Mayor Supports Brooklyn Democratic Chair Assemblywoman Bichotte-Hermelyn, as Party Leaders Call for her Resignation
By Yehudit Garmaise
When Edu Hermelyn, the district leader of the 43rd Assembly, used inappropriate language during a Zoom meeting of the Brooklyn Democrats last week, he opened the floodgates of tumultuous resentments that have been long-simmering among members of the local party.
Now, Brooklyn Democrats are calling not only for Hermelyn’s resignation but that of his wife: Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, who chairs the group and is accused of blocking other candidates’ ascent in the party.
“We will not allow for anyone to disrespect any of us, particularly when that disrespect comes from a minority woman,” said Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, who after feeling that Mr. Hermelyn’s remarks were aimed at her, joined district leaders and other elected officials who have called for the exit of Bichotte-Hermelyn and her husband. “We have fought too long and too hard: sometimes even fearing being punished.”
Words like “vindictive” and “toxic” were used about Bichotte-Hermelyn, who many claim uses her power, not to help Democrats elected into office, but rather, to stop the advancements of other members in her own party.
In fact, disempowering other Democrats appears to be part of a dysfunctional culture among the Brooklyn Democrats, according to a comment by said Brooklyn Borough President-Elect Antonio Reynoso.
“To all the district leaders that empower this county boss, you’re also on notice. I’m putting everyone on notice,” City Councilman Reynoso said. “We’re paying attention: what are you doing to empower the Democrats in Brooklyn and if you’re not doing your job, we’ll find somebody who can.”
Within the higher levels of the Democratic party in New York, a reporter asked a related question of Mayor Bill de Blasio this morning, when he was asked whether the field for New York governor’s race might currently be too crowded with progressives: with the mayor, Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Gov. Kathy Hochul planning on running.
The mayor responded amenably when he simply said, “The more progressive voices, the better to move this city and state forward, as we have a discussion about our future.”
Although the mayor did not appear at all threatened by his rivals for the governship, another reporter, however, saw a parallel between the Brooklyn Democrats’ rift between the “younger, more progressive fraction and the current chair” and the glut of progressives who are likely running for governor.
“I don’t know all the nuances, but Brooklyn is my borough, and I love my borough,” the mayor said, “but I haven’t been involved in the day-to-day issues [of the Democratic Party.]
“I can tell you: I have tremendous faith Chair: Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn of the Democratic Party of Brooklyn. I think she has done an absolutely fantastic job of unifying the party, but also the work she is doing in Albany.
“I totally support her. I am a proud progressive, and I proudly support our Brooklyn chair.”
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.