On Sunday, Binyomin Bendet announced his candidacy for the New York City Council to represent the city’s 48th district. He hopes to replace term-limited Chaim Deutsch in an area encompassing the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, Trump Village, Luna Park, Brightwater Towers and Midwood.
The Jewish Press: Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you choose to run for city council?
Bendet: I am a litigation attorney with a focus on business and real estate. I grew up in Flatbush and went to school at Torah Vodaas. My father, Mayer Bendet, was a writer and he also worked with Dov Hikind’s campaign – he was very involved in politics. He instilled in us a love for Torah but at the same time, it wasn’t just about learning Torah, it was about instilling values in us.
I’m also married with a five-year-old son. I come from the Orthodox community. I feel our community needs someone who can keep up the mantle of Chaim Deutsch and really push for what we need.
You’re running as a Democrat. Are you a progressive?
I usually try to avoid labels, but I’m definitely not a progressive Democrat. I believe that as a litigator – and also my personality – it doesn’t just limit me to representing the frum community. I can work with other communities as well. My father taught me how to be a mentsch. I think I could use those values and skills to make a difference. Also, I am only 29 years old, so I bring a lot of energy and I’m ready to take on big issues.
At 29 years old, you are the youngest of the candidates for District 48. This week it was reported that three Brooklyn neighborhoods had the highest number of Covid cases in the city: Sheepshead Bay, Brighton and Manhattan Beach. They are all in your district. If you were councilman today, how would you deal with this situation?
We need to bring more mobile testing units in. I learned this from Deutsch and Yeger. Part of the issue is our community has many seniors and not enough young, healthy people are testing, so you have a 17 percent positivity rate, which may not be indicative of how many people are actually positive, [but] it gives DeBlasio an excuse to go into full lockdown mode.
What are the three biggest challenges in your district?
1) I think we need to open up our businesses. I go on the train every single day. The 2 and 5 are packed – wearing masks – but packed. You’re telling me a small business can’t open? It’s crazy.
2) When Superstorm Sandy happened, no one was really prepared for the extent of the damage. And the Build It Back program has been fraught with issues. We need rainy day funds for disaster situations; put money aside in safe government investments that are also super liquid so that we can use a certain percentage right away. There are things we can do that may cost us millions now but will save us billions in the future.
3) There is a culture of anti-policing right now. We have to work with the NYPD, which I support. Crime is up everywhere in New York City and you have to ask what [caused] this rise in crime. We really have to look at the new bail reform law.