Local Progressives Submit Challenge to Sheldon Silver’s L.E.S. Political Club


Caroline Laskow and Lee Berman are running for Democratic District Leaders against Silver’s political allies on Grand Street

More than 1,200 Democrats signed petitions over the past four weeks to put two new progressive candidates on the ballot for Democratic District Leaders on the Lower East Side. This represents the first real challenge to former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s political club following his conviction on federal fraud, extortion, and money laundering charges.

Caroline Laskow, a documentary filmmaker and author (she co-wrote The Soup Club Cookbook with three neighbors), has lived in Seward Park Cooperative since 2003 with her husband and two children who attend public school. Lee Berman, a lifelong East River Cooperative resident, has been an active public school parent in the district, serves on the board at East River, and was recently appointed to Community Board 3.

They are challenging the incumbent District Leaders, Karen Blatt and Jacob Goldman, who are the candidates of the Truman Democratic Club, “a longtime base of support for Mr. [Sheldon] Silver” (WSJ, 4/12/16 link). The Daily News says that even after his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2015, “Disgraced former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver appears to still be pulling strings” (link).

Said Laskow, “We want our elected officials to hear our community’s concerns about traffic on Grand Street, overcrowded schools, and excessive development. The Truman Club has done nothing to organize Democrats on Grand Street despite the many challenges facing our neighborhood.”

The candidates also won’t shy from national party issues. “Ours is a strong Democratic district,” said Berman. “We should be joining with other Democrats to engage in meaningful action against Trump’s radical policies. The Truman Club didn’t even hang up a Hillary poster in its window last year. It’s time for new, progressive leadership on Grand Street.”

Laskow and Berman also lead a full slate of challengers for the Democratic County Committee in Assembly District 65 Part A. Last year the Truman Club’s County Committee members were criticized for selecting a candidate to succeed Silver based on that person’s long, friendly ties to Silver; when Democratic voters weighed in a few months later, the Truman Club candidate came in fourth in a six-way primary.

After this year’s election on September 12, these new County Committee candidates, along with Laskow and Berman, plan to form a new Democratic club called Grand Street Democrats in order to further reduce the influence of Silver’s Truman Club on local politics.


Lee Berman and Caroline Laskow, candidates for Democratic District Leaders, Assembly District 65 Part A (Photo credit: Larry Bercow)

For more information, please contact:
Jeremy Sherber, campaign manager, Grand Street Democrats
jeremy@sherber.com | 917-543-3918 | grandstreetdems.nyc | @grandstreetdems