Brooklyn ‘institution’ Sen. Montgomery to retire, backing Wright

January 13, 2020 Emma Whitford
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Long-serving Brooklyn State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery announced her retirement Saturday afternoon, confirming rumors that had been swirling since the fall.

Montgomery, who has represented Brooklyn’s District 25 since 2013, delivered remarks at the offices of Transit Workers Union Local 100 in Brooklyn Heights. During the press conference, she also said that she will be backing Brooklyn Assemblymember Tremaine Wright among the growing field of candidates for her seat.

Montgomery has represented parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Gowanus, Red Hook and Sunset Park in the State Senate with shifting district lines since 1985.

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Wright, whose senate run was not public before this weekend, was elected to the State Assembly in 2016. She represents Brooklyn’s 56th Assembly District, which covers Bed-Stuy and northern Crown Heights.

Neither Montgomery nor Wright immediately responded to a request for comment.

“My consideration to leave this post was indeed with great concern that the work we have all put into building this district over the decades be preserved,” Montgomery said Saturday, according to amNew York. “I’m hopeful that we will be able to replace my presence with someone who will do us equally proud, and that someone is Tremaine Wright.”

Wright will have the backing of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. “We want to thank Velmanette for her great years of service to Brooklyn and beyond, and are confident Tremaine will continue to build on that record of service with distinction,” party leader Frank Seddio told the Brooklyn Eagle in a statement. Seddio is expected to step down this week.

Wright also received day-one endorsements from legislators including Latrice Walker, Diana Richardson and N. Nick Perry in the Assembly and Kevin Parker in the Senate, according to Bklyner.

Wright joins two other candidates in the race: Jabari Brisport, a public school teacher and former City Council candidate, and Jason Salmon, a former Montgomery staffer and police reform advocate. Brisport has the backing of the increasingly formidable Democratic Socialists of America.

Both candidates provided statements to the Eagle emphasizing their refusal to accept money from real estate interests. (Wright did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether she plans to accept real estate donations, though state records show that she has accepted such donations in the past.)

“I have known Senator Montgomery since I was five years old. It was an honor to work for the senator and a privilege to be a part of her office,” said Salmon. “For the past several months we have run a grassroots donor campaign with a growing list of endorsements while not taking a cent from real estate and corporate pacs.”

“Hundreds of volunteers have been out since November, knocking on over 5,000 doors in the cold and talking to their neighbors about our campaign,” said Brisport. “We’re fighting to have our voices heard over a political establishment funded by billionaires and the real estate lobby.”

Montgomery won praise over the weekend from elected officials including Brooklyn State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, who called her a “towering legend” on Twitter. Borough President Eric Adams described the senator as “a role model and a mentor” and “one of the original progressive electeds.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins praised Montgomery in a statement Saturday, highlighting her work chairing the Senate Standing Committee on Children and Families.

“Senator Velmanette Montgomery has been a personal inspiration to me, and to thousands of New York women,” Stewart-Cousins said. “First elected to the Senate in 1984, she has served with distinction and has truly become a Senate institution. She has been a leader on so many issues, but has shined as a passionate advocate for the children and families of this great state.”

The primary election will take place on June 23.

Correction (5:15 p.m.): An earlier version of this story had the wrong date for the primary election. It has been updated with the correct information. 

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