Here Are the Candidates for Brooklyn's 5 Vacant State Legislature Seats

By Paul DeBenedetto and Rachel Holliday Smith  on July 29, 2014 7:34am

 A map of the area in Brooklyn unrepresented by either a state senator, a member of the assembly or both.
A map of the area in Brooklyn unrepresented by either a state senator, a member of the assembly or both.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

BROOKLYN — For months, five vacant seats in the state Legislature have left a large swath of Brooklyn without representation by either a member of the state's Assembly or Senate.

Four of the spots have been empty ever since officials moved to new positions on Jan. 1, and a fifth seat was vacated when former Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. went to prison in March.

This spring, elected leaders who formerly held the jobs — including Borough President Eric Adams, Rafael Espinal and Inez Barron — unsuccessfully lobbied Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call a special election to fill them.

“I’m really troubled,” Adams said in late April, when it became clear it was too late to call a special election.

“We went an entire four months without the residents of the Assembly districts, the Senate districts. Throughout the state, they were not part of the budget conversation.”

Now, all five seats will be included in the regularly scheduled Sept. 9 primary. As the deadline approaches, 15 candidates are vying to fill the open spots — one in the Senate and four in the Assembly.

DNAinfo New York analyzed campaign filings and endorsements of candidates in all five races, compiling a snapshot of who may end up joining the Legislature next year. All of the candidates who have filed financial statements with the state Board of Elections are Democrats.

Assembly District 55 | Vacated by William Boyland Jr.

After years of facing multiple corruption charges, former Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. was found guilty on 21 counts of bribery, fraud and extortion this spring. When he was sent to prison in March, it left a vacancy in District 55, which covers parts of Crown Heights, Bushwick, Brownsville and East New York.

Now, months later, at least six Democratic candidates are vying to fill the seat, with two Brownsville-born women leading the pack.

Lori Boozer, a housing advocate with a background in nonprofits, has secured the endorsements of several major unions, including the health care workers’ union 1199 SEIU and 32BJ, the building service workers’ union, according to her website. Boozer also has the most cash on hand in the race, with just less than $23,000, according to her latest financial disclosure reports.

 Former elected officials for the now-vacant seats are (from left) Eric Adams, William Boyland Jr., Inez Barron, Rafael Espinal and Alan Maisel.
Former elected officials for the now-vacant seats are (from left) Eric Adams, William Boyland Jr., Inez Barron, Rafael Espinal and Alan Maisel.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Smith, Ben Fractenburg, and Jeff Mays; New York City Council

Unsurprisingly, 1199 gave Boozer her single biggest contribution, according to the reports, donating $4,100 to her fundraising committee in April.

But Latrice Monique Walker, a staffer for Brooklyn Rep. Yvette Clarke, may give Boozer a run for her money. Clarke, state senators Velmanette Montgomery and Kevin Parker, Assemblywoman Annette Robinson and Assemblyman Nick Perry all endorsed Walker at a recent rally at Borough Hall.

Walker's campaign has about $18,400 in cash on hand, according to disclosure reports. The Walker campaign’s largest single expense this year was a $4,000 check written to Stanley Schlein, the Bronx lobbyist described by the Village Voice and New York Times as a "political fixer” and Democratic machine power broker.

Also running are two young political staffers from the district. Christopher Durosinmi, who works as a constituent liaison for state Sen. Martin Dilan, is petitioning to get on the ballot, according to his campaign, as is Ineisha Shawniece Williford, who works for Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, according to reports and campaign filings.

Anti-violence activist Tony Herbert is campaigning for the seat, with about $8,800 cash on hand, according to his latest filings. Herbert has run for Brooklyn seats before, opening campaigns for state senator in District 18 in 2008 and the City Council in District 41 in 2009.

Anthony Jones, a Brownsville resident who ran for the 55th district seat two years ago, is making another run for the spot, though he said in an email he has “not solicited any contributions from anyone thus far.”

State Senate District 20 | Vacated by Eric Adams

When now-Borough President Eric Adams took office at Borough Hall in January, he left his old job as state senator in District 20, which covers much of Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brownsville, Sunset Park and slivers of Park Slope, Gowanus and Prospect Heights.

Two candidates are in the race for the seat, each raising more than $100,000 since the start of the campaign, according to the latest financial disclosure reports.

Jesse Hamilton, a Crown Heights resident and the current district leader in Assembly District 43 — which partially overlaps with District 20 — is running with the support of Brooklyn Democratic party chairman Frank Seddio, the service workers’ union 32BJ and Adams himself.

Hamilton’s campaign has more than $88,000 in cash on hand, according to this month’s financial filings, with the single largest contribution coming from the real estate company Roth and Sons Management, which gave $6,500.

Rubain Dorancy, an attorney, former teacher and Department of Education administrator, is also running for the seat, picking up an endorsement from the powerful health care workers’ union 1199 SEIU last week.

Dorancy raised more money overall than Hamilton, but has also spent more. His latest filings show about $66,000 in cash on hand, with more than $95,000 in expenses, $75,000 of which are listed as “unitemized.”

Dorancy’s campaign said the unitemized filings were an oversight due to a recent staff change and that they are working to correct the mistake.

“We are committed to a fully transparent campaign,” a spokeswoman said.

On Monday, his campaign hit another snag when Hamilton filed a lawsuit alleging Dorancy does not live in the district, something Dorancy called a "distraction," according to the New York Observer.

A former third candidate in the race, Demetrius Lawrence, has suspended his campaign this month for the District 20 seat. In an email, Lawrence said he will still be “out and about throughout the community advocating for the constituents’ needs and concerns.”

Assembly District 60 | Vacated by Inez Barron

Inez Barron left her seat in January after being elected to the City Council, replacing her husband. Now Charles Barron is hoping he can make it a family affair yet again by taking over his wife's seat in the state Assembly.

Outspoken Barron, who left the council because of term limits, twice ran for Congress, losing to Ed Towns in 2006 as well as Towns' successor Hakeem Jeffries in 2010.

Now running for the 60th Assembly seat in East New York, Barron raised more than $17,000 in contributions, and has $11,260.98 on hand, according to his latest filings.

He has not yet had any official endorsements, though his wife is presumably supporting his campaign.

Barron's main opponent in the September primary is Christopher Banks, co-founder of nonprofit East New York United Concerned Citizens and a former member of Brooklyn's Community Board 5. 

Banks was endorsed by Jeffries in his previous council run against Inez Barron, as well as Brooklyn Democratic chairman Frank Seddio, and Assemblyman Walter Mosley, as well as the LAMBDA Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, the borough's biggest LGBT political organization.

According to his latest filings, Banks raised more than $20,000, including a $1,000 donation from the Real Estate Board of New York, and has $15,850.28 on hand.

James Tillman, also running for the seat, once worked for Diane Gordon, a former assemblywoman imprisoned in 2009 on bribery charges. Tillman raised $4,215, with $4,163.85 on hand.

Assembly District 54 | Vacated by Rafael Espinal

Newly-minted City Councilman Rafael Espinal left his seat in January, and now the man he replaced in the council wants to replace him in the Assembly.

Erik Dilan, who was term-limited out of his City Council seat last year, will run for the Bushwick and East New York seat in September's primary to fill Espinal's vacant seat.

Dilan's father, Martin Dilan, represents the area as state senator.

Dilan has $54,883.06 cash on hand, according to his latest filing. He received a $2,000 donation from the Neighborhood Preservation PAC, a landlord-sponsored political action committee, and $4,100 from Workforce Housing Advisors, a housing rehabilitation group.

The former councilman's most prominent opponent is Kimberly Council, an East New York activist who ran against Espinal for the City Council seat, losing both in the Democratic primary and the general election on the Working Families Party line.

Council is supported by health care workers union 1199 SEIU, and has $13,124, including a $500 donation from former Rep. Ed Towns.

A third candidate, Cyril Joseph, is also running but has not yet raised any money.

Assembly District 59 | Vacated by Alan Maisel

So far just one candidate has filed financial disclosure forms with the state for the vacant seat in Assembly District 59, which represents parts of Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Canarsie.

Former Assemblyman Alan Maisel won his race for City Council last year, and community activist Roxanne Persaud announced her candidacy in January, and is backed by Frank Seddio's Thomas Jefferson political club.

Persaud has $34,573.93 on hand, according to her filings.

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