Council members and Assembly member vie for Brooklyn borough presidency

Council member Robert E. Cornegy Jr.
Council member Robert E. Cornegy Jr.
John McCarten
Council member Robert E. Cornegy Jr.

Council members and Assembly member vie for Brooklyn borough presidency

Robert E. Cornegy Jr., Mathieu Eugene, Antonio Reynoso, and Jo Anne Simon all want to replace Eric Adams.
March 23, 2021

The race for Brooklyn borough president is underway, with 12 candidates vying to succeed Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who is term-limited and running for mayor. The Democratic primary in June, which is the de facto election, will use the new ranked-choice voting system. 

There are educators and community advocates running, but the top tier consists of Council members Robert E. Cornegy Jr., Mathieu Eugene, and Antonio Reynoso and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. Hospital executive Khari Edwards has also raised enough funds to be competitive and has picked up a few endorsements. 

A Brooklyn Democratic source explained that the Brooklyn Democratic Party has not endorsed anybody officially for the race, but the 42 district leaders who comprise the executive committee will be meeting soon to make their decision, with Cornegy as a rumored frontrunner for the coveted endorsement. 

Cornegy, however, has been recently faced with allegations that he asked employees of his Council office for campaign contributions and free labor for his campaign. A Cornegy spokesperson told The City that the accusations were “unsubstantiated.” Other Cornegy staffers recently allegedly threatened a local community board member. (Cornegy said his staff “feared for their safety.”) 

Each major candidate has a likely base of support: Eugene is the first Haitian-born New Yorker elected to the City Council, and he represents a heavily Afro-Caribbean, Flatbush-based district. Reynoso is Latino and comes from a largely Latino Bushwick-Williamsburg district, in which he has also appealed to progressive young professionals. Simon, a former president of the Boerum Hill Association, is an established presence among the progressives of Brownstone Brooklyn. Cornegy represents Bed-Stuy, the historic heart of African American Brooklyn. Edwards recently received the endorsement of the influential public employee union District Council 37. “Each candidate has some strengths that I think are going to be shown in the last several months,” said Camille Rivera, a partner at New Deal Strategies.

Here is the essential information about all of the candidates:

City Council Member Robert E. Cornegy Jr.

Current job: Council member of District 36 representing Bedford-Stuyvesant and northern Crown Heights. 

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $291,471

Public funds: $594,505

Endorsements: State Sens. Roxanne Persaud and Diane Savino Assembly Members Jamie Williams, Eric Dilan, William Colton and Mathylde Frontus, City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, City Council Members Darma Diaz, Alan Maisel, Chaim Deutsch and Kalman Yeger, Former Brooklyn Democratic Chair Frank Seddio, District leaders Sue Ann Partnow, Edu Hermelyn, Shirley Patterson, David Schwartz, Arleny Alvarado-McCalla, Annette Robinson, Joseph Bova, Henry Butler, Former Assembly Members Tremaine Wright and Darryl Towns, Former Rep. Ed Towns, Former Council Member David Greenfield, Reverend Jacques Andre DeGraff, Director and Producer Spike Lee, Comedian Tracy Morgan, Teamsters237 and the Seaside Independent Democrats

Focused issues: According to his website, Cornegy wants to create a more diverse community board filled with residents, business owners, and service providers, economic development by supporting New York City increasing “living wage”, land-use reform to continue the positive aspects of the ULURP and have more engagement with the community board, continue the expansion of STEAM programs in Brooklyn public schools, and adding a task force to former Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams reSET program to include representatives from each neighborhood to look at possible sustainable energy opportunities. 

City Council member Antonio Reynoso 

Current Job: Council Member for District 34 representing Bushwick, Ridgewood, and Williamsburg. 

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $209,988

Public funds: $528,306 

Endorsements: NY Working Families Party, Make the Road Action, New Kings Democrats, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, activist and actress Cynthia Nixon, Council Members Margaret Chin and Helen Rosenthal, state Sens. Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar, Assembly Members Marcela Mitaynes and Maritza Davila, Council candidates Jennifer Gutierrez and Sandy Nurse, District Leaders Shaquana Boykin, Kristina Naplatarski and Samy Nemir Olivares, Teamster Joint Council 16.

Issues: According to his website, Reynoso wants to reduce NYPD’s role in communities to make room for social services instead, protect immigrants from ICE, support small businesses by implementing rent relief, tax credits, and expansion of MWBE opportunities, invest in the public school system and eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline, provide fully-funded public hospitals, improve urban planning, a greener Brooklyn, better access to transportation, increased pay for healthcare workers and increased support for senior citizens. 

Assembly member Jo Anne Simon 

Current job: Assembly Member for District 52 representing Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Vinegar Hill, Gowanus, DUMBO, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, and Prospect Heights

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $348,247

Public funds: $481,224

Endorsements: Former state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, 504 Democratic Club, Hon. Joan Millman, Union of Arab Women of NYC, Bay Ridge Democrats, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Independent Neighborhood Democrats, Brooklyn Young Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assembly member Robert Carroll, District leaders Joanne Seminara and Josh Skallar and former District Leader Ralph Perfetto. 

Focused issues: Simon’s website notes that she has supported and authored legislation advancing women’s rights, criminal justice reform and affordable public power, among other issues. 

City Council Member Mathieu Eugene

Current Job: Council member of District 40 covering Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. 

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $54,033

Public funds: None 

Endorsements: Councilmember Eugene’swebsite does not state endorsements. 

Focused Issues: According to his Council website, Eugene has worked within Brooklyn to “ensure quality education with smaller class size (and) improve access to healthcare for all people.” 

Khari Edwards 

Most recent job: Vice President of External Affairs for Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $158,842

Public funds: $514,362

Endorsements: City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuels, Assembly Member N. Nick Perry and District Council 37. 

Focused issues: According to Edwards’ website, he focuses on affordable housing, providing support to public hospitals and access to healthcare, small business support, creating opportunities for the youth such as designated seats for 18 to 25-year-olds on community boards. 

Anthony T. Jones 

Current Job: Member of the Democratic state committee for Assembly District 55. 

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $48,643

Public funds: None

Endorsements: None listed on Jones’ website. 

Focused issues: According to his website, Jones wants to support small businesses in the borough, create stronger community boards and build better community-police relations. 

Kimberly Council 

Current job: Associate Minister for the Berean Baptist Church 

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $84,400

Public funds: none 

Endorsements: None according to Council’s website

Focused Issues: equitable education, construction of affordable housing by community non-profits, programs that support senior citizens and creating affordable housing designated for seniors, police reform that provides support for formerly incarcerated community members, ensuring an independent Civilian Complaint Review Board, that every Brooklyn neighborhood has a healthcare infrastructure, and gender parity within community board. 

Lamor Miller Whitehead 

Current Job: Self-employed 

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $43,636

Public funds: none

Endorsements: None according to his website.

Focused issues: According to his website, Whitehead wants to focus on COVID-19, criminal justice reform, education, community development, and low and moderate-income housing. However, when pursuing more details on these focus issues, Whitehead’s website did not provide information and did not respond to comment. 

Pearlene Fields 

Current Job: Cousulant 

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $3,486 

Public funds: none 

Endorsements: None according to her website

Focused Issues: Affordable housing that does not rely on lottery systems that can have waitlists for years, public safety that focuses on eliminating the abuse of authority from police officers and stop “crooked” police, supporting small businesses, and equitable education. 

Ramos Robert

Current job: President of DC37 Local 205 Daycare Workers Union, member of the CUNY board of trustees, member of AFSCME.

Fundraising:

Private funds: $5,938

Public funds: none

Endorsements: None, according to Ramos’ website

Focused issues: providing resources to underfunded schools, incentives to homeowners to install solar panels, eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline, making the Citizens Complaint Review Board elected and expansion of community land trusts. 

Robert Elstein 

Current job: Public school educator 

Fundraising: 

Private funds: $5,446

Public funds: none 

Endorsements: None, according to his website

Focused issues: Ending mayoral control over public schools, developing a neighborhood beautification network, reimaged policing, developing a plan for climate change, and “strengthen(ing) libraries, schools, and Brooklyn’s youth through artistic and intellectual expression.”

Shanduke McPhatter 

Current job: Executive Director of Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes Inc. 

Fundraising:

Private funds: $2,197

Public funds: none

Endorsements: McPhatter does not have a website to display possible endorsements. 

Focused issues: McPhatter does not have a website to display any issues. 

Corrections: The positions of City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuels and Assembly Member N. Nick Perry were originally misidentified in this story. Several endorsements were incorrectly attributed. Edwards is no longer employed at Brookdale Hospital.

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Sheneca Sharpe
is an Editorial Intern at City & State
20210415