Tuesday, June 26
7:23 a.m.: The lobby area of P.S. 3 on Linden Boulevard and Bradford Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn, buzzed with quiet excitement: City Councilman Charles Barron, was expected to walk in any minute.
It’s an election day for the congressional primary in New York City. And Barron, who represents East New York, and State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, both are vying to be the next Democratic candidate representing the 8th C.D. and soon will be expected to cast their votes.
At P.S. 3, about a dozen voting inspectors sit behind tables divided by election district, waiting for voters. Between 6:50 a.m. – 7:20 a.m., only two people have trickled in to vote and have left. One voter, Samuel Woodbury, Jr., voted for Charles Barron and said he’s confident Barron will win.
“Charles Barron is the one, and he’s gonna win,” said Woodbury, 59. “He’s gonna win because he’s a freedom fighter. He fights for everybody, the Italians, Irish, the Catholics, the Jews, black people, white people, the Mexicans… Jeffries is just a politician.”
7:51 a.m.: Barron walks in with his wife, Inez Barron. They shake everyone’s hands. “This is a hard decision for me, huh?” jokes the city councilman as he picks up his pen to vote. He casts his ballot, gives a thumbs up, grants a few interviews for reporters and then leaves.
8:33 a.m.: The gymnasium inside of P.S. 256, The Benjamin Banneker School, on Kosciuszko Street and Nostrand Avenue in Beford-Stuyvesant—also part of the 8th C.D. – is filled with voting inspectors and volunteers, yet, is virtually empty of voters. One Bed-Stuy resident, 90-year-old Cohen Galloway, casted his vote and left the quiet gymnasium. He said he voted for Barron.
“I voted for Barron because I know about him,” said Galloway. “I don’t know anything about the other guy. But I know Barron stands up for us, that’s all I know.”
Mr. Jinkins, vice-president of the PTA at P.S. 256, said he was voting for Jeffries because he’s sees him out in the community often.
“I first saw him at this blood drive I went to; that’s when I first heard him speak,” said Jinkins. “He was telling us that black men need to get more involved in their community. And actually it was after listening to him speak is why I decided to come work with the PTA. I got three kids that go here, and I’m happy I’m involved.”
A school safety agent at P.S. 256, who referred to herself only as “Agent Allen,” said she was also voting for Jeffries: “I’m voting for Jeffries, because that’s my choice. He just makes better sense than Barron to me, that’s all.”
9:27 a.m.: The outside of P.S. 9 on Underhill and Bergen in Prospect Heights is flanked with Jeffries posters and other paraphernalia. Volunteers are handing out bulletins, anxious and energized, because Jeffries is expected to walk in at around 9:45 to cast his vote.
Inside, the bright, spacious gym fills with a steady stream of voters. However, after casting their ballots, voters are leaving frustrated and complaining:
“I don’t understand why Hakeem Jeffries isn't on this ballot?” said one resident to her friend, as they were leaving.
Another person mumbled the same thing as he was leaving out, “I thought I was voting for Jeffries, but Yvette Clark was the only one on the ballot…”
“A lot of people who are coming through aren’t realizing that this area is zoned between Clarke and Jeffries,” said Anita Ravenell, the voting site coordinator at P.S. 6. “Yeah, he’s only on one ballot. Out of 11 tables, he’s only in one election district, so he’s only one table.”
9:56 a.m.: Jeffries arrives, smiling wide, with his two sons who seem to be loving the attention of their dad-as-superstar on this particular day. Jeffries walks around to about six tables, shakes hands while trying not to trip over the swarm of cameras and reporters following him like bees to honey.
His sons accompany him behind the booth, one on each side, as he casts his ballot.
“Oh, I will win,” said Jeffries, when asked by one reporter what he felt were his chances. “And one of the first things we’ll need to address is fair and affordable housing in places like Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York.”
11:21 a.m.: At P.S. 270, the Dekalb School in Clinton Hill on Dekalb Avenue and Classon Avenue, is another team of Jeffries supporters, holding up signs and handing out flyers. Jeffries jumps out of a car to join them. He shakes hands and greets the passersby.
It’s close to lunchtime, and the inside gymnasium of P.S. 270 is filling up with voters.
“I voted for Charles Barron,” said Harold Mansfield, 77, as he was leaving. “I vote every year, every chance I can get. I always voted for Ed Towns because he takes care of us seniors, and he said Barron was his man, so that’s my man.”
“I hope this is a slam dunk,” said another voter who was leaving. “I voted for Hakeem, because he’s not as brash as that other guy. And I believe he will take care of what he needs to take care of.”
But Rene Collymore, founder and president of the Parliament Democratic Club in Fort Greene, who was now outside of the school campaigning alongside of Jeffries said the assemblyman was the clear choice: “This is one of the most exciting races going on right now. And the community appreciates both candidates, but in District 56 and 57, we want Jeffries. He’s a young man, a rising star and the best choice, not only for 57, but for the nation.”