BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — The race to replace City Councilman Al Vann in Central Brooklyn is becoming even more competitive, with two of the candidates in the race receiving important political endorsements.
In a not-unexpected move, the term-limited Vann will announce his support for 56th Assembly District Leader Robert Cornegy on Friday morning.
"He has been responsible for most of the institutions in this community," Cornegy said in an email. "The idea that he believes that I can continue his legacy for advocacy that has resulted in increased representation on the Kings County bench and [in] the Department of Education is awe inspiring."
Joining Vann in support will be Assemblywoman Annette Robinson and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery.
Though not surprising, the announcement puts Cornegy — who also heads Vann's political club, the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association — in a favorable position, as Vann has earned name recognition in the community for almost 40 years as both an assemblyman and councilman.
But if Cornegy has thusfar received the endorsement with most local name recognition, it's one of his opponents, former Bill de Blasio staffer and National Action Network Brooklyn chapter leader Kirsten John Foy, who may have made the biggest splash.
Foy has racked up the union support, a spokesman said, with endorsements from the New York City Central Labor Council; UFCW Local 1500, the largest grocery workers union in New York; 32BJ SEIU, the largest property services union in the country; the CUNY faculty and staff union; and the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association Local 831.
"I'm honored to have the support of organizations that represent thousands of working men and women who help make this city run and are committed to progressive values that will help move our city forward for everyone," Foy said in an emailed statement.
"I'm confident that my record of effective public service — inside and outside of government — speaks to my qualifications to be the next council member fighting in City Hall for the residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and historic Weeksville."
He's also received the support of the Working Families Party and the City Council's Progressive Caucus Alliance.
"Through his professional work and his ministry, Kirsten has helped advocate for criminal justice reforms and economic justice, and consistently fought against police abuse and misconduct," the Progressive Caucus' website reads.
The union endorsements can mean more manpower and greater resources for Foy. While it's still unclear whether those resources will be spent to fill a city council seat in a mayoral election year, the Working Families Party and other pro-labor organizations may be hoping to add like-minded candidates to the council this election cycle in order to help seat a more favorable City Council Speaker, Politicker reported.
So far each of the candidates have in some way tried to distance themselves from the label of "establishment" politician. Cornegy himself has bristled at the label, telling DNAinfo.com New York last month that he was no "machine candidate".
"The reality was I was really busting my hump in the streets trying to improve the quality of life for homeowners like myself and my family," Cornegy said.
But Rev. Conrad Tillard, who recently entered the race at last month's filing deadline and has not yet collected endorsements, said the community is looking for a change from the perceived establishment.
When asked if the Vann endorsement could present a problem for his candidacy, Tillard said he was unphased.
"If you told me he had 6,000-to-10,000 people endorsing him, then that would be difficult to overcome," Tillard said. "These aren't bombshells. He's the president of VIDA."
The Bedford-Stuyvesant pastor and activist said he was more focused on reaching out to voters than garnering institutional support.
"While those endorsements I'm sure are great for him, we're more concerned with the residents of the district," Tillard said. "We're really working hard to get the endorsement of the people."