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'Shock Jock' Makes Last-Minute Entry Into UWS City Council Race

By Emily Frost | August 6, 2013 8:57am
 Braunstein has lived on the Upper West Side for 22 years, he said. 
Aaron Braunstein is the 8th City Council Candidate
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A self-proclaimed "shock jock" who doubles as a boxing promoter is considering a new career — as a member of the City Council to represent the Upper West Side.

Aaron Braunstein, who said he's lived in the neighborhood on West End Avenue for 22 years, has made an 11th hour bid to join the District 6 race to replace Gale Brewer, who cannot run again because of term limits.

According to the city's Board of Elections, Braunstein, who will run as a Democrat, is throwing his hat in a crowded ring: seven other hopefuls, some of whom have been campaigning and fundraising since early 2012, are already in the race.

Braunstein, whose bi-weekly radio show "Wise Guys, Black Guys and Rabbis" is on WSRN AM 620 late at night, is also the co-founder of the Israel Professional Boxing Association, according to his website

Though Braunstein does not have an official website or social media presence as a candidate, nor had he filed any financial disclosure statements with the Campaign Finance Board as of Monday, he's spoken optimistically of his ability to gather support. Speaking to Jewish talk show host Nachum Segal last week, Braunstein said he hoped to garner support from other Jews in the community.

"I'm really hoping for all the observant Jews to vote for one of their own," he said.

As nonprofit organizations, however, community synagogues cannot weigh in on specific candidates. Local groups like the Jewish Community Center cannot pick sides, either.

Still, Braunstein believes his personality will help him stand out. He thinks his signature hairstyle, too, will be a hit with the electorate.

"I have like a pony tail," he told Segal. "The Upper West Side loves pony tails."

Beyond his looks and sense of humor, Braunstein said his campaign will focus on fighting what he considers are high rents in the neighborhood. 

"I can't take all the rents...I'm taking on the big landlords," he told Segal.

He added that he is "self-financed" and a true "independent" who "took money from no one."

Braunstein did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

On Aug.1, Braunstein participated in his first debate hosted and taped by the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, which will be aired later this month, the network said. The debate also featured the six other Democratic Party candidates: Ken Biberaj, Debra Cooper, Noah Gotbaum, Marc Landis, Helen Rosenthal and Mel Wymore.

Tom Siracuse, a member of the Green Party who is running for the seat as well, was not present. 

Several of the candidates who met Braunstein for the first time said he made a good first impression.

"I was pleased to meet Aaron at the MNN debate," Rosenthal said. "He seems like a nice person and I welcome him to the race." 

Landis, meanwhile, said even though he and Braunstein disagree on a lot of issues, another voice to the race would benefit voters in the long run.

"As long as he can have an honest debate about the issues that affect the Upper West Side, then his presence in the race will simply give voters the opportunity to choose between very different visions for our community," he said.