Last December I wrote a column suggesting that Brooklyn’s next borough president should be a woman. I even suggested one: Lori Cintron Knipel. I feel that it is time to make history in Brooklyn. It’s time for a woman: case closed.
After I published that column, some people asked:”why not a black, Hispanic or Asian?” I have no qualms with either of those options, since such an election will also be historic. Anyway, that column brought a little attention, and it was requested that I revisit this topic as soon as I got a chance to. So here I am.
Prior to the term-limits extension of 2008, there were many names being bandied around as potential candidates aiming to fill Marty Markowitz’s shoes. I will go through some names on that old list: Bill DiBlasio, Lew Fidler, Yvonne Graham, Velmanette Montgomery, Annette Robinson, Chris Owens, Tish James, Domenic Recchia jnr., Darryl Towns, Martin Dilan jnr., Eric Adams, Al Vann, Charles Barron, John Sampson, Nick Perry, and of course whispers of Lori Knipel’s interest.
That was then, this is now. I will not arbitrarily scratch any from the old list except to say that the interest of many there seems to have waned or totally dissipated. Through both the grapevine and mainstream media sources, Owens, Perry, Robinson, Vann, Montgomery, Adams, Barron, James, Sampson, Fidler, Graham and Towns have sent out “zero” recent signals about trying to make the next boro prez race. Ditto for relevant info coming from what I term the fifth estate: blogs, tweets, local newspapers and magazines, internet websites, etc. In the hood, there is no energy for this race as yet (and yes it is pretty far off in terms of “political” time).
Since Bill DiBlasio is now the Public Advocate -and although he appeared to be serious about replacing Marty at one point- I feel he will stick with his current job: or run for mayor if he sees a good chance of winning. So at the moment, it appears that Domenic Recchia and Lori Knipel are the only two (and again, I know it is very very early) who seem to be still interested in this upcoming race. Then there was a point recently when Recchia appeared very interested in a congressional run. So this kinda sorta leaves Lori in the spotlight for the moment. So Lori is now the “cheese” standing alone in the farmer’s den. However, she hasn’t declared as yet, and keeps telling folks that she is still looking at it. Okay Lori, stop looking and declare. Nothing is coming to you freely: you have to go get it.
I have been warned by an advisor to expect a Hispanic entry. In that regard, I can only envisage one person from amongst those in this group: Diana Reyna, Sara Gonzalez, Felix Ortiz or a member of the Dilan clan. I am hard-pressed to see someone other than an elected official running for this job. There are many Hispanic voters in Brooklyn, but they don’t vote at a notable rate right now. I do expect that to change soon though; especially after Hispanic-political activists decide to focus on Brooklyn. Watch out for this over the next decade. They are eventually going to get around to targeting that dormant Hispanic bloc in Brooklyn.
Of other Brooklyn-electeds whose names I haven’t mentioned, no one -except Darlene Mealy- seems ambitious and courageous enough to give this race a try; but then Ms. Mealy has a chance at another term in office if she is re-elected in 2011. Thus it is inconceivable of her giving up her seat for a decidedly long-shot run for boro prez. Plus, I am told that she is considering a congressional run next year.
There are a few district leaders who can fit this job nicely (I won’t name many here since I don’t want to start any shit), but I don’t see any of them making this remarkable a statement. They are generally not ones possessive of serious gonads folks. Besides Lori, there is one woman from that bunch who (in my estimation) could also make an interesting candidate: Joanne Simon.
From the Caribbean-American crowd, one candidate (Nick Perry or Yvonne Graham) can be very competitive: not both in the same race. Graham makes for an interesting candidacy; however some are suggesting that the recent passing of her mentor (Dr. Marco Mason) hurts a lot in this regard. John Sampson (Guyanese father) can also carry water for this voting-bloc. Jumanne Williams is up and coming but he hasn’t paid enough dues as yet. And although Una Clarke still commands some respect in many quarters of that community (and she is still very strong and energetic), I want to believe she isn’t interested in running for office anymore. Kendall Stewart is in a political coma. I doubt he can be revived unless Jesus intervenes. And unfortunately no other individual (Mathieu Eugene included) can run from this community with enough name recognition, clout and respect, to galvanize this potent voting-bloc at the moment. Kevin Parker sits in a district heavily populated by Caribs, but his past bad-behavior(s) aborts and disqualifies such an attempt before it is even thought of.
I am almost certain that there will be an Afro-American candidate. Who that turns out to be is still a mystery. If Charles Barron runs as the only black candidate in a field of many whites and/or Hispanics, then he can be potent. If he is one of two, three, four, or more black candidates, then he spells disaster for all the blacks (and possibly the lone Hispanic too) in the race. Word is that Charles is going to run for some other office soon though. Don’t be fooled by his low last number from the gubernatorial race; Charles can generate decent support amongst many of Brooklyn’s black voters. He can be a big spoiler.
And then there is David Yassky. The current head of the Taxi and Limousine Commission hasn’t returned the phone call I made to him recently, in attempting to gauge where his head is at in this race. I also wanted to confirm the fears of one or two black folks, interested in backing a black candidate in this race.
Yassky could be a formidable candidate, if only because he is a capable fundraiser. Plus he does bring some other strengths to the table. And yet, so too is Lori Knipel. If Lori is the only female -and can raise enough money to be competitive- she can win this race. It appears that Yassky still has a few fences to mend in the black community: this cannot be helpful to his cause here. Then there is this rumor that he will run for something higher than boro prez. We shall see.
It is worth noting that Lori Knipel’s life was once threatened, when she voted to support a black man for re-election to the leadership of King’s County democrats. It was something commendable and admirable that she did; holding her ground in the face of political and physical threats. It is time for blacks to reciprocate for that support. Courage like that should be rewarded.
The dynamics of this race -even from as early and as far off a vantage point as this one now- is rather intriguing. It will be run during a mayoral primary. There are presently as many as six possible entrants from Brooklyn in that mayoral race. If Marty Markowitz runs for mayor or citywide office, then his Brooklyn coattails can be rewarding to whoever he backs. This could possibly be Yvonne Graham (Deputy Boro Prez): if she runs.
By the way: here is a plug for the powers that be to change the NY primaries from September to late June. The time has come for such a move. No need to spell out all the benefits to this: you know them. Just do it. We can lose federal money from not changing this date.
The eventual winner of this race for Brooklyn boro prez will probably emerge from the race’s (entrants) demographic makeup, plus from the alignments with other candidates running for city-wide office. Gender politics can play. Gay politics can play. Race, religion, nationality and ethnicity can also be big factors here. This race has the potential to arouse a political-crack-head-consultant to political orgasm: especially if it is handicapped correctly. Lori needs to get in early. Too many women in this race won’t be helpful to her cause. If she gets in now, many will stand down.
I saw in a thread last week, where Howard “Gatemouth” Graubard suggested that Lori Knipel should be made boro prez by acclamation. I was a bit surprised. I know Gate loves those pretty Jewish girls (like Lori, Maria, and the other one I kissed -no name please/I don’t want to kill her political reputation/lol) but I didn’t know he was willing to go out on a political limb for any of them. Hurrah for the Gatemouth y’all.
Finally and furthermore, I don’t know if the combined support of Gatemouth and I is nothing short of the kiss of death for Lori’s chances; but I can only hope that it is a blessing in disguise instead. I can only hope that she decides to enter this race real soon: hope springs eternal; especially in spring time.
Stay tuned-in folks.