Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge Democrats back Seminara for district leader

June 2, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Joanne Seminara is getting help in her re-election bid from Justin Brannan (center) and the Bay Ridge Democrats. At left is Seminara’s husband Pierre Lehu. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas
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Joanne Seminara, who is locked in a battle with Betty Ann Canizio in the race for female Democratic district leader of the 64th Assembly District (AD), has won the backing of the Bay Ridge Democrats.

The club announced its endorsement of Seminara on June 1. The 64th AD includes parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island.

“Joanne has been fighting on behalf of Bay Ridge for over three decades. She is unique because she sees politics purely as a means to an end which is service. From her early days as a parent organizer at P.S.185 where her two children attended, to her nearly 20 years serving as a member of Community Board 10, Joanne has been an outspoken and unflagging advocate for our neighborhood,” Jamie Kemmerer, the club’s spokesman, said in the endorsement announcement.

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There was also another reason for the club’s support, according to Kemmerer.

“Additionally, club members appreciate Joanne’s efforts to make the Democratic Party in Brooklyn more transparent, especially in terms of the judicial nominating process,” he said.

Seminara, a lawyer who has served as district leader of the 64th AD for several years, has never had a primary before. But this year, Canizio, deputy chief clerk for Brooklyn at the New York City Board of Elections, moved into Bay Ridge and announced earlier this year that she would challenge Seminara for the spot.

Canizio has served for many years as the Democratic district leader of the 49th AD in Bensonhurst. She is also a close ally of Brooklyn Democratic County Chairman Frank Seddio.

The unsung heroes of the political establishment, district leaders are grass-roots party heads who help select candidates for office, collect petition signatures to get candidates on the ballot and knock on doors to urge residents to vote for them.

In other words, district leaders do all of the nitty-gritty, unglamorous work to get politicians elected.

Each AD in New York state has two district leaders, a male and a female, in each of the major political parties.

In May, Canizio was suspended from her job at Board of Elections in the wake of the so-called “purge” scandal in which thousands of voters were removed from the voting rolls. The purge is under investigation by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

But the suspension is not keeping Canizio from running for district leader, and she also has the strong backing of Seminara’s co-leader in the 64th AD, Kevin Peter Carroll.

The Democratic Primary takes place on Sept. 13.

The Bay Ridge Democrats also announced its endorsements in other races, including the contest between Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) and political strategist Chris McCreight for male district leader of the 46th AD (Coney Island-Dyker Heights-Bay Ridge).

The Bay Ridge group is supporting McCreight, who is a founding member of the club.

“Chris was endorsed for his track record of helping to elect Democrats in Bay Ridge and beyond,” Kemmerer said. “Everyone agreed that Chris has been working as a district leader for many years without the title, but what really energized the club was his commitment to ethics and campaign finance reform. Our club favors candidates who are already doing the job they are seeking and that’s Chris.”

The club endorsed Richard Reichard, a retired New York City Department of Finance official, who is running against Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan in the 11th Congressional District (Staten Island-Southwest Brooklyn) in the Nov. 8 general election. 

“This may come as a shock to some other Democratic clubs, but our club actually supports Democrats. Roots, beliefs and results matter here, so our endorsements are never symbolic. If we endorse you, it means we will stand by you, work to get you on the ballot and do everything we can to get you elected. Our endorsement is more than just the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and our record speaks for itself,” club founder Justin Brannan said in a statement.


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