Toasting transitions: Canarsie political club celebrates new leaders of group and local community board

Changing of the guards: The incoming Community Board 18 chairman Gardy Brazela, left, and his predecessor of 20 years Sol Needle, right, were honored at an official passing of the torch at Canarsie’s Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club on Feb. 5.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

It was a Kings coronation!

Leaders of a Canarsie-based Democratic political club fêted the new chairman of the local community board at a passing-of-the-torch ceremony packed with local luminaries.

Politicos with the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club — including 59th Assembly District Leader Sue Ann Partnow, who organized the festivities, and her male counterpart, 59th Assembly District Leader Frank Seddio, who previously chaired Community Board 18 — cheered the panel’s newly elected head Gardy Brazela at the Tuesday bash, where Brazela ceremonially took the reins from his predecessor Sol Needle, who spent the last two decades in the unpaid position atop the board.

Attendees included Borough President Adams, state Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D–Canarsie), Assemblywoman Jaime Williams (D–Canarsie), Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie), Councilman Kalman Yeger (D–Bensonhurst), and another former CB18 chairman, convicted felon and former state Sen. Carl Kruger.

Seddio, the influential club’s president and the Brooklyn Democratic Party boss, praised Brazela’s history of civic service in the area.

“This is a guy who committed himself to the community from the first day he moved in,” Seddio said.

The Haitian-born Brazela, who moved to Kings County at 12-years-old, is CB18’s first Caribbean-American and black chairman. And his community service isn’t relegated to the panel — the local leader is also the president of the 69th Precinct Community Council, and the founder of civic group Friends United Block Association, which he still oversees after forming it more than two decades ago.

The new chairman’s experience spearheading the local precinct’s community council provided him with the blueprint he needed to take on the role as head of the board he’s been a member of for roughly two decades, he said.

“You have seen how I have transformed the 69th Precinct Community Council. I am planning to do just that with Community Board 18. Together we will build a community,” said Brazela, who lives in Canarsie.

But implementing that change will require intimate collaboration with the board’s top paid staffer, long-time CB18 District Manager Dottie Turano, Seddio said.

“It’s just like being married, just say yes to Dottie,” he said.

The changeover in CB18 chairman wasn’t the only transition toasted at the event — the club also celebrated the newly installed leadership of its youth arm, with the 13-year president of the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club Young Democrats, Mitchell Partnow, relinquishing his duties to its new leader, 22-year-old Steven Patzer.

Partnow — the son of District Leader Partnow — isn’t leaving the club entirely, however. He will now lead the effort to establish a do-good arm of the Jefferson Dems, called the Thomas Jefferson Club Cares, which will serve in-need locals in the district, he said.

“The charity arm is to assist people with more personal things that affect them and their families,” Partnow said.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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