Rank Your Choice!

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By Lou Cespedes

– Choice is the cornerstone of our American “way of life.” It is the foundation of our democracy and electoral system. The choice is a fundamental Christian concept, one defined by the beginning of scripture in Genesis. The choice is what we pride ourselves on as an advanced Western society. We can choose cornflakes; we can choose automobiles to choose to work (or not). We can choose who we want to spend our lives with, and we can choose good or evil. We are always presented with choices; it is a fundamental part of our human condition.

So, what is a “false choice”? A false choice is when an abstract concept is presented to you that denies you any real freedom to exercise your judgment in selecting something to your benefit. For example, I present you with 2 options for your child’s schooling. You can choose a failing public school or choose a private school you cannot afford. Is this really a choice? No! It isn’t.

Earlier this week, a colleague and community organizer, Ms. Xamayla Rose, wrote an op-ed for a competing paper discussing Rank Choice Voting’s virtues. Last year the voters of the city approved the “Rank Choice Voting” measure. Its implementation is designed to give voters more “choice” in picking candidates through the party’s primary process. We have closed primaries in New York City, so you can only vote in the primary of the Party you are registered with. In the Democratic primary next June, you, the voter, will get to rank your candidates in order of “preference.” This “ranking” system’s purpose is for you, the voter, to align most closely your first, second, and third choice candidates, therefore allowing greater opportunity for lesser candidates to prevail. But what happens if you don’t know anything about the candidates? How are you ranking them? How can you rank what you don’t know?

Petitioning for the ballot begins March 3rd. During this time, candidates will be out on the street, risking their health during a pandemic to collect their signatures on a petition. We must collect 270 signatures as per Gov. Cuomo’s legislation adopted last week. For you to “have a choice,” candidates must qualify for the ballot. You can only sign petitions for one candidate per primary, and you must be registered in the Democrat Party. How would you know whose ballot petition to sign if you don’t know anything about the candidates’ positions? How would you then give yourself candidates to “rank” if you only have one choice? That is a false choice!

The Brooklyn Democratic Party and its chair, Rodneyse Bichotte, has a virtual blackout on the election in the 45th councilmanic district. Bichotte’s candidate, current CM Farah Louis, really doesn’t need any more help within the party. She is the incumbent. Rodneyse Bichotte is hellbent on denying you the opportunity or information you’ll need to “choose.” Over the last year, her track record as leader of the Kings County Democratic Committee underscores her tactics to undermine fairness in the democratic process. CM Farah Louis is all too willing to oblige because, as Rodneyse Bichotte’s avatar, she cannot defend her own positions.

So, in the spirit of solidarity for our community, here is what I propose. We have 3 candidates running in the 45th council district. I will offer my op-ed space of 800 words to my opponent Anthony Beckford to make his pitch to voters. I will follow with my 800-word pitch the following week. If Farah Louis wants to make her pitch to voters, she is welcome to join our town-hall planned for later February.

Many people believe that politics is a blood sport and that persons with different views and ideas cannot have an open, honest exchange of ideas. I believe “Flatbush Deserves Better.” I know that only an informed and educated electorate can help us achieve the kind of progress we need in our community, the kind of progress our current leaders cannot provide. We need real choices. We are those choices. In this short series,

allow yourself to learn about us and vote. Rank your Choice!

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