For reborn political club, there’s power in numbers

March 8, 2016 Helen Klein
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One Flatbush political club is hoping to swell its ranks, and, at the same time, bring more attention to the neighborhood , marking its intentions with a new name.

The P20 Political Club, originally launched by City Councilmember Jumaane Williams in 2012, was re-launched and re-christened on Monday, February 28 at D’Savannah, a watering hole on Flatbush Avenue near Glenwood Road.

There, an SRO crowd applauded wildly as the new name for the club – the Ernest McD. Skinner Political Association — was announced, in honor of one of the deans of the neighborhood’s political scene, who has been a mentor to many people – including Williams — over the years.

The goal of the club is to multiply its membership and, thus, be in a position to have “influence, boroughwide and citywide,” said Williams. “We want to make sure anyone running for office, from the area, all the way to president of the United States, has to come to Flatbush and speak to the Ernest McD. Skinner Political Association. We want to be sure that they know that Flatbush is not to be messed with.”

For Flatbush, this is in many ways a sea change. For years, the political scene in the neighborhood was more quiet than dynamic, with small groups of committed activists rather than a tide of operatives and advocates commanding attention, as historically has been the case in other Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge and Park Slope.

“It would be great if we could emulate some of the political acumen that other communities have,” noted Williams. “I don’t think they have much on us in terms of being a beautiful place to live.”

There is a solid foundation to build on. “There are a lot of civic associations in all parts of the district,” Williams pointed out. “They just haven’t coalesced into a political presence [similar to that in other communities.] There are also several political clubs in the area that I think do a good job in getting people focused. Hopefully, all of us working together can really put the neighborhood on the map.”

Skinner, who admitted being “totally surprised” by the honor, echoed Williams’ words. He noted that in East Flatbush, at Community Board 17, he frequently heard complaints about the amount of services the neighborhood got, compared to other neighborhoods. “The reason why they get services is because they turn out and participate,” he stressed.

Looking ahead, Skinner said, “We want to see more young people. We want to have depth. We want to mobilize people, and we want this to be a very large club numerically that can challenge other clubs, like the Thomas Jefferson Club. We want to create something like that.”

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