• Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

candidates take opposing stances on rodent killing in Brooklyn Assembly contest

candidates take opposing stances on rodent killing in Brooklyn Assembly contest


A new front in the war on rats has opened in the race for Brooklyn’s 56th Assembly district — with challenger Eon Huntley in favor of a no-kill, birth-control approach to curbing the exploding rodent population and incumbent Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman supporting one including extermination.

Huntley, who’s backed by the Democratic Socialists of America and is a protege of state Sen. Jabari Brisport, told the Daily News on Friday that killing rats sends the wrong message and is “not really the solution.”

It makes more sense, he said, to give the critters birth control and have the city Sanitation Department step up its efforts to keep streets clean.

“The idea of thinking that killing individual, random rats is going to bring about a solution is, I think, wrong-sided,” Huntley said.

He said he didn’t own a pet rat but made a comparison to another widespread city denizen.

“I don’t think about like, you know, ‘Oh, I don’t like pigeons, so we should be, like, shooting them out of the sky,’” Huntley said.

Eon Huntley is in favor of a no-kill, birth-control approach to curbing the exploding rat population. (@eonforassembly via X)
Eon Huntley is in favor of a no-kill, birth-control approach to curbing the exploding rat population. (@eonforassembly via X)

Much of the race between him and Zinerman has been dominated by debate over affordable housing, deed theft, public safety and, from Huntley’s perspective, Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks. But rats are also a major concern among residents.

The Bedford-Stuyvesant Assembly district they’re running for is struggling with one of the worst infestations in the city and also encompasses Mayor Adams’ residence, which has been hit with several rat-related violations over the last two years.

Adams has made reducing the city’s rat population a policy centerpiece — and the subject of much mirth dating back to his time as Brooklyn borough president, when he drowned rats in a caustic liquid at a press conference.

More recently, his quest to take down the furry, four-footed nuisance has taken on the feel of a schtick, with the mayor frequently intoning with a smile: “I hate rats.”

Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman (Jeff Bachner/New York Daily News)
Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman speaks during the ceremonial renaming of Greene St. in Bed-Stuy to Max Roach Way on Wednesday. (Jeff Bachner/New York Daily News)

But not everyone has been amused or agrees with Adams’ death-to-rats approach.

Huntley’s stance on the cheese-eaters aligns with that of his mentor, Brisport, who along with animal rights activists wrote to then-BP Adams in 2019 to criticize him about his unorthodox rat-murder methods.

“Rats are wildlife, and part of our urban ecosystem,” they wrote at the time. “Rats live emotionally rich lives, form strong interspecies bonds, have rituals, and mourn family losses.”

Huntley did not go that far in his rhetoric on rats, but his position is much different than his opponent’s.

Rats

A rat crosses a Times Square subway platform in New York.

Richard Drew/AP

A rat crosses a Times Square subway platform in New York. (Richard Drew/AP)

Zinerman’s spokeswoman Lupe Todd-Medina noted that the assemblywoman isn’t at all opposed to killing rats and poked fun at Huntley’s stance on rat birth-control, saying that it’s “the first time in this campaign we’ve heard the other side discuss reproductive rights.”

“The historic brownstones of the 56th district have been overrun with rats that burrow into the foundations, eat through wires and disrupt life for legacy homeowners and their renters,” Todd-Medina said. “Rats are a health risk and carry diseases. Eradicating the rat population is necessary for the protection of our families, children and four-legged pets.”



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