New leader is first woman to hold post
BOROUGHWIDE — The Brooklyn Democratic Party elected Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte its new chairperson on Jan. 20, making the three-term lawmaker the first woman to hold the high-profile, powerful leadership post.
The election took place at a meeting of the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s County Committee at the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club in Canarsie on Monday, the national holiday marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Bichotte, a Haitian-American, predicted that her ascension to the party’s top job will help increase the number of women, including women of color, who run for public office.
As her first order of business, the new chairperson vowed to get the party’s finances in better shape and to increase the party’s activities at the grassroots level.
Bichotte announced that in the coming weeks, the party’s executive committee and its district leaders will meet to discuss the future for the Democratic Party in Brooklyn and develop strategies to continue winning elections (with the exception of Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who also represents portions of Staten Island, everyone who represents the borough on all levels is a Democrat), build up the financial treasury and increase civic engagement throughout Brooklyn.
“Brooklyn’s Democratic Party is made up of people of all backgrounds and all walks of life,” she said in a statement following her election. “It is more important than ever that our leadership reflects the diverse communities that have kept Brooklyn and our Democratic Party going for decades. More women of color and descendants of immigrants, like myself, are running for public office to amplify the voices of their local communities and add to the public discourse. Moreover, community and grassroots engagement are necessary to increase civic engagement across the borough.”
Bichotte also thanked her predecessor, Frank Seddio, who served as the party’s chairperson for 12 years and stunned the political world by announcing last week that he was stepping down. Seddio threw his support behind Bichotte, who in addition to representing the 42nd Assembly District, is also the Democratic district leader in that area.
“I want to thank Frank Seddio for his leadership, service and effort to unify the party,” Bichotte stated. “Over the last few years, we have developed mutual respect as colleagues and friends. Although we did not agree on every issue, we never lost sight of what matters most, working together to advance the Democratic Party agenda.”
The historic nature of Bichotte’s big win did not go unnoticed by female elected officials and Democratic Party leaders.
“As the first woman to be elected to this post, we are sending an important message to all of our communities and encouraging them to become engaged in our civic process and have a voice in the issues that impact us every day,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James said.
“I have known and worked with Rodneyse for many years. I have found her to be a bridge builder between our diverse communities of Brooklyn,” said Assemblymember Helene Weinstein.
Annette Robinson, district leader of the 56th A.D. and vice chairperson of the party’s Executive Committee, praised Bichotte as a hard worker. “She has been instrumental in helping to elect a number of Democrats in Brooklyn,” Robinson said.
“Rodneyse’s passion and dedication will continue to keep Brooklyn thriving,” predicted Councilmember Laurie Cumbo.
Councilmember Farah Louis praised Bichotte as a trailblazer. “I am inspired by this historic vote, progressive direction and creation of new opportunities to not only unify but strengthen our borough with the first-ever woman elected as chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party,” she said.
Lori Knipel, district leader of the 44th A.D., said Bichotte has a proven ability to run and win races. “She has strong progressive credentials and I’m sure her vision for the party will be one of more transparency that will unite all factions of the Kings County Democratic Party to work together,” Knipel said.
“I’ve known her for several years and I am certain she’s the chairperson that represents Brooklyn’s diverse population,” added Nancy Tong, district leader of the 47th A.D.
Bichotte’s election also drew attention from the business community.
“This is an important milestone for women in New York City and a tribute to the leadership Rodneyse has demonstrated on issues of importance to our diverse communities,” said Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of Partnership for New York City.