, 31, who is challenging state Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D–20th District), described himself as a “real Democrat who will work with the rest of my Democratic colleagues in Brooklyn — all of whom vote with Democrats — to get our communities what they deserve” in an interview with Caribbean Life’s Nelson A. King.

The lawyer and son of Costa Rican immigrants, with grandparents from Jamaica, drew a distinction between “real” Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference – a group of Democratic state legislators who have formed alliances with Republicans, of which Hamilton is a member.

“We can pass the Liberty Act, which would give every immigrant facing deportation a lawyer, and the DREAM Act, which would allow children who were born in another country, but who were raised in New York, to get financial aid to go to college,” he continued. “These are common sense protections that have passed in the Assembly every year, but which meet their demise in the Republican-IDC controlled Senate.”

Myrie spoke about the housing crisis, calling it the “civil rights issue of our generation” and asserting his support for a “vast expansion” of rent-regulated housing.

He said there are currently more than 50,000 rent-regulated apartments in the 20th Senatorial District, including the apartment that he grew up in.

“As it did for my mother, each of those apartments amounts to a chance for a family to achieve its version of the American dream,” he said. “Each of those apartments is a foundation on which a successful life may be built. It doesn’t take a lawyer — or a scholar — or a study — to see how important this is, both to families struggling to make ends meet, and to the larger community around them.

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He said now is not the time for “lukewarm New York Democrats to be cozying up to wealthy developers, who have a tendency to see right through the needs of the lower classes.

“Nor is it the time to abandon those who would most benefit from our assistance,” he added. “And yet, my opponent has aligned himself with the state’s Republicans, showing us exactly where his sympathies lie.”

Go to Caribbean Life for more on Myrie, including his experience working in the City Council.

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