Back in the 80’s, Clarence Norman beat back a few challenges from islanders. In 1984 he faced two, Carl Roberts and Maurice Gumbs. Two years later, Gumbs backed off to let Roberts tackle Norman. It didn’t matter, Clarence held serve. Then there was a lull on the front, until Joan Gill stepped forward to challenge Clarence. Joan was born and bred in Brooklyn, just as James Davis was. She tackled Clarence twice; in 1992 and 1996. I managed her last campaign, and found out for the umpteenth time, that that the "powers-that-be" don’t play. We were tied up in court until one week to the primary, after being initially knocked off the ballot for some peculiarity called "pagination". Yes, this is all true, no matter how absurd it may sound. You and your supporters go door to door, solicit thousands of people to sign your petition, and county attempts to destroy your candidacy with frivolous challenges. We had to go to Federal Court to be retstored to the ballot.
After Joan came James. He tackled Clarence twice, in 1998 and 2000. In the former he came within 600 votes of pulling off an upset. He had intended to run against Clarence again in 2002, but a funny thing happened on the way to that forum; James won the 35th City Council seat in 2001. In 2002 , Panamanian-born attorney Sandra Roper tackled Norman, signalling the return of the Caribbean-American challengers. She lost. Likewise Trinidad-born attorney Ed Roberts in 2004, when the incumbent despite his 70-odd indictments, won around 70% of the vote. Go figure.
Last November, after Karim Camara won the special-election to replace his former boss Clarence Norman, speculation was rife that he would get a Caribbean-American challenge in this upcoming primary. There was some speculation that Attorney Ed Roberts was making another comeback, or even Henry Lyons (Ed’s running mate/ District Leader/2004), however, at the time of writing this article, both Roberts and Lyons are undecided.
Another attorney is making the race though, his name is Jesse Hamilton. He is a first-generation Caribbean-American (his mother was born in Barbados), and he is no stranger to the Caribbean-American community. Word is that his mother-in-law is Jamaican-born. His father ( Jesse Hamilton, snr.), was the Executive Director of Crown Heights Service Center. The family has been active in this community since Methuzaler was a baby. They are well respected. They have a record of involvement, organizing and activism in this area that is well documented.
Apart from his law degree and practice, Jesse Hamilton jnr. also possesses an MBA from LIU, and a certificate in Planning from NYU. He heads up the Rosa Parkes Political Organization of Crown Heights, and is a member of both the 71st and 77th Police Precint councils. He is a Vice-President of Community Board 8, and the President of the Lincoln Civic Block Association. One of the services that organization provides, is housing for low-income community residents.They also provide pro-bono legal services for seniors, including estate-planning and trust taxation.
Jesse was a member of School Board 17, prior to the sweeping reforms called " Bloomberg/Klein". He is 43 years young, and married with two kids. He is an articulate spokeperson for community needs and services, and stays on top of the issues affecting this city.
From this corner, the word is RUN JESSE RUN!