Political challenges to two Brooklyn dynasties.
Never let it be said that Brooklyn’s politics is boring; it is not. Maybe years from now, when the black areas of Brooklyn become as sterile as the white and Hispanic areas are now (somewhat) -where there are hardly ever primaries anymore- we will all look back and wonder where the gumption came from; since it seems that we could always find a primary challenger to some black incumbent, on the other side of the tracks. This year is no exception. Maybe the respect for the county machine is dependent on where you live in Brooklyn; because black insurgents seem to operate on the Winston Churchill principle; which is in essence: that success comes by going from one failure to another, without losing enthusiasm.
In Brownsville, the Boylands have built a political dynasty of sorts since Adam was a boy. In Bedford–Stuyvesant, Albert (Al) Vann and Annette Robinson have been around since before Jesus Christ (BC). One day in Bed-Stuy, they may start counting political things in terms of BV (Before Vann) and BR (Before Robinson): it has been that friggin long.
In Brownsville, there have been four Boylands elected to public office since 1976; that’s 32 years folks. Thomas Boyland was elected to the New York State Assembly from the 55th district in 1976. He unfortunately died of a heart attack in 1982 and his brother William Frank Boyland snr. succeeded him. There is an avenue named after Thomas Boyland that has been around for years now; it cuts through both Bed-Stuy and Brownsville.
Then somewhere around January 2002, Frank resigned after winning the general election a few weeks earlier. This set up a special election whereby his son William Frank Boyland jnr. was elected. It was well orchestrated by a man who drank with both hands; a man who was formerly Clarence Norman’s roommate in the state legislature up in Albany, NY.
Before this, Tracey Boyland (Frank’s daughter) won the city council seat (41st district) in 1997, and held it until 2005 –until she was term limited. I could tell you many stories about the Boyland clan, which I am told, came from Memphis, Tennessee; but that’s for another column.
In Bed-Stuy, the political group named Vanguard has been riding high for many decades; some say that they have the district on political lockdown. Occasionally a few challengers would emerge; people like Robert Hunter, David Miller, Stanley Kinard and Richard Taylor have all taken their shots at the organization; but to no avail. One time they even had Al Vann knocked off the September democratic primary ballot on some petitioning technicality; only to see him re-emerge and win the November general election on the Liberal party’s line. Word on the street is that soon, the Vann - Robinson torch is going to be passed on to Annette’s son: Taharka Robinson. The kid has been working real hard over the past few years to restore his image in politics. I personally admire that. Folks, we must always try to redeem each other; none of us are perfect human beings.
If I am recalling correctly, it was back in 2001 that Al Vann won the 36th city council seat when Annette was term limited; she then went on to win a special election for his Assembly seat (56). Some call it “the switcheroo”/lol. Many have said that Al came down to the city to go on pre-retirement leave in the council; what do you think? You can always tell Cousin Rocky in the comments-section here/lol. Still, both Al Vann and Annette Robinson have also held on to the district leaderships (male and female respectively) of the 56th AD, for about a hundred years now; and normally they are unchallenged: this September it will be different.
Word out of Bed-Stuy is that there will be a challenge to the Vanguard dynasty from an attorney who practices law in the district, named Ms. Cinceria Edwards. Word is that she is being joined by a political operative formerly out of East Flatbush, named Francisco Hall. Ms. Edwards is set to run for both the State Assembly seat, and also for the district leadership on primary day. Mr. Hall –who once worked for Assembly member Nick Perry- is set to challenge Mr. Vann for his leadership post. Expect nominating petitions for these two candidates to be circulated next week.
Down in Brownsville, the word is that Rev. Leonard Hatter is set to challenge Frank Boyland jnr. - for the 55th assembly seat. It is also being said that political/community activist Cleopatra Brown will join his ticket, by running against the current incumbent female leader Lisa Kenner. Hatter is a longtime religious-activist in this area, and his campaign is being managed by a political-consulting firm belonging to James Archibald, a well known Caribbean-American political operative. Ms. Brown has been around for sometime now and is well known in the area. She is a very hard worker who is quite capable of pulling off an upset. For the male leader position the ticket is being rounded off by Daniel Gourdine, another venerable community resident.
Rev. Hatter is the founder of the youth empowerment program named “Courage to Change” which has been in existence for about 8 years now. He is also the pastor and founder of “Partnership Ministries”, a vibrant church in the Brownsville area. He has been active in the politics of this area for decades.
Stay tuned-in folks.