Flatbush shakeup signals end of Jacobs era

Flatbush shakeup signals end of Jacobs era
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

The upstart has it.

Rodneyse Bichotte clinched the Democratic nomination for Flatbush’s 42nd Assembly District in Tuesday night’s primary with 2,669 votes to foe L. Rickie Tulloch’s 1,592, with 96 percent of the votes counted. Tulloch was the pick of outgoing Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs who is retiring after 35 years in office and his defeat at the hands of Bichotte is a notch in the belt of the ascendant Working Families Party, which struggled to gain ground elsewhere in Brooklyn this go-round. Bichotte explained her win by saying her time has come.

“This was the year for victory. This was the year for change. And I’m just excited and overwhelmed,” Bichotte said immediately after announcing her victory to supporters at Tonel Bar and Lounge on Rogers Avenue in Flatbush.

Bichotte will go on to face Republican Matthew Williams and Conservative Brian Kelly in the November general election, but her victory over the relative unknowns is likely imminent in a district that has elevated a Democrat to office for decades.

Bichotte’s victory comes after the bottom fell out of her attempt to unseat longtime Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs in 2012.

Jacobs, who held office since 1978, tapped Tulloch as her heir after announcing she would not seek a 19th term earlier this year. Tulloch, a two-time Council candidate and Assembly hopeful, also got nods from the city’s largest municipal workers and teachers unions.

But Bichotte nabbed bigger endorsements from Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, several labor unions, and the experienced campaigners at the Working Families Party. During her victory speech, she indicated she would reward benefactors for their support.

“I can’t wait to sit down with The Blaz, local electeds, and my advisory team,” she said.

“You better listen, though,” quipped Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush).

Bichotte bested her biggest opponent in the election and on the fund-raising front. She vastly out-fund-raised and outspent Tulloch, raking in $189,945 to her opponent’s $45,314, state records show. Bichotte spent $30,871— mostly on wages, office space, and campaign literature, but she bought no airtime for advertisements. Out of $9,465 Tulloch spent, he dropped the most on a $3,000 television ad buy in late March, state records show.

The election marks a turning point in neighborhood politics.

Bichotte is the first Haitian-American to represent the district, which has included a large Caribbean-American population since a redistricting in the 1980s.

“This district has been ignored for a long time,” she said. “We’re going to bring change.”

Also-rans Michele Adolphe and Victor Jordan came in with 800 and 306 votes respectively.

Bichotte comes to the office from her role as female district leader, an unpaid but influential Democratic Party position.

Just 5,400 of 54,000 registered Democrats in the district turned out to vote, according to preliminary poll results.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeg‌er@cn‌gloca‌l.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.