Bay Ridge

Democratic Socialists vow ground war to help elect El-Yateem

June 8, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Rev. Khader El-Yateem says he is proud to be a member of the New York City Democratic Socialists of America. Eagle file photo by John Alexander

Political organization backed Bernie Sanders in 2016

The political organization that backed Bernie Sanders for president is now setting its sights on the City Council campaign in Bay Ridge. The New York City Democratic Socialists of America Political Committee is launching an all-out effort to get Democrat Rev. Khader El-Yateem to the Council.

El-Yateem is a member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and if elected, would be the first Arab-American to ever serve on the City Council.

The DSA will hold a rally for E-Yateem on Saturday, June 10 at the An Noor Center, 7114 Fifth Ave. in Bay Ridge at 1 p.m.

Hoping to build on the excitement surrounding the Sanders campaign in 2016, the DSA is planning to mobilize its 2,000 members to win a ground war to get El-Yateem elected, leaders said. Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, generated a great deal of excitement across the country with his presidential campaign last year before losing the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton.

DSA leaders point out that El-Yateem has already raised more than $90,000 for his campaign to date and has refused to accept donations real estate developers.

“We will replace the corrupt mainstream ‘progressive’ politicians of this city with those who are actually accountable to the interests of the people. El-Yateem is Trump’s worst nightmare. He supports immigrants, is Arab-American and explicitly refuses to take money from developers,” said NYC-DSA Co-Chairwoman Rahel Biru.

El-Yateem, pastor of Salam Arabic Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge, is one of four Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to run in the general election in November in the 43rd Council District. The field of candidates includes Justin Brannan, Kevin Peter Carroll and Nancy Tong. The Republicans running for the council seat are Bob Capano, Liam McCabe and John Quaglione.

The council district covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights and includes parts of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile, a Democrat, who has held the seat since 2003, cannot run for re-election due to the city’s term limits law.

DSA is solidly behind El-Yateem, according to Abdullah Younus, a DSA member who lives in Bay Ridge.

“For the first time in my community, we are seeing a candidate with a truly progressive vision. Khader El-Yateem has worked for years to build bridges in the Bay Ridge community, and has dedicated his life to its residents, regardless of their class, color or creed. He has been a vocal supporter of police reform, affordable housing and immigrant rights,” Younus said.

El-Yateem said he is grateful for DSA’s endorsement. “I am proud to be endorsed by DSA, and I am proud to be a member. Together, we will fight to end inequality, and work to ensure that everyone in this city is treated with dignity and respect,” he said in a statement.