Two Fort Greene political rivals who hold the same unpaid party post are vying for the same promotion: a seat in state Assembly.
Olanike Alabi and Walter Mosley, the neighborhood’s Democratic female and male district leaders, have already started jockeying for front-runner status in the race to replace third-term Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene), who is running for Congress against 30-year incumbent Rep. Ed Towns (D–Fort Greene).
Alabi, who has held the volunteer district leader position since 2006, announced her candidacy on Tuesday, promising to focus her energies on health care, education, and housing, if elected.
But Mosley, who plans to launch his campaign soon, says his work in the obscure, behind-the-scenes role since 2008 will be enough to earn him a new title.
“I’ve proven myself over the past four years,” said Mosley, a former state Senate aide who is expected to receive Jeffries’s blessing. “People see the natural transition between myself and Hakeem.”
But Alabi shot back that voters — not endorsements — will determine the outcome of the fall election.
“Everybody has to earn their own,” said Alabi, a secretary with the powerful healthcare workers union 1199 S.E.I.U. “I know first-hand how far we have come and I’m keenly aware of what is needed to move our district forward.”
The two district leaders work together endorsing judges, overseeing voting for their party’s county leader, and hiring poll workers and election inspectors on Election Day in the 57th Assembly District, which runs from Fort Greene to Crown Heights.
But insiders see Alabi and Mosley as nemeses who both covet Jeffries’s seat.
Jeffries gave up his shot at a fourth term in Albany to run for Congress against Towns, who was rumored to be eyeing retirement but has vowed in recent days to defend his seat.
Jeffries’ spokeswoman Lupe Todd declined to say who he’ll support, but stressed his close relationship with Mosley.
“The Assemblyman has worked closely with District Leader Mosley and regards him as a highly skilled public servant and asset to the community,” Todd said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Olanike Alabi as a labor organizer — she is actually an “executive secretary,” according to the healthcare workers union.
Reach reporter Daniel Bush at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.