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Op-ed: A party united

Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte.
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte's office

What we’re building in Brooklyn is unique — a party made up of all ideologies, races and creeds; a party with a real platform, that stands for health care for all, equity in education, affordable housing, election reform, environmental justice and criminal justice reform. It’s a process, and sometimes a messy one, but I’m proud of what we’ve done as Democrats here. We are a big tent party and I don’t believe we should be conducting important business behind closed doors. 

Participation in our party is what builds it. The inability of all wings of the party to have their voices heard, and to have a seat at the table, will tear our democracy down. The “us against them” mentality has thoroughly divided the nation. We don’t need to look far to see where that division ends. That’s why at the Brooklyn Democratic Party, we are increasing grassroots participation. The doubling of members in our party is something all Democrats, no matter their leanings, should rally around.

But, power is founded in a united party. That means that no one faction speaks for everyone.

That’s why, since I became Chair, we’ve been taking steps to make the party more inclusive and transparent. Those steps include livestreaming the Executive Committee meeting that took place Wednesday night. It was the first livestream of a leadership meeting in the party’s history.

During that meeting, we voted on a historic rule change that allows nonbinary individuals to openly serve in the Brooklyn Democratic Party. However, some comments made during the meeting were unacceptable and not reflective of the diverse, forward-thinking, united Democratic Party we are building. I was not able to preside on Wednesday and that’s why it’s so important for me to disavow comments and bullying that derailed the meeting and offended participants and viewers. 

The transgender community has always been part of our party, and I am pleased the steps we’ve taken officially acknowledge that. No one District Leader speaks for our party as a whole, not even the last party chair. Our party welcomes all backgrounds, races, genders, and ideologies. Anyone who believes in Democratic values is welcome in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, and their voice is valued.

This year, under my leadership, we won several key races in Southern Brooklyn, in some cases improving on 2018 numbers, despite efforts by the far right to unseat our candidates. We also advocated for electoral reforms that made it easier for voters to participate in our democracy, including voting by mail, and made it easier for people to understand their absentee ballots. Those reforms ultimately helped us win those contested races.

We organized a public meeting and demanded answers from the Board of Elections when they mailed erroneous ballots in our borough. 

We took great strides toward gender equity, creating a Task Force on Gender Discrimination and Representation and, in our continued bid to make the party as transparent as possible, we are hosting a public forum meeting tomorrow. At the meeting Brooklyn Democrats can weigh in on finding a permanent solution to amending the rules for gender equity and inclusion.

We hosted a live-streaming women’s panel in the lead-up to the election, engaging elected officials at every level with viewers, political clubs and even the DNC. 

Under my leadership, the party also started to engage via social media. I know that online engagement is essential to communicating with our members. And, even though I know the value of online engagement, I also know it’s not without its challenges in the era of the digital divide. The disparities COVID-19 laid bare showed us exactly who is always on the losing end of that divide. 

And, last but not least, under my leadership, we are paying off debt and raising money to help build a financially sound organization that we can be proud of.  

As the first woman and only the second Black leader to head New York City’s largest Democratic party, I understand the importance of respect. Our Brooklyn Democratic Party has progressives, moderates, centrists, conservatives and further left-leaning members. They are all part of one body, and we will continue to ensure that every corner of Brooklyn feels welcomed in our party.

Rodneyse Bichotte is the Chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. She also represents a district anchored by Flatbush and Midwood in the Assembly.

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