Powell Rages Against Towns in One-Candidate Debate

Last night, former Real World star and current congressional candidate Kevin Powell showed up at a public forum and endorsement vote hosted by Democracy for New York City looking for a fight with the incumbent, Representative Ed Towns. He didn’t get one.

With only one candidate present, Ken Diamondstone (who recently abandoned a planned primary challenge to State Senator Marty Connor) served as the somewhat superfluous moderator.

The group (crowd estimate: 12) met in a candlelit corner of the Boat Bar in Carrol Gardens. Surrounded by buoys and forced to yell over Buzzcocks played very loudly over the speakers in the bar, Powell gave a speech and took questions and blasted Towns for not being there.

“I think it is unfair and unwise for Mr. Towns not to show up even though we haven’t gotten to the district process,” he said.

It wouldn’t be the first time Towns took a low-profile approach to a re-election campaign. Nor would it be the first time one of his challengers complained loudly about it. In 2006, both Charles Barron and Roger Green ran against him, and consistently criticized Towns’ failure to show up for events. The final result: Towns 19,469, Barron 15,345, Green 6,237.

“I think part of the reason Mr. Towns keeps getting re-elected is because people don’t actually vote,” Powell said. He illustrated the point with his own experience, as a resident of the district, of simply voting for Towns out of habit.

After the event, Diamondstone told me that Towns’ absence was not related to congressional obligations.

“We went out of our way to have this scheduled when Congress was not in session in order to enable him to take the opportunity to be here,” Diamondstone said.

“The congressmen took the position that he’s not going to debate until after the petitioning. On the other hand, once I say what I want to say, I’m not going to be impartial anymore…” Diamondstone paused. “It would be useful for the congressmen to interact with his constituents. “

Asked for reaction, Towns’ deputy chief of staff Karen Johnson said that while DFNYC had notified the congressman about an earlier forum, "this time, they never emailed. We were never notified of the second date." She added later, "Sounds to me they knew we wouldn’t come so they didn’t even give us the courtesy to say ‘no’ to an invitation."

And on the topic of Powell’s candidacy: "Last time, he tried his 15 minutes of fame. I think he’s trying to extend it to 30."