The list of challengers looking to unseat Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D) continues to grow, this time she is facing a Republican insurgent looking to flip her seat in a heavily democratic district.
Constantin Jean-Pierre is a 47-year-old Republican running for New York’s 9th Congressional District which covers Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens, Park Slope.
“If you’re a republican it’s a uphill battle,” said Jean-Pierre, “but eventually people wake up.”
Jean-Pierre, a Haitian-American, is proud of his Brooklyn roots, originally hailing from Sheepshead Bay. He grew up loving football, playing for the Brooklyn SkyHawks team as a youth, and continues to coach football and basketball players in his neighborhood.
As a Black Republican he has vowed to use his platform to represent and bolster the interests of Black men. The Brooklynite said he is disappointed in the politics that surround him but is determined to support his community.
He said, though Clarke may be from the district, the Democrat is not for it. “She sold out the disenfranchised community in the ninth.”
Jean-Pierre says that he made the switch to being a conservative during the Bill Clinton administration because of a harrowing experience in family court over the custody of his child. “I felt educated black men were curbed from many of the policies. Ever since then I never wanted to support the Democratic Party,” said Jean-Pierre.
Constantin Jean-Pierre , a Republican candidate for New York’s 9th Congressional district with a local leader.
The Republican said that black men are dying from coronavirus because they don’t have societal benefits like health care or shelter. “If it wasn’t for Donald Trump, bringing attention, saying ‘Hey, wait a minute’. He was the first to say, ‘I don’t like the way the numbers are looking for black people’,” said Jean-Pierre, about Trump’s handling of the health pandemic.
He thinks Trump has been unfairly criticized in the media on how he addresses Black, Brown, and now, Asian communities. “Nancy Pelosi was in the middle of impeachment wasting time on a bogus trial. We could’ve been more prepared for the situation coming out of China,” said Jean-Pierre. “We have to be careful how we use the word racist. What China is doing to Africans in their country is racist.”
The Trump administration has garnered his full support. He considers the president’s approach to international relations and immigration policies a powerful direction for the country, and appreciates the federal aid that has been given to New York in its time of need.
Though the city remains in lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, Jean-Pierre continues to campaign, shoring up support by talking to the faith-based community in the borough. As a devout Baptist, the Brooklynite believes the city and state are unfairly penalizing religious groups that want and need to gather in these troubling times.
“Not the pastors, this is more like a business to them, but the people who are real churchgoers are getting frustrated with this and they don’t like it,” said Jean-Pierre.
He said the city needs to spiritually process what’s happening or there will be more instances of depression, suicide, and people subverting the rules. He spoke about the spectacle made over the Hasidic community’s recent funeral for Rabbi Chaim Mertz that ignored the city’s social distancing rules in favor of a massive gathering to pay respects to a beloved public figure.
“What the government is doing is completely disrespectful. Those people were out there peacefully, and from what I can see everybody had on their masks and gloves,” said Jean-Pierre.