On the Record
by Daniel Bush
Mar 24, 2009 | 2915 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ken Baer is everywhere. On any given day the energetic candidate for City Council can be seen passing out campaign literature on the streets of Park Slope or attending meetings in Williamsburg or at public hearings at Borough Hall.

Perhaps Baer knows his work is cut out for him: the 33rd Council District - currently held by Councilman David Yassky, who will vacate it this fall to run for comptroller - represents an unusually long, narrow swath of Brooklyn that runs from Greenpoint all the way south into Park Slope. Just covering the district's ground is a full-time job, but no matter for Baer, a lifelong environmentalist and Sierra Club activist. He likes a good hike through the (political) wilderness.

"I'm able to listen to people very well. I'm out in the street a lot and have contact with people face-to-face," said Baer in an interview, between campaign appointments. "Public policy is very important. It makes a difference in people's lives and I think I can affect that in a positive way."

Baer said his time listening to voters' concerns has helped him craft a concrete set of legislative priorities if he were elected, starting with job creation.

Baer proposes establishing employment incubators in every borough. These centers, said Baer, would be staffed by a team of volunteer experts and would offer novice entrepreneurs and small business owners operating space and the guidance and technical expertise to build profitable companies.

The candidate also recommends reinvesting the city's pension funds into capital works project to improve infrastructure - a move, Baer argues would help reduce the city government spending waste. "We need to find more efficiencies within the budget," said Baer.

At the same time, Baer said, as a council member he would advocate for an increase in education and cultural arts spending.

"I'm opposed to any cuts to the total budget in the Department of Education in the long term," said Baer. "We need to try and expand classes and programs in the arts, music, and other creative endeavors."

Baer, 60, was born in Manhattan but has lived in Park Slope for over 30 years. He became involved in local politics as the chair of the Sierra Club's New York City political group in the late 1980's. Since then Baer - a professional accountant who stopped working to campaign full time - has championed environmental rights for city residents and opposed large-scale developments like Atlantic Yards.

"I've been involved in politics all my adult life and I think I would be an exceptional City Council member," Baer said. "I'm very familiar with the issues in the communities that I would represent. I would take responsibility for the community."

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