WILLIAMSBURG — Newly crowned Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairperson Rodneyse Bichotte hosted her first major event on Feb. 20 — a fundraiser where she pledged to a crowd of luminaries that included Gov. Andrew Cuomo that she would work to boost the party’s finances and build a more unified, robust political apparatus.
“Before I could run for office, I had to take on the machine, and engage and excite a lot of people who hadn’t been engaged or excited for a long time. One truth I’m taking with me into my chairwomanship is that if we’re going to build a unified, civically engaged Brooklyn, if we’re going to build a robust, responsible party committee, if we’re going to win the fight for a more fair, more equitable, more progressive New York, then we’re going to need to work together and support each other to do it,” Bichotte said at the fundraiser, which took place at Giando on the Water in Williamsburg.
Bichotte predicted that Brooklyn will become a center of Democratic Party influence in the state and in the country.
Cuomo, who congratulated Bichotte on her new post, spoke about the need for the party to reflect its diverse voter base and to take on Republican President Donald Trump in this presidential election year.
“Brooklyn knows what Brooklyn needs. The Brooklyn Democratic Party will tell what Brooklyn Democrats need. We are going to build this party stronger, more unified, more effective than ever before, and anyone who wants to take us on, bring it,” Cuomo said.
Bichotte, a Haitian-American, is a member of the New York State Assembly representing the 42nd Assembly District (Flatbush- East Flatbush-Ditmas Park-Midwood) and also serves as the Democratic Party’s female district leader in the 42nd A.D. Her male co-leader, Josue Pierre, is also a Haitian-American.
Bichotte was elected to serve at the helm of the Brooklyn Democratic Party in January, succeeding longtime Chairperson Frank Seddio. Her election was historic. She is the first woman of color to be elevated to the post.
The new party head signaled that one of her main goals is to get the Brooklyn Democratic organization out of debt.
The party is over $250,000 in the red, according to sources.
Bichotte has committed to quarterly reporting of the organization’s finances.
Pierre said the party is in great hands with Bichotte at the wheel.
“Rodneyse is a very hardworking person,” he said. “You see it in how she’s gone above and beyond for candidates she has endorsed, whether it be mayoral, or more recently the public advocate and City Council races just last year. I know she’s going to take the Brooklyn Democratic Party to the next level. Overtime, both her supporters and detractors will come to appreciate the results of her hard work,” Pierre said. “She’s a very methodical person. By tackling the finance issue now, she’ll have the resources needed to address many of the other issues which concern the progressive and moderate wings of our local party.”
Bichotte praised Cuomo’s leadership in Albany and said the governor has supported key policies that she has been pushing.
“He raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour and lifted hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers out of poverty. He’s ensured opportunity for all by increasing the utilization rate of MWBEs in state contracting,” she said.
MWBE stands for Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprises.
Cuomo has also “brought thousands of victims across the state justice and closure through the Child Victims Act,” Bichotte said.
Bichotte had previously revealed that she was the victim of sexual abuse as the age of 10. While she was recovering from a car accident, a family friend attempted to take advantage of her, she said.
Cuomo took the opportunity to honor Seddio for his years of service.
“Being the head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party is not always easy; it never was. It never will be. Brooklyn Democrats, we have some of the greatest battles in our own house, but when we leave the house, we leave together. I have worked with a lot of chairs around this state; Frank Seddio is one of the best I have ever worked with,” the governor said before presenting Seddio with a plaque for his more than 50 years of service to the Thomas Jefferson Club and his eight years at the helm of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
The attendees at the fundraiser included Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Deputy Borough President Ingrid Lewis Martin, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymembers Helene Weinstein and Latrice Walker and City Councilmembers Justin Brannan, Stephen Levin and Farah Louis.
Numerous Brooklyn district leaders were on hand including Joe Bova, Cory Provost, Sue Anne Partnow, Arelis Martinez, Eric Dilan, Darma Diaz, Ari Kagan, Margarita Kagan, Nick Rizzo, Anthony Jones, Victoria Kelly, Geoffrey Davis, Shirley Patterson, Brad Reid, Douglas Schneider, Nancy Tong, Linda Minucci, Tommy Torres and Darlene Mealy.
Also attending the event were a diverse set of representatives from labor, the healthcare sector, education, housing and small businesses.
All photos by Caroline Ourso.