The Bay Ridge Democrats packed the Dyker Beach Golf Club on 86th Street and Seventh Avenue on Thursday, May 30 for its inaugural spring gala. The event brought out almost every major Democratic pol in Southwest Brooklyn and beyond.
“If it seemed more like a party than a gala, that’s because we had a lot to celebrate, along with a great group of well-deserving honorees,” Chris McCreight, president of the Bay Ridge Democrats, told this paper. “While there was a lot of reminiscing about recent victories, we also made it clear that we are ready for 2020. We intend on not only protecting our recent wins, but turning Bay Ridge 100 percent blue.”
Elected officials in attendance included U.S. Rep. Max Rose, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Councilmember Justin Brannan and Assemblymembers Peter Abbate and Mathylde Frontus.
This year’s honorees were U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, who received the Trailblazer Award; 64th Assembly District Leader Joanne Seiminara, who was presented with the Legacy Award; Jason F. Reischel, who was given the R Train Award; Abdul Elenani of Cocoa Grinder, who received the Business Leader Award; Sexual Harassment Working Group & District Leader Tori Kelly, who was given the Changemaker Award; Ellen Driesen of the United Federation of Teachers, who was this year’s Labor Champion; and Bay Ridge Democrats Founder Scott Klein, who received the Club Member of Distinction Award.
Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee Chair, received a warm welcome. He spoke about the president’s proposal to change the immigration laws to give preference to admittance to close relatives of American citizens.
“In other words, we don’t want your huddled masses or wretched refuse as the Statue of Liberty says, we want skilled people who are already educated who can help our economy and that’s all we want,” said Nadler. “And I thought to myself, you know, if that rule had been in effect, very few members of the Democratic Caucus in the House would be in the United States today. And that is probably true of everyone here today.”
He called the 2020 election the most crucial election and went on to add, “We must not shut our doors to this generation and we must not close down Democratic government. We must preserve it, we must sustain it and we must renew it. That’s our fight now.”
He received a round of applause when he said that we must remain a welcoming country and “a human country, a country with humanity and with good feelings toward people.”
Klein, the group’s founding president, said he was truly honored to be receiving an award. He echoed Nadler’s claim about the 2020 elections, tying it in locally. “We cannot take the election of Max Rose, Mathylde Frontus and Andrew Gounardes for granted.”
Brooklyn born and raised Elenani spoke about how happy he was to learn that he that he was chosen as an honoree. He spoke of blending business with community, as he did last Monday night when Cocoa Grinder hosted its annual neighborhood Ramadan Iftar.
“Everyone who has a storefront business should use it as a front for positivity,” said Elenani. “I promise to continue to use it to spread nothing but peace, love and unity.”
Seminara said she was extremely proud of all the Democrats had accomplished over the last three decades, “when we built this big network and the culmination of having elected officials that represent the values that we believe in,” said Seminara. “It’s growing and it will persist. We’ve built a force in Southwest Brooklyn and it’s going to last for a very long time.”