Brooklyn Dems elect Tremaine Wright as ceremonial party chair in closed-door meeting

Tremaine Wright
Bedford-Stuyvesant Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright.
File photo courtesy of Tremaine Wright

Brooklyn Democratic Party leaders elected outgoing Bedford-Stuyvesant Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright as the new ceremonial party chair during a closed-door virtual meeting of the party’s executive committee on Tuesday morning.

Members of the executive panel convened an emergency session on Dec. 22 at 9 am after party chair and New York Building Congress president Carlo Scissura abruptly resigned from the role on Monday, just days after he presided over a chaotic 13-hour Zoom meeting of the full party membership on Dec. 16.

Wright bested Boerum Hill District Leader Josh Skaller whom several reform-oriented party leaders put forth for the chair position during the morning vote.

Wright previously unsuccessfully ran for the state Senate seat overlapping her district, but lost to insurgent socialist candidate Jabari Brisport, despite her boasting the backing of the party apparatus and the outgoing incumbent, Velmanette Montgomery.

The outgoing lawmaker gave up her seat to run for the state house’s upper chamber, leaving freshman legislator Stefani Zinerman to take over her assembly position in January, after winning the June Democratic primary and the November general election.

The party chair position is largely ceremonial — with responsibilities such as holding the full county committee’s often raucous annual meetings — compared to the more powerful position of chair of the executive committee, which is currently held by Flatbush Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte.

Bichotte presided over Tuesday’s executive meeting, which less than half of the 42 members attended, according to one politico who tuned in.

“It was a sparsely-attended meeting,” said Greenpoint District Leader Kristina Naplatarski. “There were only about 20 people attending, less than half [of the total membership].”

Unlike previous Zoom calls of the executive committee, all members were automatically muted, with Bichotte having to unmute anyone who was willing to speak or raise objections, according to several people on the webconference.

“There were votes taken where nobody objected because nobody could, because they were muted,” said Skaller. “It’s not a great look for someone touting transparency.”

Some progressive pols claimed that the meeting was illegitimate in the first place because it violated the party’s own rules, which state that vacancies need to be filled by the larger County Committee.

The executive committee can only fill vacant positions “pending a meeting of the County Committee,” according to the rules, and reformers argued that last week’s notorious 13-hour county committee meeting is technically still ongoing, given that it was only recessed, rather than adjourned, and that any officer positions should be filled when it resumes Wednesday, Dec. 23.

“It is completely my belief that this vote was illegal,” tweeted Sunset Park District Leader Julio Peña. “County Committee has not adjourned. We are in recess — [the executive committee] does not have the authority to fill a vacancy for a meeting still in progress.”

A spokeswoman for the party did not immediately return requests for comment, but in a press release issued Tuesday, the party said Wright would serve as chair through the continuation of the County Committee meeting, during which a new slate of officers will be selected.

In the release, Wright said, “I thank Chairwoman Bichotte and the Executive Committee for electing me Chair of the County Committee. It is an honor to represent the diverse voices that comprise our Brooklyn Democratic party. Our party must represent the interests and needs of all people in our unique borough.”