Tensions simmered at the Kings County Democratic Meeting at St. Francis College (180-182 Remsen Street) in downtown Brooklyn this past Monday as newly elected members of the party’s County Committee were repeatedly frustrated in their attempts to introduce new motions, fill vacancies and create additional committees within the party structure.
“The power of the people of within Kings County was done an injustice by not allowing for input from its elected representatives,” said Esteban Duran, a county committee representative of the 53rd Assembly District and a candidate for City Council. “We need better leadership than this. If you can’t get involved in your party and get your voice heard, where can you go?”
Brooklyn’s Democratic Party County Committee meetings occur once every two years, immediately following the state’s Democratic primary in even election years. Typically the meetings have drawn little attention from the media and cover routine business such as adoption of the rules and the election of the county party’s executive committee.
This year, several local Democratic clubs, including the new North Brooklyn-based group New Kings Democrats, organized to recruit members to fill hundreds of vacancies in the county committee with the purpose of getting more residents involved in the Brooklyn Democratic Party and increasing transparency of the party’s operations.
At a New Kings Democrats strategy meeting held before the Democratic Party’s gathering, new county committee members resolved to push for additional county party meetings, add members to the rules committee and create two additional standing committees. Their efforts to make changes to the party’s structure were thwarted by a series of voice votes ruled against those motions and proxy vote cards, which had already been cast for Democratic Party Chair-man, Assemblymember Vito Lopez.
State Senator Martin Connor, recently defeated by Daniel Squadron in the Democratic primary, navigated the meeting with droll precision despite several interruptions. After several motions from new members were defeated, Councilmember Charles Barron criticized the county’s party establishment for running the meeting without including many new voices in the process.
“I know I’m out of order but this is ridiculous,” said Barron, who attended the meeting for the first time. “I’ve never been to a more restrictive meeting in my life. It insults the intelligence of everyone here that you have such a scripted meeting.”
Several elected officials who were not members of the County Committee, including Assemblymember Joseph Lentol and State Senator Eric Adams, attended the meeting to meet new members and observe how the process of County Committee is working. Adams was not discouraged that there appeared to be divisions between new members and party leaders who set the agenda for the meeting months ago.
“I think that what new members can do is they can examine what took place here and determine how to make change,” Adams said. “Change is the person who wants to roll up their sleeves and get to work.”
After the meeting, Lopez said he was very pleased with how it went.
“It was a very participatory event,” he said. “I was happy we were able to get things accomplished. Even some of the dissidents had something complementary to say about me that I appreciate.”