Kevin Powell: "Why Is My Opponent Suing Me?"

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Congressman Edolphus Towns

Good day to you all. Today is the day we go to court for democracy.

I find it very sad and contradictory that Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns, a 27-year Democratic incumbent here in Brooklyn, New York’s 10th Congressional District, is suing me. Like him, I am a life-long Democrat. Like him I was born in another state but came to Brooklyn at a relatively young age and served my community in a variety of capacities before seeking public office. And like Mr. Towns, who lived through the Civil Rights Movement and is now 76, I am African American.

This is why the entire spectacle of Mr. Towns suing a fellow Democrat to prevent him from being on the Democratic primary ballot on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 is sad and contradictory. Sad because it says that Mr. Towns and his team are now so nervous about my Congressional campaign that they are resorting to the same kind of legal maneuvers that once prevented Blacks like him from voting in America. Doubly sad because this legal tactic has become common in Brooklyn Democratic Party politics. It was done by then party boss Clarence Norman to Charles Barron in 1997. It was done by Assemblywoman Annette Robinson to Cenceria Edwards in 2008. And now it is being done to me in 2010. And the lawsuits are always so predictable. In my case it is being stated that I do not live in the district, even though I have lived most of my 20 years in New York City in Brooklyn’s 10th Congressional district — and I am a very well-informed and engaged citizen, so I certainly know who reps me on all levels.

After our many volunteers worked diligently for a month collecting 8,200-plus signatures — signatures that were very carefully reviewed by our petition consultants — it is being alleged that we’ve committed fraud. I am here to say that Mr. Towns and his team are wrong on these and all counts. I certainly live in the district, have proof of it, and we certainly have more than enough legitimate signatures to be on the ballot (1,250 signatures are needed to be on the ballot for this particular race).

The real issue here is about American democracy. It is clear that Mr. Towns, and a few others in our Democratic Party right here in Brooklyn, really do not believe in democracy at all. If Mr. Towns did, we would not hear the endless stories from voters in our Congressional district about being threatened with job loss or the ending of funding support simply for supporting me publicly. Or what of one woman supporter, just last Thursday night, July 29, 2010, at approximately 10pm, who had a mysterious man and woman show up at her home, awake her and her son, claiming to be “officials from the Board of Elections?” When the woman asked for identification the pair ran back to their car and sped off.

These kinds of scare and bully tactics might have worked in the old Brooklyn, but they are not going to work in the new Brooklyn. For there is a new generation of residents, engaged citizens, and, yes, leaders, who do not subscribe to clubhouse or machine-style politics. Our belief is that a public servant, whose salary is paid for by taxpayers, is here to help the people, period. That means any and all public servants owe it to the people to be accountable, visible, and accessible. And when challenged in a campaign, to participate in public debates and the free exchange of ideas and solutions, with the voters — not a courtroom — deciding who should win an election. In essence, by attempting to get me off the ballot Mr. Towns is pushing for a Tuesday, September 14 Democratic Primary where the voters will have no choice but him. How is this any different than what the Dixiecrats pulled in Southern states like North Carolina, where Mr. Towns was born in 1934, during segregation?

Finally, this whole circus of Mr. Towns suing me is so contradictory to the very principles of our nation, is an incredible waste of taxpayer dollars, and is nothing more than him stalling the inevitable: Kevin Powell will be on the ballot on Tuesday, September 14, 2010. We’ve been running a clean, responsible, and transparent campaign the entire way; we’ve picked up waves of support across Brooklyn, and beyond, and we know that the people of our borough, and of nation, want a new direction, and fresh voices, for these times. No matter what Mr. Towns and his team do or say, they simply cannot stop the changing of the guard that is now here and ready in America. It is our time.

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