The Observer: Councilman Greenfield Set to Become Force in City Politics


david greenfield winsNot a stranger to local Brooklyn politics and now Citywide, Borough Park Council member David Greenfield earned the highly coveted NY Observer profile. In the profile, written by reporter Ross Barkan, Greenfield is described as the power broker for the Orthodox Jewish community and a growing political force across the City.

Greenfield, who get appointed to the prestigious Lands Use Committee last week, “is the ascendant Brooklyn power broker every developer in town will need to start schmoozing,” The Observer writes. “As land use chairman, Mr. Greenfield will be a pivotal gatekeeper, required to sign off on projects of all sizes. In addition to wielding veto power over Department of City Planning rezoning proposals, Mr. Greenfield will also have a direct line to developers, bolstering an already formidable fund-raising apparatus for a future power play—some whisper Congress, if the opportunity arises—that those around him say is inevitable.

“A moderate in a city that is swerving left, Mr. Greenfield could end up as one of the more influential politicians in this city by the next decade, particularly as the Orthodox population continues to boom,” The Observer continues. “According to those who know him well, he is right where he needs to be.”

“For real estate interests, the election of an unabashed liberal as City Council speaker this month was a setback. Another one holding the gavel of the powerful Land Use Committee could have been a real problem. So, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s appointment of Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield as chairman drew sighs of relief,” Chris Bragg wrote in Crains’s The insider blog Sunday.

Below are some excerpts of the lengthy NY Observer profile:

-“The tweet was maybe two minutes old, but David Greenfield was already walking over to the table of reporters in the City Council chamber to confront the one who had erroneously broadcast he wasn’t wearing a tie.

“You don’t see this?” asked Mr. Greenfield, the City Council’s powerful new land use committee chair. He was clenching the knot of the cream-colored tie beneath his sweater, grinning. “Correct the tweet now.” He wanted the political junkies on his Twitter feed, which he constantly monitors, Cory Booker-like, to know he was properly attired for his coronation.

The [YWN] reporter, an Orthodox Jew like Mr. Greenfield, quickly fired off a new tweet: “Correction: @NYCGreenfield DOES have a tie…”

-“Greenfield wants to be king. Everything he does is a chess move,” a person in the council told Politicker. “He has time on his side, and he’s making sure all roads lead to him being on top of the mountain eventually.”

“He’s a big guy in height, he’s a broad guy—he’s Chuck Schumer big, L.B.J. big,” said one Brooklyn Democrat who deals with Mr. Greenfield often. “When he leans in and he’s got two fingers tapping on your shoulder, you’re thinking to yourself: This must have been what it was like in the 1950s or ’60s working with Lyndon Johnson.”

-When the chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, Frank Seddio, brokered a deal with Mr. de Blasio in December to eventually elect Melissa Mark-Viverito speaker of the City Council, the city’s second-most-powerful position, Mr. Greenfield was at his side. Those close to the negotiations recall that one of the first sentences out of Mr. Seddio’s mouth was, “We need to take care of David.” Some liberals chafed at the idea but understood that was the price of doing business after Brooklyn provided the needed votes.

-Mr. Greenfield leaped into a 2010 City Council special election as an underdog: He was up against a candidate backed by Mr. Hikind. The assemblyman’s pick, the candidate supported by many of the district’s rabbis, the traditional vote-getters, was soon routed. Mr. Greenfield won overwhelmingly, crafting a coalition of younger Orthodox and non-Jewish voters.

Mr. Hikind, a firebrand as interested in protecting Israel as fixing potholes on 13th Avenue, took notice. The two regularly endorse competing candidates and wage proxy skirmishes. Both are ardent Zionists, but Mr. Greenfield is far less of a bomb thrower than Mr. Hikind, who once dressed in black face and compared homosexuality to incest.

In a Facebook post last year that was later removed, Yoni Hikind, the son of Mr. Hikind, called Mr. Greenfield a “horrible/dangerous/evil person,” someone who “only wants to hurt and intimidate.” (Father and son declined to speak with Politicker.)

-Mr. Greenfield engenders a brand of awe and resentment rarely found among local lawmakers. Allies describe him as a true nuts-and-bolts idealist, laboring on small bore quality-of-life issues for constituents while holding himself to high ethical standards. Aides claim that he works so hard he sleeps only four hours per night.

(Jacob Kornbluh – YWN)


  1. “Greenfield is described as the power broker for the Orthodox Jewish community and a growing political force across the City”

    growing political force…this is probably alluding to the idea of Greenfield becoming the next city council speaker, a position he already publicaly acknowledged he is coveting. Assuming that happens, I see no reason why David won’t be a legitimate candidate for mayor in 2021, when DeBlasio will be termed out of office.