By Daniel Roberts
This morning, in Bill Thompson’s home base of Bedford-Stuyvesant, people admitted to feeling frustrated. ‘Thompson for Mayor’ signs still hang from traffic light poles. “Endorsed by President Barack Obama,” they say.
For many, the fact that Thompson challenged Bloomberg to such an extent—he lost by a mere 4.6% and won the Brooklyn vote—only heightened the impact of his loss. “I’m very, very disappointed that he didn’t win,” said Ban Leow, who is originally from Malaysia and now runs CasaBAN, a modern & antique furniture store in Bed-Stuy. Leow, unlike many in the area who had hoped for a win but had their doubts, fully believed that Thompson would pull through and win. “Thompson came out very strong,” he said. “I really wanted him to win; I wanted somebody who is able to challenge a billionaire.”
Leow also commented from his perspective as a businessman. “If you ask me, as a small business owner, what Bloomberg has done for me? The answer is big fat zero. It’s a little bit of justification that he only won by five percent. Thank God for that, at least.”
Bill Thompson was born and raised in Bed-Stuy, though he attended Midwood High School. He has also, in his adulthood, lived in Park Slope and Prospect Heights; truly he is one of Brooklyn’s own. In September 2008, after his recent marriage, Thompson moved to Harlem, which is closer to the city Comptroller’s office in downtown Manhattan.
Beresford Crowder, who works at Common Ground coffee house on Tompkins Avenue, took away a similar lesson about campaign financing. Crowder said of Bloomberg’s win, “That just shows you how much 100 million dollars can buy you. Although it also shows me it didn’t buy him much, because he still only won by like five percent.”
Meanwhile, a community government leader, who could not supply a name due to office policy, told the Brooklyn Ink that just by coming so close Thompson made a statement. “Thompson kept saying the margin was very small, but the Mayor was telling everyone it was going to be huge. He was wrong,” she said. “What it means is that Thompson can be our next mayor. He’ll definitely run again.”
A colleague in the office joined the conversation: “I woke up and thought, ‘Hey, what a beautiful day! People got no excuse not to go to the polls.’”
Yesterday morning, experts were still projecting an extremely low turnout, with many sources attributing it to a generally uninterested electorate. The official turnout numbers for Brooklyn are still unavailable. New York City Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vasquez-Rivera explained that citywide turnout percentages, not to mention Brooklyn and Bed-Stuy turnout specifically, will not be ready until city officials open up the voting machines.
Wesley Darey caught up with the Brooklyn Ink while waiting for the bus. “A lot of people just didn’t vote,” she said. “I voted. But if everybody had actually voted, this guy Thompson would have won, he really would have.” Whether a higher voter turnout would have helped or hurt Thompson is not altogether clear. The only certainty is that the narrow margin of victory came as a shock to most New Yorkers.
Bill Thompson will continue to serve as Comptroller until John Liu replaces him in January 2010.