Steve seeks Cohn-tinuity! • Brooklyn Paper

Steve seeks Cohn-tinuity!

Retiring Democratic District Leader Steve Cohn (center) has anointed his son, Warren, as his heir. The only catch? There’s an election to win!
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

For the promotion of Brooklyn’s most obscure political elected office, it sure was one heck of a party.

Democratic District Leader Steve Cohn introduced his son, Warren, as his heir apparent to 200 of the neighborhood’s most politically connected guests at The Polonaise last Thursday night, when the party faithful dined on stuffed cabbage, baked ziti, meat stew and pierogis.

Cohn, who was bursting with the restless energy of an awards show host, emceed the Seneca Club’s annual fundraising dinner at the swanky, if anachronistic, Greenpoint Avenue banquet hall in his last official capacity as Democratic District Leader.

Earlier this month, Cohn, who has held the obscure political office for 27 years, said he would not seek re-election. The move came a mere two weeks after a strong challenger to his seat, Lincoln Restler, emerged.

The job is a purely political one, a volunteer position that is little known outside political circles, but has enormous responsibility within the party. District Leaders select of the party’s county chairman and have influence over which judicial candidates can rise to the bench.

Most of Cohn’s guests were strongly familiar with what a district leader does so the message of the night was continuity. Or should we say, Cohntinuity.

The outgoing Democratic lion spent much of his time on the stage touting the accomplishments of his son, who helped hurricane victims in New Orleans in 2005 while a freshman at Tulane University. He also flew to Haiti to assist with the earthquake relief effort earlier this year.

“I can show you picture after picture of Warren Cohn being involved in different stages of his life in this community,” said Steve Cohn. “I have dozens of albums.”

Fortunately for those in attendance, Cohn did not break out the family photo albums. Instead, the evening featured a parade — actually an onslaught — of awards for community members for their leadership and activism regarding Greenpoint’s environment, parks, businesses, and schools.

Several community leaders pledged to support Warren in the race against Restler, both of whom were recognized as among Brooklyn’s brightest young, rising political stars. Fort Greene Democratic District Leader Walter Mosley predicted a close race, giving Restler a “puncher’s shot.”

“He does have a legitimate shot,” said Mosley. “There are two young guns with lots of energy. It’s going to be good for the district to have some new blood.”

But the best line of the night belonged to one of the district’s oldest bloods, Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg), who excitedly touted his 25-year partnership with Steve Cohn and anointed Warren as a worthy successor.

“If you think Cohn-Lentol is a good team, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Lentol. “The team is going to stay together. Cohn. Lentol. Just a different Cohn.”

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