Lopez To Step Down As Party Chair; Seddio Plans To Run For Empty Seat

In the wake of sexual harassment allegations, Assemblymember Vito Lopez announced on August 27 that he would not seek re-election as chairperson of the Kings County Democratic Party, but would run to keep his Assembly seat.

Democratic District Leader Frank Seddio is planning to run for the soon-to-be-empty seat.

“I hope to bring the party together to create a party in harmony with each other, and I look forward to being able to lead with inclusion to create a better Democratic Party for Kings County,” he told this paper.

As of this writing, the only other announced candidate for county leader was Jo Anne Simon, a district leader from Brownstone Brooklyn. A third potential candidate for the post is Assemblymember Karim Camara, who represents central Brooklyn, but since he is not currently a district leader, a rule change would likely be necessary to allow him to take the position. The vote for the new county leader will be held on September 19.

Elected officials and political leaders praised Lopez’s decision to step down as chair, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who also expressed his support for Seddio as the next county leader, calling him “the right man for the right job at the right time,” and saying, “Frank embraces the diversity of Brooklyn like I do, and among his greatest assets is the ability to work with everyone, being open and responsive to fresh ideas, and having the ‘steady hand’ to reform and reinvigorate the Kings County Democratic Committee.”

Lopez, a 14-term legislator, who represents Bushwick and Williamsburg in the Assembly, was stripped of his Housing Committee chairpersonship on August 24, when the sexual harassment allegations became public. According to reports, Lopez allegedly sexually harassed two staffers, making advances on a trip to Atlantic City over the summer and one allegedly had to fend him off.

“The onslaught of character attacks has put enormous emotional pressures on my family and close friends,” Lopez said in a statement, which also denied the allegations.

“I plan to continue to serve the residents of the 53rd Assembly District and the borough of Brooklyn,” Lopez continued. “With that objective in mind and with appreciation of the support that I have received in recent days from so many friends, community and religious leaders and political leaders, I regrettably take this action.”

A source who wished to remain anonymous said, “I think it will be difficult for him to remain in the Assembly. His future will be difficult – there will be other investigations, [such as the] joint commission on ethics, maybe civil lawsuits by these young ladies. I think his life won’t be well, in that respect.”

“I am relieved that he did the right thing,” Markowitz said. “Now we must unite as a party and move quickly to find a successor with just over two months to go before this November’s important election.”

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