They’re sticking with him!
Leaders of some self-described progressive Democratic political clubs are standing firm in their endorsements of a Flatbush councilman’s bid for Public Advocate, despite reports about his recent campaign stop at a controversial East Flatbush church known for spreading anti-gay ideology, and claiming that the pol lied about his past donations to colleagues with documented histories of homophobia.
Jumanne Williams (D–Flatbush), who is gunning for the citywide seat recently vacated by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, on Jan. 26 campaigned at the Brooklyn Faith Seventh-Day Adventist Church — which described gay marriage as one of many “disappointing social trends” on its website, and shared a Facebook Live video of a congregant quoting scripture as saying, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” — according to a recent report by our sister publication Gay City News.
But the local legislator is still committed to fighting for the LGBTQ community, and is unfairly being held to a harsher standard than other pols with homophobic pasts in part because of the color of his skin, according to a spokesman for one of the clubs sticking by Williams despite the recent reports.
“Jumaane is being held to a different standard. Hillary Clinton was against gay marriage during her entire career as a senator and yet she received massive support from the LGBTQ community during her Senate career,” said Allen Roskoff, who reps the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, a self-described progressive, LGBTQ group. “It seems to me that people of lighter skin pigment have received support when they’ve been formally anti gay marriage.”
Still, Roskoff said Williams should never have paid a visit to the church in the first place — or, at the very least, acknowledged his support for the LGBTQ community while speaking there.
“If someone’s going to go to a place like that we think it’s vital that he should have said that he disagrees on marriage equality,” he said.
Leaders of another self-described progressive club based in Brooklyn expressed similar regrets about Williams’s visit to the Church Avenue house of worship, but also reiterated their support, recognizing that part of campaigning in a citywide race often means interacting with communities that don’t necessarily share all of a given candidate’s views.
“I won’t lie, we’re disappointed. However, we continue to believe that Jumaane’s record on LGBTQ and abortion rights speaks for itself,” said New Kings Democrats spokeswoman Jessica Thurston. “We do want him to engage with as many communities as possible because we think he’s the right candidate. If he can go into these spaces and find common ground and bring in these ideas that would be great.”
The recent Gay City News reports followed a 2017 sitdown between the paper and the pol during his failed campaign to succeed former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D–Manhattan), during which Williams emphatically stated his support for marriage equality after coming under fire for failing to publicly support the issue during an earlier bid for the same role.
But the steadfast support for Williams shown by some local progressive Democrats was not enough to earn an endorsement from leaders of another political club known for its LGBTQ advocacy, the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, which recently backed Mark-Viverito’s Public Advocate bid.
Williams’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment about his appearances or the recent reports by press time.
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He’s going for the throne.
The former chairman of the Brooklyn Conservative Party is allegedly eyeing a new gig as the party’s statewide chairman.
Dyker Heights resident Jerry Kassar, the New York State Conservative Party’s current vice chairman, is reportedly considering a move to lead the group after the sudden exit of its former chairman, Bay Ridgite Mike Long, who recently stepped down after three decades, Bklyner reported.
Kassar previously served as chief-of-staff for former state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), and worked in the Assembly. He currently writes a column for the Brooklyn Reporter called “Common Sense.”
The outgoing chairman said the time is ripe for a new leader to take over the statewide Conservative Party, which is headquartered in Bay Ridge, following his 30 years at its helm.
“While I write this note with a heavy heart, I do so with a clear mind and believe the time has come for me to step away as Chairman,” Long wrote in his resignation letter.
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Albany’s Dems are keeping busy!
Democratic pols have passed bills at a breakneck speed since reclaiming the majority in the state Legislature earlier this year, including laws that crack down on gun control, promote voting reforms, extend the statute of limitations for sex crimes, ban gay-conversion therapy for minors, and codify reproductive rights.
And Brooklyn Dems championed much of that legislation, pushing ahead with the bills that were previously stymied for years by Republicans while they held a majority in the Legislature.
Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D–Carroll Gardens) sponsored the Red Flag Bill, which allows courts to prohibit a person from buying guns if they are deemed likely to be a threat to themselves or others, which Gov. Cuomo signed into law on Jan. 29.
She also sponsored legislation that brings transparency to the often hard-to-track political donations of Limited Liability Companies by requiring them to file political expenditures with the state’s board of election, and declare the identity of all their direct and indirect owners and their ownership stakes, which Gov. Cuomo approved on Jan. 24.
And that same day, the governor signed off on a package of voting-reform bills — which will make casting a ballot easier by allowing voter preregistration, and registration transfer and enrollment for new Empire State residents — after freshman state Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D–Crown Heights) and his blue-party colleagues introduced them in the state’s upper house.