Oct. 26, by Nathaly Pesantez
An Army veteran and former Community Board 2 member is running on the Republican and Conservative tickets to represent Council District 26, taking on incumbent council member Jimmy Van Bramer who has been in office since 2010.
Marvin Jeffcoat, a Woodside resident for 13 years who retired from the Army in 2004 after a 22-year-career, which included combat operations during Desert Storm, took a deep breath in when asked why he is running for city council.
“I’m running because I’m tired,” he said. “I’m tired of people with little life experience and common sense telling me what to do with my life.”
Jeffcoat, 52, takes issue with the overall way the city has been run, and says the mayor and city council are incompetent and fail to implement “common sense” laws.
Jeffcoat claims that lawmakers fail to think ahead when passing legislation. For example, he says new buildings and developments should only go up after factors like infrastructure and affordability are analyzed first, which the candidate believes is not being done.
The government spends money frivolously, according to Jeffcoat. The MTA, for example, is investing in Wi-Fi and countdown clocks despite a crumbling subway system. “Before they pick up the perks, they should look at what is needed,” Jeffcoat said. “Don’t tell me that you’re giving me free Wi-Fi while I’m getting late to work.” The candidate also says the city holds more sway over the MTA than what it conveys to the public.
Jeffcoat has a litany of complaints against Van Bramer, and argues that he runs the district “like a fiefdom” and that he’s forgotten about Woodside. Jeffcoat is particularly angered by what he calls Van Bramer’s “fear mongering” and divisiveness.“One big thing that really upsets me is his fear mongering—Hitler, Stalin, and Mao used the same technique,” Jeffcoat said.
Jeffcoat has blasted Van Bramer in the past, taking up issue with a post-election holiday card that showed the council member’s staff holding signs with messages like “I am Muslim & Catholic,” and “I am a feminist,” a move that Jeffcoat said was divisive.
Jeffcoat also claims Van Bramer is associated with “nefarious organizations like Black Lives Matter”, and argues that the movement has been used by Van Bramer for political gain. “Black Lives Matter is a false narrative to stoke up the Black vote because he has four major housing projects,” Jeffcoat said.
The Republican/Conservative candidate is focusing on three core issues for his campaign—education, job creation, and safer streets.
Jeffcoat supports school vouchers and charter schools, which he says will create competition and bring a better quality of education to students. “We spend so much money to graduate illiterate children,” Jeffcoat said, adding that teachers are currently taught to evaluate rather than teach.
The District 26 challenger is also calling for safer streets, and thinks existing policies prevent the NYPD from doing their job. “I want to free the police up to do their job by supporting them with stop-and-frisk,” Jeffcoat said.
Job growth and economic prosperity would also be a focus for the candidate, which he says will be promoted by freeing up regulations that he says have “strangled the life out of our economy.”
Jeffcoat and his core staff of eight volunteers have been campaigning through the district, but have had difficulties in getting people to look past labels. “They say we like you and we want to vote for you—but they just don’t want to…because I’m Republican,” Jeffcoat said.
Jeffcoat voted for President Trump in the Nov. election, and continues to support him, which has put off some constituents. “You have some people that once Trump’s name is interjected, they’ve been programmed to have a vehement response,” Jeffcoat said. “I’m not going to argue with those people.”
The Council District 26 candidate, currently a facility manager at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and who lost a 2016 State Assembly run against incumbent Michael Gianaris after getting 14 percent of the vote, ultimately wants residents to know that he’s for the people, and wants to be part of the solution.
“I’m all about fairness,” Jeffcoat said. “if you have fairness in the process, you’ll have cooperation from citizens.”
Van Bramer has received $515,563 in campaign contributions for his 2017 run so far, according to filings from the Campaign Finance Board. Jeffcoat has received $8,685.
The general election is set for Nov. 7.