Vito Makes District Leader Races Interesting

Brooklyn Democratic boss/ Assemblyman Vito Lopez abused his power in a suit against a political opponent according to claims published by the Brooklyn Paper.  Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey calls Lopez’s behavior  “mind-boggling”:

Brooklyn Paper: Good government groups blasted Lopez (D-Williamsburg) for placing a call to Housing Authority Intergovernmental Affairs Director Brian Honan last week, reminding him to appear in court and bring information regarding the leases of his opponent’s campaign workers.

What’s up with Vito?  He doesn’t like his competition for District Leader, Esteban Duran, apparently:

The concerning incident began last week when Lopez, who is also the chairman of the Kings County Democratic Party, sued Esteban Duran, his primary challenger for a district leader position, alleging that Duran’s nominating petitions contained widespread fraud and should be invalidated.

Civil Court Judge Carolyn Demarest subpoenaed Honan, the housing authority staffer, to bring in copies of Duran volunteers’ leases in public housing buildings to verify that those petition collectors actually lived where they claimed to. Honan said the reminder call from Lopez troubled him.

In our 52nd Assembly District Lopez has launched an offensive against current district leaders JoAnne Simon and Alan Fleishman.  Running against the incumbents are  Lopez minion Councilmember Steve Levin’s staffer/ Juicebox Generation Millenial Hope Reichbach and Levin campaign worker Stephen Williamson.

But really, seriously could someone — a grownup like Mr. Lopez — really care that much about these unpaid, largely unnoticed positions?   Youbetcha, say the current district leaders:

Brooklyn Paper: “Actually, he considers us ‘Public Enemy number 1,’ ” said Fleishman, a 27-year resident of the district who has held the post for eight years. “We didn’t support his candidates for Surrogate Court. We fought him when he tried to get an unqualified person on the Board of Elections. And we bucked him when he tried to put Noach Dear on the bench without a judicial screening panel.

“Bottom line? He’s gunning for us because we’re not willing to go along with everything he wants because he’s the county leader,” added Fleishman.

Simon also framed the race as a Vito attack, saying that there was “no reason for [Reichbach] to consider a run”  if Lopez hadn’t cajoled her into it.

As for supporters of Reichbach and Williamson:

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  • Topham Beauclerk

    Do we not have a separation of church and state in this country? Why on earth was a rabbi invited to give his opinion of a political candidate?

  • Soulman

    Topham ~ the First Amendment refers to government establishing a religion. Clerics are still citizens and are allowed to speak as such. I say that as an atheist, BTW. (and Hope’s 6th grade teacher).

  • Topham Beauclerk

    Soulman, you’re quite right; clergymen are indeed fellow citizens. But since the rabbi said nothing especially interesting, it’s clear he was chosen to give his opinion of the two youngsters precisely because he was a rabbi with something of a following. Democratic politics would do well to dispense with clergymen altogether. They are narrow, divisive figures who have strange, unaccountable beliefs.

  • Soulman

    I agree, Mr. T, but like the Moslem Center downtown, it’s allowed under our (so far still) free Constitutional system.

  • Jesse Strauss

    Hi Brooklyn Heights blog! Just an fyi: Alan is not running for reelection. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that I’m running for Alan’s seat! Lopez always wanted to take Alan to punish him for being independent. But now Lopez needs to deal with me.

    I’m an independent reformer looking to clean up Brooklyn’s Democratic Party. like Alan and JoAnne Simon, I’ll work with Vito Lopez when he is right (rarely but it happens) and stand up to him when he is wrong (which will be often if not always). I believe the Democratic Party is stronger when there is a diversity of opinions and when district leaders work for the party members, not the party bosses. 

    I’m endorsed by Assemblywoman Joan Millman, the Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC and the Independent Neighborhood Democrats. I’m also supported by many community leaders. 

    I’m a member of Community Board 2, I have a back ground in voting rights and election law (I’m Membership Chair of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council), a Brooklyn Law School Grad, former New York City Urban Fellow, big firm associate and law clerk to a Federal Judge in Brooklyn. So I know the community, I know the law and I know the difference that a qualified judge can make. From the looks of things, Lopez either does not, or just does not care.

    Read more about me at and remember to vote 9/14.

  • Homer Fink

    Jesse, thanks for that info — just shows just how under the radar this contest has been.