Slideshow: The varied approaches of Hakeem Jeffries and Charles Barron

By Azi Paybarah

12:41 pm Jun. 11, 2012

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    The negotiator

    Before being elected to office, Charles Barron, a former Black Panther, taught conflict-resolution and negotiating tactics.

    Azi Paybarah via flickr

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    The outsider gets in

    Before being elected to office, Hakeem Jeffries was a lawyer in a large private firm. After challenging incumbent assemblyman Roger Green he found his house drawn out of the district. 

    The next time Jeffries ran, he won. 


    Marie Figueroa via

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    Charles Barron on Hillary Clinton

    In the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Barron endorsed Barack Obama and forcefully denounced New York's junior senator: "I don't think Hillary Clinton should be an option for black people. She is a conservative Democrat … She is going to protect white interests."

    Azi Paybarah via flickr

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    'A decent human being'

    In the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Jeffries endorsed Obama. In the middle of the primary, Jeffries also said Clinton needed to repair relationships with black New Yorkers.

    "It’s very important for her to engage in meaningful conversation and reconciliation to repair the damage that has been done," Jeffries told the Times in June 2008. "She is a very skilled politician and a decent human being. I’m confident she has the ability to repair the relationship, but will require tremendous and genuine effort on her part."

    Patrick Boyle via

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    'Hustlers hustling hustlers'

    When then-state senator Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate bolted from the Democratic Party, Barron said Albany Democrats were making a mistake trying to lure them back.

    "You're rewarding flip-flopping," Barron said. "You're rewarding sell-outs ... I hope the lord sends a plague on both their houses because this is hustlers hustling hustlers. And the people's agenda is never put front and center. This is about bigger offices. This is about more staff. This is about perks and pork, and this is about chairmanships, or chairpersonships."

    William Alatriste via flickr

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    'A partner and a friend' in Cuomo

    Jeffries has a broad coalition of institutional supporters. For example, he's been endorsed by Assemblyman Vito Lopez, chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic County organization, and the New Kings Democrats, a group seeking to topple Lopez.

    Sometimes this ability to balance between divergent interests has produced awkwardness. Jeffries was one of the few Assembly Democrats to have repeatedly and loudly spoken out against gerrymandering. But after Andrew Cuomo signed into law a redistricting plan that includes Republican-drawn lines in the State Senate, Jeffries reacted quietly.

    Later, a spokesperson emphasized what the two men have in common: "Assemblyman Jeffries views him [Cuomo] as both a partner and friend. They have worked closely together on progressive income tax reform, strengthening rent regulations, creating a jobs program for inner city at-risk youth and more."

    Azi Paybarah via flickr

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    'Fundamental flaws' in stop-and-frisk

    Jeffries strongly opposed the New York Police Department's widespread usage of stop-and-frisks in predominately minority neighborhoods. Jeffries said, "The disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos stopped and frisked has increased year after year, indicating fundamental flaws in the execution of the stop-and-frisk policy."

    Tracy Collins via flickr

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    Barron urges direct action

    Barron said, "When you see an officer stop and frisk someone, jump out the car and intervene."

    L magazine

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    Protecting neighborhoods from rebranding

    Jeffries has proposed to protect neighborhoods from commercial gentrification by, among other things, protecting their names from real-estate brokers.

    "I plan to introduce the Neighborhood Integrity Act," Jeffries said. "This bill will require the city to develop a community-oriented process before brokers can rebrand a neighborhood or redefine its boundaries simply for commercial purposes. These new names rarely result from community input and are often disconnected from a neighborhood’s history, culture or tradition."

    Tracy Collins via flickr

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    Barron fights gentrification in his and other neighborhoods

    Barron has voted against several rezoning plans, even when they've been supported by the local Council members. He has pushed for more affordable housing, which he said is needed to offset the effects of the Bloomberg administration's policies.

    "It seems that Bloomberg and others are still promoting development for the affluent rather than the lower income communities," Barron told a Columbia University student. “The city is in danger. Black and Latino communities and low-income communities are in danger of gentrification.”

    Steven Hirsch via