From campaigning to candidacy
by Casey Hicks
Aug 04, 2009 | 1889 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Aug 03 09 - 06:00 PM

Bob Zuckerman first hit the campaign trail at age 11, going door to door in support of George McGovern and his 1972 presidential race against Richard Nixon. Now Zuckerman has a race of his own.

A Park Slope resident and Democrat, Zuckerman is one of five candidates running for the 39th District seat, currently occupied by Councilman Bill de Blasio. If elected, he would be the first openly gay council member from Brooklyn.

“I would certainly love to serve as a role model for other LGBT people, especially LGBT youth,” Zuckerman said.

Though he has never held a public office, Zuckerman has worked for elected officials, created and owned a small business, and led non-profit organizations, most recently as executive director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation and Gowanus Canal Conservancy.

His experience with government, business, and non-profits has taught Zuckerman that bold ideas pay off, and he has no shortage of plans for the 39th District if elected.

“I want to focus, at least for the first few years, primarily on our economy and getting people back to work,” he said.

To stimulate growth, Zuckerman is supporting a property tax incentive for owners to sell their storefronts to businesses as retail condos, which would protect business owners from rent fluctuation. He also hopes to see increased loans to help small businesses get through the economic downturn.

Zuckerman’s experience with the Gowanus Canal has shown him that the area has much potential for attracting high tech and green jobs, and he supports rezoning the area to encourage development.

He said improved transportation could also encourage Brooklyn residents to work and shop within the borough rather than hopping on the nearest train to Manhattan.To address this, Zuckerman proposes charging residents $10 a month to park their cars on the street. Zuckerman said he would use that money to fund free shuttles around Brooklyn.

“We would get cars off the road and provide a new transportation alternative, both of which contributing to how green Brooklyn is,” Zuckerman said.

Also progressive is Zuckerman’s approach to the public school system. He hopes to establish a public school based on a cooperative model, where parents would volunteer three hours a month to get involved in their children’s education.

And to remain accessible and accountable as he implements these changes, if elected Zuckerman plans to have a mobile office drive to bring his staff to the people.

He also promises to have town hall meetings once a year in each neighborhood of his district.

“Council members get paid a full-time salary. It should be a full-time job,” Zuckerman said. “No, I can’t nominate a Supreme Court justice, but you live in your community day to day. It’s your neighborhood. In that way, [the City Council] is most important.”

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