Councilman Stephen Levin has been attacked by his opponent, Stephen Pierson, for supporting Assemblyman Vito Lopez throughout his political career.
The councilman worked for Lopez, who has been dogged over the past year by sexual harassment allegations involving female staffers
At his campaign kickoff event at Borough Hall last week, Pierson criticized Levin for allocating taxpayer money to the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Center, an organization associated with Lopez.
At a recent event, Levin was asked if he thought it was fair that he was being attacked over his relationship with the assemblyman, artfully deflecting the question.
“I work day in and day out to represent the residents of the 33rd District,” he said. “I’m very proud of my record on the Council.”
Pierson, who sits on Community Board 2, notes his leadership of a non-profit organization and his 14 years living in the district as qualifications for running for office.
“I don’t have political baggage.” he said of Levin's ties to Lopez, who was head of the Kings County Democratic Party before he resigned when the allegations came to light.
Despite that, Pierson did praise Levin for some of his work on the legislative side of things.
“There are a lot of things that he has done that I support,” he said, calling Levin a “progressive.”
However, he said that it is Levin’s relationship with Lopez that caused him to throw his hat in the ring.
“When all of the details of Lopez came to light, he was the only local politician who was completely silent,” Pierson said. “I found that to be an outrage.”
Although he has not discussed his policies in detail yet, Pierson said that he plans to announce “innovative solutions” over the course of the next six weeks.
Levin said his focus is on his constituents.
“Our priority has always been to serve the needs of the residents in the district,” he said. “There is a lot that we need to talk about in a campaign, and those are the issues that are facing peoples' everyday lives.”
The councilman believes he and Pierson aren’t that different.
“I think it's clear that the same ideals that drove me to run for office four years ago are the ideals that are diving him to run for office,” he said. “We want to make a positive impact in our community.”