He is not one to try to claw his way to the top of the Assembly “food chain” with the aim of getting a better committee assignment or member items in the budget.
Our priority is to determine whether he has been effective enough for his community to endorse, or should we recommend an opponent over a first-term elected official.
Barnwell won the seat by defeating longtime incumbent Margaret Markey in the Democratic primary two years ago. The top issue was the use of a hotel, the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth, for a homeless shelter.
Groups in the community were successful at having voters believe that Markey was to blame. Upstart Barnwell won easily in the primary and walked to victory.
His opponent, Melissa Sklarz, is a progressive leader in the LGBT community, and a member of the Electoral College in 2016.
In our conversations with Sklarz, we saw someone who is capable. However, Barnwell has earned our support to continue to serve.
We look at factors, like what he stands for as a person. We see Barnwell as someone who is not swayed by the internal politics, doesn’t look to give up his values and, although he might not always be in line with his caucus, would protect his community.
We see him as responsive to his constituents.
Barnwell is an avid reader and interpreter of the bills that come before the legislature, and has sponsored more than we originally gave him credit for.
One bill we spoke to him about would allow judges to impose a sentence of life imprisonment, with or without parole, for certain felony offenses.
“Tying the hands of a judge is not good for our system,” he said.
We think that’s all you need to know. We endorse Barnwell for State Assembly.