Is Ridge a Republican stronghold?
Bay Ridge voted overwhelmingly Democrat in the 2020 elections.
Dan Hetteix/Radio Free Bay Ridge
COURIER LIFE, DECEMBER 11-17, 2020 37
BY RODNEYSE BICHOTTE
What we’re building in Brooklyn is
unique — a party made up of all ideologies,
races and creeds; a party with
a real platform, that stands for health
care for all, equity in education, affordable
housing, election reform, environmental
justice and criminal justice reform.
It’s a process, and sometimes
a messy one, but I’m proud of what
we’ve done as Democrats here. We are
a big tent party and I don’t believe we
should be conducting important business
behind closed doors.
Participation in our party is what
builds it. The inability of all wings of
the party to have their voices heard,
and to have a seat at the table, will tear
our democracy down. The “us against
them” mentality has thoroughly divided
the nation. We don’t need to look
far to see where that division ends.
That’s why at the Brooklyn Democratic
Party, we are increasing grassroots
participation. The doubling of
members in our party is something all
Democrats, no matter their leanings,
should rally around.
But, power is founded in a united
party. That means that no one faction
speaks for everyone.
That’s why, since I became Chair,
we’ve been taking steps to make the
party more inclusive and transparent.
Those steps include livestreaming
the Executive Committee meeting that
took place Wednesday night. It was the
fi rst livestream of a leadership meeting
in the party’s history.
During that meeting, we voted on a
historic rule change that allows nonbinary
individuals to openly serve in
the Brooklyn Democratic Party. However,
some comments made during the
meeting were unacceptable and not refl
ective of the diverse, forward-thinking,
united Democratic Party we are
building. I was not able to preside on
Wednesday and that’s why it’s so important
for me to disavow comments
and bullying that derailed the meeting
and offended participants and viewers.
The transgender community has
always been part of our party, and I
am pleased the steps we’ve taken offi
cially acknowledge that. No one District
Leader speaks for our party as a
whole, not even the last party chair.
Our party welcomes all backgrounds,
races, genders, and ideologies. Anyone
who believes in Democratic values is
welcome in the Brooklyn Democratic
Party, and their voice is valued.
This year, under my leadership,
we won several key races in Southern
Brooklyn, in some cases improving on
2018 numbers, despite efforts by the far
right to unseat our candidates. We also
advocated for electoral reforms that
made it easier for voters to participate
in our democracy, including voting
by mail, and made it easier for people
to understand their absentee ballots.
Those reforms ultimately helped us
win those contested races.
We organized a public meeting and
demanded answers from the Board of
Elections when they mailed erroneous
ballots in our borough.
We took great strides toward gender
equity, creating a Task Force on Gender
Discrimination and Representation
and, in our continued bid to make
the party as transparent as possible,
we are hosting a public forum meeting
tomorrow. At the meeting Brooklyn
Democrats can weigh in on fi nding
a permanent solution to amending the
rules for gender equity and inclusion.
We hosted a live-streaming women’s
panel in the lead-up to the election,
engaging elected offi cials at every
level with viewers, political clubs
and even the DNC.
Under my leadership, the party also
started to engage via social media. I know
that online engagement is essential to
communicating with our members. And,
even though I know the value of online
engagement, I also know it’s not without
its challenges in the era of the digital divide.
The disparities COVID-19 laid bare
showed us exactly who is always on the
losing end of that divide.
And, last but not least, under my
leadership, we are paying off debt and
raising money to help build a fi nancially
sound organization that we can
be proud of.
As the fi rst woman and only the
second Black leader to head New York
City’s largest Democratic party, I understand
the importance of respect.
Our Brooklyn Democratic Party has
progressives, moderates, centrists,
conservatives and further left-leaning
members. They are all part of one body,
and we will continue to ensure that every
corner of Brooklyn feels welcomed
in our party.
Rodneyse Bichotte is the Chair of the
Brooklyn Democratic Party and a representative
in the state Assembly.
A party united
BY CHRIS MCCREIGHT
Just when you thought 2020
couldn’t get any weirder, enter
the “red mirage.”
The phrase was coined before
election night this year to
remind people that Republican
candidates across the country
could gain a lead that would
later evaporate after mail-in
ballots were counted. And that
is exactly what happened, including
in my neighborhood of
Bay Ridge. Now that the foggy
mirage of Republican victories
in Brooklyn has lifted with
state Sen. Andrew Gounardes
and Assemblymember Mathylde
Frontus being re-elected
after being down thousands
of votes on election night, let’s
take a moment to look at what
happened and why.
The morning after Election
Day, Bay Ridge woke up to two
things that didn’t make much
sense. While it was pretty clear
Joe Biden was going to be our
next President, it looked like
Gounardes and Frontus had
somehow lost! While President
Donald Trump losing was certainly
losing these important local
Democratic seats was troubling.
Calls and concerned
texts asked: “Is it possible Bay
Ridge is Republican again?!,”
and “Did our neighborhood go
‘red!?” Fortunately, a time machine
would have to make that
happen, because once all the
absentee ballots were counted,
Gounardes and Frontus went
on to secure victory. In fact,
Gounardes won by three times
more than he did in 2018!
In fact, not only did Gounardes
improve on his 2018
victory, he won about 75 percent
of the vote in Bay Ridge.
Biden did similarly well, an
improvement on President Barack
Obama’s 20-point victories
in 2008 and 2012. Let that
sink in for a moment. Today,
a Republican could not get
elected dog catcher in most
of Bay Ridge. Yet the myth of
Bay Ridge being a conservative
stronghold still widely
persists. The reason for the
fable is actually simple: it’s
called gerrymandering; a process
that allows politicians to
choose their voters. The opposite
Over the decades, the State
Senate districts have been systematically
drawn to disenfranchise
Bay Ridge and dilute the
Democratic vote. The district
that Sen. Gounardes represents
includes distant, conservative
neighborhoods, like Gerritsen
and Manhattan Beach. This
was done to benefi t former Senator
Marty Golden, who was
fi rst elected in 2002 in a district
that was gerrymandered specifically
so he could run and defeat
the incumbent Democrat Vincent
The Assembly is no better.
Since 1982, not one person who
calls Bay Ridge home has served
a day in the Assembly. Bay
Ridge districts have been cut up
to include Sunset Park, Carroll
Gardens, Borough Park, Coney
Island, Brighton Beach, and, of
course, Staten Island. The worst
part is that Bay Ridge is big
enough to be its own Assembly
district, which is how it was before
1982. Talk about disenfranchisement!
Fortunately, 2022 is going to
see new district lines that are
now mandated to be drawn in
a fair, equitable, and non-partisan
manner. Democrats should
welcome these fair lines. There
is no reason to game the system,
like Republicans did for
decades. Drawn fairly, both the
Senate and Assembly districts
will continue to elect Democrats,
especially if Democrats
serve their communities well.
The new boundaries will not
just benefi t a political party,
but the entire neighborhood.
And it should also fi nally put to
rest the notion that Bay Ridge
is anything but a strong Democratic
Chris McCreight is the Democratic
District Leader for the
64th A.D. and President of Bay