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'Rent is Too Damn High' Founder Endorses 'Outsider' in Harlem Council Race

By Dartunorro Clark | January 25, 2017 8:25am
 Jimmy McMillan, left, endorsed Dawn Simmons, right, for the vacated Harlem City Council seat for the Feb. 14 special election.
Jimmy McMillan, left, endorsed Dawn Simmons, right, for the vacated Harlem City Council seat for the Feb. 14 special election.
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Jimmy McMillan; Twitter/Dawn Simmons;

HARLEM — A City Council candidate, self-described as a “political outsider,” has just received backing from another outsider.

Jimmy McMillan, the founder of the Rent is Too Damn High Party threw his support behind Dawn Simmons, a former social worker and teacher, who is running for the seat in the 9th Council District.

“I'm backing (her) because she and I share the belief that the rent in New York City is too damn high and if we want New York to remain a great and diverse city, we must work together to insure that Harlem and every neighborhood in the (five) boroughs has the appropriate component of affordable housing,” McMillan said in a statement.

"But, the most important factor in my decision to back Dawn Simmons is that she's not a career politician,” he added.

McMillan, an eccentric candidate sporting black gloves and silver muttonchops, gained notoriety after he ran for governor in 2010 — and mayor in 2013 — campaigning on a single refrain: "The rent is too damn high."

The council seat Simmons is running for was vacated by Inez Dickens, who was elected to the Assembly this past November.

A nonpartisan special election will be held Feb. 14.

Simmons will appear on the Dawn for Harlem party line and McMillan’s party line.

With more than a dozen candidates running for a single seat, Simmons welcomed the endorsement.

"Throughout our city, and especially in Harlem, longtime New Yorkers are being driven from their apartments by gentrification and the resulting sky-high rents,” she said in a statement.

“It's about time that we came up with the creative solutions needed to keep our neighborhoods diverse and thriving.”

Other candidates have also picked up key endorsements in the race. 

► Larry Scott Blackmon, a FreshDirect vice president, was endorsed by Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, who previously held the seat, and former Assemblyman Keith Wright.

► Charles Cooper, a businessman and former Manhattan Community Board 9 Vice-Chair, was endorsed by a coalition of Harlem pastors.

► Marvin Holland, the political director of TWU Local 100, received endorsements from a number of tenant and block associations in Harlem.

► State Sen. Bill Perkins was endorsed by The NYC Progressive Caucus Alliance, which is a caucus of City Council members.

► Athena Moore, an aide in the Manhattan Borough President's Office, has the support of her current boss Gale Brewer, the former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.