Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights
Justin Cohen ★ Preferred Candidate
Occupation: Nonprofit Executive
Education: Yale University, B.A.
Candidate Website: https://www.justincohen2020.com/
Justin Cohen is a community organizer and nonprofit executive who focuses on issues of education and justice. Previously, he worked at D.C. Public Schools, served as President of Mass Insight Education, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides youth training and placement programs, and co-founded the Wayfinder Foundation. He is one of the founding members of Politicize My Death, an anti-gun violence group, and an organizer with Racial Justice BK, an interfaith advocacy organization. This is Cohen’s first time running for public office. Cohen’s top priorities include education and criminal justice reform – he stresses ending the systemic violence that oppresses Black and Brown communities and seeks to divest from policing and incarceration to invest in infrastructure and social services that promote economic stability. He also plans to fight for education and housing equity. He promises to be an advocate of greater police accountability and transparency and plans to incorporate civic education into the education system in his district. Cohen also supports Citizens Union’s reform issues, and promises to be an active check on gubernatorial power. Citizens Union prefers Cohen in this race because of his clarity on reform issues, commitment to public service, and strong and comprehensive plans for the challenges facing his district.
Occupation: Director of Special Projects, NY State Senator Valmanette Montgomery
Education: Rochester Institute of Technology, B.A.
Candidate Website: https://www.zinermanfor56ad.com/
Stefani Zinerman is a life-long Brooklynite, management professional, and community activist. She currently serves as the Director of Special Projects for NY State Senator Montgomery, where she works with local institutional boards to improve their efficacy in serving the community. She has also held leadership positions in many local organizations, including the Brooklyn NAACP, the Age-Friendly Neighborhood Committee, and the Brooklyn Complete Count Committee. Her campaign focuses on improving the educational and professional opportunities for members of her community with high-quality schools and enrichment programs, school-based health clinics, healthy aging programs, and protections for affordable housing. Zinerman opposes a number of items on Citizens Union reform issues, including, among others, replacing JCOPE, limiting outside income for state legislators, same-day voter registration, reforming the special election process, and consolidating the New York State Court system. She did not explain her opposition to these issues with either a clear position against the principle behind them or objection to specific implementation details. Citizens Union was impressed by Zinerman’s comprehension of the needs of the district and her dedication to her local community, however, we were concerned by her opposition to so many reform policies and did not feel she offered strong alternatives to the measures in our agenda. As a result, Citizens Union does not prefer Zinerman in this race.