March 8, 2018 / Brooklyn news / Party Line

Council’s women aim to multiply

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A newly elected East Flatbush pol has joined a group of activists fighting to get more women elected to the Council.

Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D–East Flatbush), who replaced term-limited Councilwoman Darlene Mealy (D–East Flatbush) in January, is one of 11 women out of 51 members of the city legislature — and she has hit the ground running, looking to get more women involved in politics as part of the 21 in ’21 Initiative, which launched last year with the goal to get 21 women elected to the city Council in the next three years as a way to push back against President Trump’s divisive political movement.

“We’re the ones when we’re in elected office who introduce the most bills, are the most vocal. Elected officials should definitely reflect the population and the people,” said Ampry-Samuel. “This White House administration and what you see across the country now — such disrespect to women and marginalized groups. I want to be able to lend my voice, lend my expertise to help other women.”

The freshman pol was tapped by newly elected Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D–Manhattan) to chair the Public Housing committee, along with several other women who also head powerful committees in the caucus — but there’s still more to do, and she consciously looks to recruit politically engaged women to run for future office every day, she said.

“Corey Johnson is amazing and he put women in some key roles, but at the same time, not all of the men of the Council are working together and willing to even partner with the women in the Council,” said Ampry-Samuel. “I’m conscious of this every day when I walk into a room, I’m looking around the room, ‘what women are shining, what women are really engaged, asking questions?’ You best believe I’m tapping her on the shoulder, asking her what you got going on?”

Ampry-Samuel joins several other Brooklyn pols as part of the 21 in ’21 Initiative, including Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Crown Heights), Public Advocate Tish James, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D–New York).

• • •

A Democratic Bay Ridge state Senate candidate is putting the kibosh on rumors that he plans to jump ship to run for what could become a vacant Assembly seat if the disgraced Assemblywoman Pamela Harris (D–Coney Island) steps down from her post.

A handful of local activists are reportedly eyeing Harris’s Ridge-to-Coney seat after the feds charged her with stealing money from city and federal storm-recovery agencies.

Among the eager field are former Republican opponent Lucretia Regina-Potter, who had predicted Harris’s downfall, as well as Coney Island-based professor Mathylde Frontus, according to Kings County Politics, and Andrew Gounardes, a Bay Ridge Democrats member and attorney for Borough President Adams, who already declared his candidacy to oust state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and has $299,599 in his war chest.

Brooklyn’s Democratic Party Boss Frank Seddio said the Borough Hall lawyer would make a good candidate to replace Harris, but Gounardes said he only has eyes for Golden’s seat.

“My plans to run for the state senate have not changed,” Gounardes said. “Our neighborhood is ready for change and I’m running to bring that change.”

• • •

Freshman Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge) repeatedly told this paper that he’s not thinking about a career in elected office beyond two terms of the Council, but he has been gallivanting around the five boroughs over the past week, suggesting political aspirations beyond his Council district.

Brannan, who previously worked for Mayor DeBlasio in the Department of Education, has said he doesn’t see his “future” in politics, but traveled up to the Bronx and then to Queens for a political event and parade with Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D–Manhattan), making some question if he has sights set on Johnson’s seat.

“Is @JustinBrannan running the @CoreyinNYC Speaker-seeking playbook?” Gotham Gazette’s executive editor Ben Max wrote on Twitter on March 1.

Brannan didn’t respond to requests for comment.

• • •

The Working Families Party is throwing its support behind candidates challenging turncoat Democrats who align with the Grand Old Party up in Albany.

Attorney Zellnor Myrie is looking to oust state Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D–Crown Heights) — a member of the breakaway block the Independent Democratic Conference, which sits across the aisle with the Grand Old Party to give the Republicans a majority in the chamber in exchange for leadership posts and perks — and he secured support from the Working Families Party last week.

Hamilton continues to call himself a Democrat, but he’s sitting with a group of Trump-aligned politicians who prevent much-needed laws from passing, including rent regulations, school funding, and criminal justice reform, said a spokesman for the party.

“This will be the seventh-straight budget in a row that the IDC-GOP coalition has blocked legislation to strengthen our rent laws, provided adequate funding for public schools and universities, and enact sensible and human criminal justice reform. The working families of the 20th Senate District deserve better than an IDC representative who proudly supports a Trump supporter as leader of the State Senate,” said Dom Leon-Davis. “We can count on Zellnor to put working families first.”

The Working Families Party has also endorsed candidate Jasmine Robinson, who is running against state Sen. Diane Savino (D–Coney Island), who also represents The Rock, and is evaluating the two Democratic challengers to Golden, Gounardes and Bay Ridge journalist Ross Barkan, said Leon-Davis.

• • •

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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