Simon is a former teacher at Yeshiva Darchei Torah, who now splits his time between the unpaid district leader position and as a staffer for State Senator Malcolm Smith. Mirroring Goldfeder’s leadership in the White Shul and Hatzalah volunteering, Simon keeps an active presence in the Belle Harbor Jewish community. “I did not attend yeshiva, but I have been volunteering at Yeshiva of Belle Harbor since age 12, running fundraisers and carnivals. I’ve brought them into universal pre-k,” Simon said, referring to the public funding that kindergarten students receive at the yeshiva.
Supervising the eruv line on the boardwalk, the yeshiva’s principal, Rabbi Boaz Tomsky spoke of Simon’s ability to navigate bureaucracy. “We can always depend on him to look into things, but the reality is that we have to look out for what’s best for the overall community, and he helps everyone,” Rabbi Tomsky said. To that extent, Simon said that he supports local parochial schools, listing off his efforts to keep them going amid declining budgets.
While Simon expressed confidence in securing the party line, Republicans see the special election as an opportunity to win in the largely Democratic district. “We have a good candidate in Jane Deacy, she is well known as a district leader,” said Republican activist Bart Haggerty. A retired police officer, Deacy lives in Breezy Point, and knows how to bring out her party’s voters. In last year’s congressional election, she helped her party colleague and neighbor Bob Turner garner 42 percent of the vote in his unsuccessful run against incumbent Anthony Weiner. "She was instrumental in Eric Ulrich’s win,” Haggerty said, referring to Councilman Eric Ulrich, a Republican who scored an upset victory in a four-person special election in Feb. 2009. Because this year does not feature any citywide, state and federal races, turnout will likely comprise of the most loyal voters. “In a low turnout election, the prime voters will vote and a Republican
can pull ahead,” Haggerty said.
Altabe said that if enough of Goldfeder’s neighbors vote, it could defy expectations of a low turnout. “We vote as a community, and Phil has been effective in creating a voting bloc.”