Editorial: Make Epstein an Assembly member

On April 24, there will be a special election in which voters of the 74th Assembly District will choose their next Assembly member. There are four candidates on the ballot, but we are solidly in camp Harvey.

Harvey Epstein, a social justice attorney, is no stranger to the community he hopes to represent. Over a decade ago, when residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were being issued residency challenges like they were going out of style, it was Epstein who ran a free legal hotline for tenants. More recently, he served for five years as a tenant member of the Rent Guidelines Board and in two of those years, the board issued rent freezes for tenants signing one-year leases and low increases for those signing two-year increases.

If someone wants to top that act, they’ll need to get a rent freeze for three years or a rent rollback. (And hey… please do try!) But since none of the other candidates have yet managed to demonstrate how they’d be a better champion for affordable housing, we don’t see why voters should favor someone’s campaign promises over someone’s results.

Further, being an attorney, Epstein is well-versed in the challenges faced by the city’s renters, in no small part due to regulations that are decided upstate. Vacancy decontrol, major capital improvements, stabilized rents that are not necessarily affordable — Epstein has already seen it all.

Epstein is, of course, already expected to win anyway, after having bested two other Democrats in the County Committee’s nomination earlier this year and the endorsements of local elected officials. But his experience, not his popularity, is what has convinced us.

While electing a Democrat to an Assembly seat formerly held by a Democrat doesn’t necessarily change the dynamics in Albany (the Assembly is already Democrat-controlled), it is still always important to get the best candidate for the job.

Epstein’s opponents are Republican Bryan Cooper, the Green Party’s Adrienne Craig-Williams and Juan Pagan, a Democrat running on the Reform Party line.

Town & Village has interviewed each candidate and all are solidly pro-tenant and for keeping rents truly affordable for the middle class and the poor. Hopefully they will continue this fight as activists since it is still an election year in Albany, and with primaries ahead, their passion is needed.

We also hope voters will take a moment in a non-presidential election year to support Epstein this Tuesday.

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