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.