Is Brooklyn Democratic County Leader Vito Lopez Selecting His Successor?

Yes, I said Brooklyn Democratic County Leader. Contrary to clueless media reports, Lopez has not resigned the position. He has gone on record as saying he is not seeking re-election as County Leader. So, is Lopez orchestrating behind the scenes to make Frank Seddio his successor?

Today, Crain’s published a little dish about a meeting of Black Democrats that took place at Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA) last night (Wed., August 29). The piece claims “an insider said” Assemblyman Karim Camara, district leader Walter Mosley, Councilmembers Letitia James and Albert Vann and others gathered.”

Here is the piece in its entirety:

Black Democrats Meet on Seddio

With former Assemblyman Frank Seddio solidifying his frontrunner status to replace Vito Lopez as Brooklyn Democratic chairman, the borough's black leadership met last night. Assemblyman Karim Camara, district leader Walter Mosley, Councilmembers Letitia James and Albert Vann and others gathered at the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association in Bed-Stuy to "put together their own manifesto" for Seddio, an insider said. "They want to see some progressive changes," said the insider. Many of Brooklyn's black officials wanted Camara to succeed Lopez, but Seddio had the votes and party rules on his side. The source called him "more of the same with a different name." But district leader Joe Bova said Seddio could unite the party. "His personality will bring people together," Bova said.

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Guess what? I was there… standing outside VIDA last night talking to folk from about 8-8:30pm. I saw Assemblywoman/District Leader Annette Robinson enter VIDA. I saw District Leaders Chris Owens and Rodneyse Bichotte enter. District Leader Robert Cornegy came down and spoke to me for a couple of minutes.

Apparently, District Leader Walter Mosley arrived after I left.

Others in attendance were District Leaders Olanike Alabi, Darlene Mealy, Shirley Paterson, Ingrid Martin, and Jesse Hamilton.

No, Al Vann was not there. Neither was Councilmember Letitia James, who was in upper Manhattan with Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez at an event that was covered by Channel 7 news.

And no, the meeting was not to "put together their own manifesto" for Seddio. The meeting was to see whether, as a group, Black district leaders could come to a consensus as to who they would support for County Leader.

What did they decide? They will meet with all County Leader candidates on the weekend of Sept. 15 and 16.

As for Lopez orchestrating Seddio, well it’s plausible. But, as district leader, Seddio has forged his own alliances.  Lopez and Seddio admittedly are close. According to the NY Times, Seddio “expressed doubt that the alleged harassment occurred, despite the settlement payout and Assembly committee’s censure vote.”

From the Times: “If they are true,” the sex-harassment charges are “abhorrent,” Seddio said. “He’s indicated to me that these charges were unfounded,” Seddio said.

(As I was preparing to post, I received a statement from Seddio calling for Assemblyman Lopez to resign: “The accusations by former staffers of Assemblyman Lopez in today’s papers are appalling. If true, Vito has to resign from the Assembly. This is unspeakable, atrocious behavior. Sexual harassment is unacceptable anywhere, especially in the workplace, and the behavior of which he stands accused is unacceptable by anyone, let alone a public official.”)

I can only marvel at how Brooklyn Black district leaders have not yet come up with a potential successor to Lopez from among themselves. Instead, some have been talking about a potential rules change with unforeseen consequences. County rules state a County Leader must be or have been a district leader.

Despite this, among certain circles Hakeem Jeffries name was floated. But, he is preparing to go to Washington. Then Karim Camara was suggested (not by Governor Cuomo). But, District Leader Inez Barron would not support Camara, who the Barrons view as yet another “go along to get along” Black politician.

Among District Leaders, rumors that Walter Mosley would be interested are false. Mosley is focused on his campaign for Assembly.

Considering the ever expanding workplace sex harassment allegations against Lopez, and the outrage from women’s groups that tax dollars were used to secretly settle with two former Lopez employees, one would think Brooklyn’s female district leaders would at least discuss the possibility of support for a female County Leader. Jo Anne Simon tried, but couldn’t gain traction.

No matter what happens during the next couple of weeks, including the outcome of the district leader elections on Sept. 13, one thing is clear. The Sept. 20 County meeting will usher in a new era of leadership.