After the not inconsiderable dust settled after last Tuesday’s GOP drubbing of Congressional Democrats, we asked Willburgpoint Greene District Leader Lincoln Restler for his thoughts on what this means for life in Brooklyn.
President Obama said it best—Democrats took a serious shellacking this past Election Day. Across New York State, from Bay Ridge in Southern Brooklyn to way up north in Rochester, elected officials were given pink slips and not so gently encouraged to begin searching for lucrative lobbying gigs.
Prior to the election we Democrats were sitting pretty. We had control not just of the White House and Congress, but also of the Governorship and State Legislature in Albany. The House of Representatives is now gone to the GOP and the New York State Senate seems likely to flip in their favor, when a couple races that are stuck in recount purgatory are ultimately decided.
There is no question that Democratic dominance served North Brooklyn well. Two of our legislators are stand-outs in terms of the legislation they sponsored and the resources that they directed to our neighborhood.
Our Congresswoman, Nydia Velázquez, leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, chaired the Small Business Committee in the House of Representatives. She used her leadership position to fiercely advocate for small business owners and entrepreneurs, to secure the funding for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, and to significantly expand federal financing of New York City Housing Authority developments. The first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress, Representative Velázquez is a national progressive icon now sadly relegated to the relative wilderness of the minority.
State Senator Daniel Squadron, elected for the first time in 2008 with the support of both the Northside and Greenpoint, has been a prolific legislator. In just two years, Senator Squadron has sponsored dozens of pieces of legislation and become a statewide champion of cleaning up Albany with good governance reforms. His efforts to fund key local initiatives, like a Northside Town Hall Community and Culture Center, and his campaign to bring ethics and campaign finance reforms to New York will inevitably be weakened as a member of the minority party.
To protect our interests over the next two years we must be engaged and vigilant. We will have to work to ensure that the needs of our neighborhood are clearly and widely recognized. We also have to build for the future. My goal and commitment is to work to support the election of talented, intelligent, and progressive people who will fight for the sustainability, health, and wellbeing of North Brooklyn. This is the profile of the elected official that we need representing us at every level of office.
I encourage each resident who cares about the quality of life in our community to register to vote locally. And because Republicans are an endangered species in our part of the world, representing not quite ten percent of the electorate at the polls this past Tuesday, registering with the Democratic Party is essential. No matter how queasy the Democrats may make you, only registered Democrats are able to make their voices heard by participating in our all-important primary elections that determine our elected officials.