Special election called for March 22 to fill Richardson’s central BK Assembly seat

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Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday called a special election for March 22 in central Brooklyn’s 43rd Assembly District, recently vacated by Diana Richardson.

Richardson vacated her seat, which she’d held since 2015, last month after being named a Deputy Borough President under new beep Antonio Reynoso. She will join new beep Antonio Reynoso at Borough Hall after representing the 43rd District — Prospect Lefferts Gardens, along with parts of Crown Heights and Flatbush — for the last seven years.

The district has a population of 127,510 — 59 percent of whom are Black and 18 percent of whom live below the poverty line, about 1.3 times the rate in New York, according to the 2019 American Community Survey. Democrats dominate in the district; nearly 90 percent of voters in the 43rd selected Joe Biden in the 2020 election, compared to just over 10 percent voting for Donald Trump, according to precinct level data compiled by the CUNY Graduate Center’s Redistricting and You project.

“Central Brooklyn has been exceptionally well-served by Assemblymember Richardson and the entire borough will be better off for having her in Borough Hall,” the governor said in a statement. “The residents of the 43rd Assembly District will make their voices heard next month and I look forward to building a productive working relationship with their next representative.”

A number of candidates have already come forward to contest the race. Richardson told Brooklyn Paper last month that she will back Jelanie DeShong, currently Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs under Hochul. She’s joined by her close allies State Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Rep. Yvette Clarke.

Also in the running is Brian Cunningham, former Chief of Staff to Council Member Laurie Cumbo who ran for the 40th Council District seat in 2017 and 2021. He has the backing of the 40th’s new Councilmember Rita Joseph.

Other candidates include Tim Hunter, former spokesperson for State Sen. Julia Salazar and now working for advocacy group Citizen Action; Pierre Albert, a former aide to Eric Adams when he served as a State Senator and to Richardson’s Assembly predecessor Karim Camara; and Sharon Wedderburn, who ran in the 35th Council District last year.

The Democratic nominee will be selected in a vote of the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s County Committee; a spokesperson for the county party could not immediately provide a date for that vote. The party and its chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn have not indicated a preference, though Bichotte Hermelyn and Richardson famously do not get along well.

The candidates participated in a forum hosted by the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association on Monday, Feb. 7, and on Valentine’s Day will participate in a forum hosted by the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

The candidates forum will be live-streamed on the Kings County Democratic County Committee Facebook and YouTube pages.