Change is in the air in North Brookyln as the absentee ballot count for New York’s 2020 democratic primary elections boosts upstart progressive candidates to victory, unseating longtime representatives.
“With the in-person vote include, we’re now ahead by 265. And our lead is growing,” Gallagher tweeted on Tuesday night.
Lentol was ahead by nearly 1,800 votes after the in-person vote in June, but an explosion in mail-in voting due to the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic delayed the final results by nearly a month. Continue reading →
Two insurgent candidates in North Brooklyn’s Democratic primary are suing Governor Cuomo and the New York State Board of Elections over the invalidation of thousands of absentee ballots.
Emily Gallagher, candidate for the New York State Assembly, and Suraj Patel, candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, joined over a dozen voters to challenge the disenfranchisement of what could be one in five voters in the 12th Congressional District, which encompasses Greenpoint and much of Williamsburg, according to The Intercept.
“A 1-in-5 disenfranchisement rate is far too high for a developed democracy,” said Patel in a statement.
The issue, plaintiffs argue, stems from a conflict between executive orders issued by Governor Cuomo and a policy of the U.S. Postal Service. When Cuomo changed election law to extend the deadline to submit absentee ballots to June 23, the day of the primary, he also made sure every registered voter in New York received a prepaid envelope for his or her ballot. To be counted in the election, each ballot must be postmarked by June 23. However, the cash-strapped Postal Service usually does not postmark postage-paid envelopes, reported Gothamist.
We can’t comment on a usps error. If the ballot is not time stamped by 6/23 it will be deemed invalid.
The result is a further invalidation of voters’ absentee ballots, even after only a little more than half of all ballots sent out were returned in Gallagher and Patel’s districts. Voters returned only approximately 9,700 ballots out of 17,000 distributed in the 50th Assembly District, and returned 28,400 ballots after more than 52,000 were sent out in the 12th Congressional District. Continue reading →
After the pandemic struck, Kevin Forsyth, a resident of East Williamsburg, went up to his parents’ place in Connecticut to ride out the worst of COVID-19’s spread.
Anticipating that he wasn’t going to be in Brooklyn for the Democratic primary, he then filled out an application for an absentee ballot in May. But come June 23, it still hadn’t arrived. On primary day, he decided to make the two-and-half-hour drive back into Williamsburg to vote in person.
“It was pretty absurd,” he said. “But I know those primaries matter, and these races are tight. I wanted to show up for it.”
Forsyth’s story is one of ten Emily Gallagher, a candidate for the 50th District in the state Assembly, has collected to document absentee ballot irregularities during a primary amidst a pandemic. Despite voters reporting issues with absentee ballots, Gallagher remains optimistic that these votes will clinch her first position in elected office.
Incumbent Assemblyman Joseph Lentol hopes, however, that his 15% lead over Gallagher after in-person voting won’t budge. Tomorrow, the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) will put each candidate’s optimism to the test as it begins to tally mailed-in votes across Brooklyn. Continue reading →
Emily Gallagher is no stranger to assuming the role of David against a political Goliath. In 2016, she lost a race to unseat an entrenched district leader in North Brooklyn who had served the district longer than Gallagher had been alive.
Now, Gallagher is running to represent North Brooklyn in the New York State Assembly against someone who—again—has been in office longer than she has been alive: Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, beloved by many during his half a century in elected office.
Greenpointers spoke with Gallagher ahead of the June 23rd primary elections to discuss how her campaign has changed in the midst of a pandemic and to get her take on the citywide protests that have erupted after the killing of George Floyd.
To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for election to the Assembly?
I am a 14-year resident of Greenpoint. In my second year in the neighborhood, I became involved with activism around the environment. Additionally, I became very involved in activism around safe streets and transit advocacy, pushing for better subways, pushing for bike lanes, pushing for justice for pedestrians and cyclists.
Throughout all of this activism I started learning how important it was to have allies that both were willing to champion the causes of the neighborhood but were also able to push for forward-thinking policy in advance. I’m a survivor of sexual assault. I love the idea of pushing for public hearings and for trauma-centered and victim-centered discussions. I saw a lot of hesitancy to participate from our Assemblymember, and then I learned he’s been in office nearly 50 years. I decided it’d be worth it to challenge him and to the very least have a conversation about these issues and at the ideal get someone in there who—me—understood the story of the community.
The death of George Floyd has reverberated across the nation, with protests erupting across New York City. Do you think police brutality is an issue in North Brooklyn, and if so, what policies would you support to combat it?
I think that police brutality is an issue in North Brooklyn. I have seen in my own community people receiving poor treatment by the police, especially around the issues of cycling. I think this is an issue for our whole country, and North Brooklyn could be a leader in changing the tide. A big part of my platform is actually shifting from being police-centered to thinking about how policing is the band-aid solution for every other problem that we have.
I think we should start shifting to solving the roots of the problems. We see so much interaction between the youth and the police. We’re also seeing jobs programs being cut. We’re seeing after school programs being cut. A lot of times, we are using the police as a way to hide the poor services that we are giving to vulnerable community members, and I think that we can actually shift the power in a way that benefits everyone.
I’ve also been calling for the repeal of 50-a for months. There’s a lot that we do to protect bad-acting cops, when what we should be doing is protecting vulnerable people and making sure that they have the resources that they need and are protected.
No one could have anticipated COVID-19 when the race for the 50th Assembly District began. How has COVID-19 changed your campaign and what pandemic-related issues would you focus on if elected to the Assembly?Continue reading →
In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young, progressive upstart, defeated Joe Crowley, a career politician and longtime U.S. Congressman, to win a seat in the House of Representatives representing Queens. Echoes of that narrative, an upstart candidate running an uphill campaign against a party mainstay, have reached North Brooklyn.
Lentol is an institution in North Brooklyn with more than 47 years in elected office, fighting for more green space in the 50th Assembly District and pushing for criminal justice reform at the state level. Greenpointers spoke with Assemblyman Lentol to discuss how his platform has changed in the midst of a pandemic and protests against police brutality ahead of the June 23rd primary elections.
The interview has also been edited and condensed for clarity.
To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for reelection to the Assembly?
I’ve been in office for a while, and I have a long record of accomplishment. Especially now that I’ve gained a lot of seniority, I’ve been able to do things that I wasn’t able to do as a junior member in the legislature. That not only helps enact good legislation, but it also helps our district. I intend to continue in that vein.
A post shared by Joe Lentol (@joelentol) on Jun 3, 2020 at 12:21pm PDT
The death of George Floyd has reverberated across the nation, with protests erupting across New York City. Do you think police brutality is an issue in North Brooklyn, and if so, what policies would you support to combat it if reelected?
I don’t know if it’s an issue in North Brooklyn, but it is an issue in New York state, and I represent the entire state. I think the time has come to finally repeal 50-a, a statute that was passed that protects the police officers’ personnel record from being used against them in court. It’s an anachronism now and I think the events that happened in Minneapolis show us that we need to repeal that statute.
Then there are also other reforms that I’m championing, like the STAT Act, for example, that I believe we should fight to pass, which gives statistics for who gets arrested and what race they are. Right now, there is no law throughout the state or even in New York City that requires racial information to determine whether or not people who are arrested have been arrested in a way that’s been discriminatory.
No one could have anticipated COVID-19 when the race for the 50th Assembly District began. How has COVID-19 changed your campaign and what pandemic-related issues would you tackle if reelected to the Assembly?
People are adopting dogs now and cats because of the pandemic. Especially in the time when they’re sick and have to stay home, they’re wanting to have an animal. We still see a persistence in the ACC [Animal Care Center] in euthanizing animals that don’t need to be euthanized. I’ve introduced a bill to stop them because I’ve seen incidents in some other publications that animals have been euthanized that have been perfectly healthy and ought to be adopted.
The most important bill that I’ve introduced that has now come to fruition is the Compassionate Helper Bill. The most terrible thing about this pandemic is that people die alone. I thought that nobody at all was addressing that problem. Fortunately, with a little bit of pressure that we put on the governor, we introduced a bill to require the hospitals to do this. And the governor and hospital association reached an agreement to have a pilot program. Beginning this week, there will be compassionate helpers who will be outfitted with PPE to sit with and care for people who are afflicted by the virus. Continue reading →
Ahead of the June primary election for the New York State Assembly’s 50th District (which includes sections of Greenpoint and Williamsburg), incumbent Joe Lentol and challenger Emily Gallagher will both hold petitioning launch events this weekend with supporters in order to get on the ballot. Continue reading →
Emily Gallagher is no stranger to being a squeaky wheel.
The 35-year-old Greenpoint activist has tackled hyper-local issues like bike safety and the 94th Precinct’s response to sexual violence. She ran for district leader in 2016, losing by 344 votes.
Earlier this year Gallagher, a member of Brooklyn Community Board 1, suggested that the board use special City Council funds for a service that tracks constituent issues. The board revealed it bought an SUV instead.
“I try to choose battles that are activist battles,” she said.
Now, she’s taking on a longshot primary campaign to unseat Democratic Assemblymember Joe Lentol, a third-generation lawmaker who has represented Greenpoint and nearby areas for the last 47 years.
Gallagher is only the second person to challenge Lentol in a primary — and the first since 2010.
Some friends and I were sitting out on the grass in Transmitter Park one warm June evening watching a film when we were approached by a young woman campaigning for Emily Gallagher, who was running for the position of Female District Leader of the Democratic Party. Most people, even people who follow politics closely, would not know there was even a Female District Leader, let alone what the job entailed. But I was familiar with the position because Peter McGuinness, the legendary Greenpoint Democratic Boss and the namesake for McGuinness Boulevard, owed his rise to power to his Female co- leader, Margaret Conlon.
A District Leader is an unpaid position in the local Democratic Party, representing the neighborhoods of Greenpoint, North and South Williamsburg on issues regarding judicial nominations and elections. At the end of World War I, McGuinness, had grown fed up with the inertia of local Democratic politicians, but he had never gone to high school and needed someone’s help to write letters to the editor criticizing the party establishment. He turned to Conlon, a poet as well as a skilled prose writer, who helped McGuinness write a series of highly provocative attacks on the corruption and inertia of the local political machine and the letters hit home. Thanks in large part to Conlon, she and McGuinness in a shocker were elected as local Democratic Party leaders and they served effectively for years, bringing a number of positive changes to our area and making history. Continue reading →