Brooklyn’s Top 10 Elected Officials
Brooklyn’s Top 10 Elected Officials
1. Hakeem Jeffries
House Democratic Caucus Chair
The impeachment trial was supposed to be the Fort Greene congressman’s moment in the national spotlight, but his star turn never materialized. Hakeem Jeffries has been busy holding the Trump administration accountable for what he called a pattern of “chaos and corruption” and mucking up the mail. He hopes to grow the Democratic caucus next year, but progressive challengers picked off several veteran lawmakers, including Eliot Engel, in primaries, complicating his speakership quest.
2. Charles Schumer
U.S. Senate Minority Leader
Charles Schumer’s role crafting coronavirus relief packages plays to his strengths more than being President Donald Trump’s antagonist. He has sought $2.2 trillion in the latest aid talks and ridiculed the Republican plan as “emaciated.” Schumer is also battling for control of the Senate, outraising his GOP counterparts so far this cycle. But he should watch his back – even Trump predicts an AOC challenge in 2022.
3. Letitia James
State Attorney General
Letitia James has circled around Trump, suing his administration 20 times, seeking his tax returns and probing financial fraud at the Trump organization while demanding Eric Trump’s testimony. As the state’s top nonprofit regulator, she has cracked down on a foundation purporting to represent the Black Lives Matter movement and sought to dissolve the NRA. She recently empaneled a grand jury in her investigation into Daniel Prude’s death.
4. Nydia Velázquez
Nydia Velázquez has been among the staunchest immigration advocates in the Trump era, authoring legislation preventing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from identifying as local police and protecting Temporary Protected Status recipients from deportation last summer. But COVID-19 sidelined the veteran lawmaker just after the House finished a $2.2 trillion stimulus package. Once recovered, Velázquez helped small businesses receive federal aid, scrutinized contractors, and worked to help Puerto Rico determine its future.
5. Eric Adams
Brooklyn Borough President
The 2021 mayoral race is shaping up to be a two-person contest between Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Comptroller Scott Stringer. Adams, a former cop, has called for an investigation into a policing slowdown as shootings rose and rallied against the mayor’s proposal to lay off 22,000 city workers. Adams raised eyebrows in January when he said newer Brooklynites should “go back to Ohio” and then doubled down on protecting longtime residents from gentrification.
6. Jumaane Williams
Flatbush pol Jumaane Williams has never been afraid to mix it up while engaging in civil disobedience, so it’s no surprise he has led calls to protect Black lives. He has been omnipresent during this summer of unrest, where he led marches, defied the overnight curfew, and spoke at a massive George Floyd memorial service. Calls have intensified for Williams to run for mayor, but he is declining for now.
7. Eric Gonzalez
Brooklyn District Attorney
Eric Gonzalez, is known as the city’s most progressive prosecutor for supporting policies like a pretrial diversion program allowing offenders to avoid prosecution for minor crimes by taking art classes. Gonzalez had qualms with the legislature’s bail reform laws – his office had high turnover as a result of the new rules – and preferred eliminating cash bail entirely while giving judges more jurisdiction over cases. When COVID-19 arrived, he stopped prosecuting low-level offenses.
8. Rodneyse Bichotte
The selection of Rodneyse Bichotte to replace the retiring Frank Seddio as the next Brooklyn Democratic Party leader was historic. Bichotte is the first Black woman to lead a city’s county committee, representing a generational sea change in Brooklyn politics. She’s sought to diversify the party’s membership and change party rules allowing trans and nonbinary people to serve in leadership, and has welcomed the next wave of leaders to the party.
9. Yvette Clarke
Yvette Clarke narrowly avoided losing her seat in a primary two years ago but strengthened her ties to her district and introduced legislation banning facial recognition technology in public housing. She faced a rematch with Adem Bunkeddeko and three other candidates – and outlasted them all in the June primary with 54% of the vote. Clarke is busy securing as much congressional pandemic aid for the city as possible.
10. Zellnor Myrie
Zellnor Myrie, who once worked as a pro bono attorney combating police brutality, saw the abuse up close when he was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed at a peaceful demonstration at Barclays Plaza on May 29. The NYPD’s response to the George Floyd protests and Myrie’s treatment received widespread attention and engendered sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement. Myrie encouraged activists to keep demonstrating and introduced a bill to end qualified immunity.