Today’s news:

Frank Seddio and Jo Anne Simon fight to replace Democratic party boss Vito Lopez

The Brooklyn Paper

Rival politicos from liberal Brownstone Brooklyn and old school Southern Brooklyn are fighting to become Brooklyn’s new boss now that scandal-scarred Assemblyman Vito Lopez will not seek reelection as party chairman due to allegations that sexually harassed Albany employees.

Canarsie district leader Frank Seddio, a longtime member of the old guard Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, and Brooklyn Heights district leader Jo Anne Simon, who ran a failed Council campaign against the Lopez machine, are already jockeying for support among the borough’s fractured party leadership, which will elect a new boss next month.

Seddio, a former assemblyman himself, says he’s the clear favorite over Simon.

“It’s kind of like running a marathon, where I’m coming in number one and she’s number 6,367,” said Seddio, who has already snagged the endorsement of Borough President Markowitz. “She might be in the race, but there’s a very big difference between us.

The Canarsie attorney says his ability to bridge gaps and bring people together makes him a natural choice for the borough’s top Democrat — a powerful post coveted by politicos because party bosses appoint judges.

“I’m going to very actively pursue the leadership,” he said. “I will reach out to all the leaders — I have a good relation with all of them and I think that I can count on their support.”

At the very least, he can rely on backing from Michael Geller and Pearl Siegelman, the male and female district leaders in Sheepshead Bay, who voiced their support for Seddio despite belonging to a different democratic club — the High-Way Club.

“The borough’s becoming more conservative and she’s very liberal,” said Geller. “Frank has been around long enough and he’s a very good district leader.”

Simon, for her part, says it’s time for a woman to head Brooklyn’s Democratic party — and hopes she can alter a club culture that marginalizes female members.

“Women’s views are not solicited, their perspectives are not listened to,” said Simon, who casts as part of the Lopez political machine. “We have to move forward into a new era.”

One of the first moves Simon said she would make as chairwoman would be to get rid of the “at large” committee members — direct appointees by Lopez and previous party bosses who, unlike most district leaders, were chosen for their seats rather than elected.

Lopez was accused of cronyism for naming a handful of his supporters as new “at large” members — including Seddio, who later was elected to the obscure district leader position on his own merits.

“We need to open things up to make them more transparent,” said Simon, who lost a 2009 city council race to Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) — a Lopez-backed candidate. “We need chances for the leadership to develop.”

But paring down the party posts to just male and female district leaders from each Brooklyn assembly district won’t be easy — especially because the Lopez-appointed members will likely be asked to vote on their own fate.

District leader Chris Owens, Simon’s male counterpart in Brooklyn Heights, said Simon is the best person for the job, but fears the “ad hoc members” will be a major challenge for her.

“I don’t know for sure that they’re all going to vote for Seddio, but if you have to bet on each one, if they were appointed by Vito and they don’t have loyalty to someone else, they are going to view it as a last act of loyalty to their former boss,” said Owens.

Lopez has not resigned from his Assembly seat, but he remains under investigation for allegedly funneling money through his housing non-profit. His predecessor as party boss, Clarence Norman, was disbarred and removed from the chair position in 2006 after he was found guilty on corruption and bribery charges.

Seddio, who has described his relationship with Lopez as a “friendship,” says he recognizes the seriousness of the charges brought against the Democratic honcho — but doubts the current scandal will detract from what he says is a largely positive legacy.

“We have to remember, Vito came in and made a great effort to unify the party at the time,” he said. “The party was in the red, there was no money to function or operate, and today, through Vito’s efforts, we brought the party into the black and we can maintain our operations throughout the county.”

Assemblyman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie), who replaced Seddio when he stepped down from his Albany post, said that Seddio’s likely to be the next boss thanks to his ability to bring people with opposing view points to the same table.

“He is very well liked, and he’s well liked amongst people who are on opposite sides of the political world,” said Maisel. “He’s just a very nice guy, he’s very sincere, he has a lot of experience, and he will understand the views of the other guy. He doesn’t try to divide people.”

But insiders say Simon and Seddio aren’t the only possible contenders.

Assemblyman Karim Camara (D–Crown Heights) is reportedly considering a run, but the chairman of the Assembly’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus has not yet officially declared his candidacy.

Updated 11:06 am, August 30, 2012: Story updated to add more context.
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Reader Feedback

r185 says:
Maybe I missed it. But did this article manage to not mention that Seddio resigned a judgeship under ethics charges?!
Aug. 30, 2012, 10:31 am
r185 says:
Maybe I missed it. But did this article manage to not mention that Seddio resigned a judgeship under ethics charges?!
Aug. 30, 2012, 10:31 am
Ahab from Bay Rij says:
I know nothing about either of them from before today, but the given the first quote from Seddio in this article he sounds like just another ——. It's 2012 and the biggest democratic county in the country - can't we please get someone who is at least civilized and who got into politics with good intentions.
Aug. 30, 2012, 11:03 am
Ahab from Bay Rij says:
I know nothing about either of them from before today, but the given the first quote from Seddio in this article he sounds like just another ——. It's 2012 and the biggest democratic county in the country - can't we please get someone who is at least civilized and who got into politics with good intentions.
Aug. 30, 2012, 11:03 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
If Lopez appointed Seddio, he ought to be massively defeated. Where are the DA and FBI on this ongoing corruption in the Brooklyn Democratic organization? Why won't law enforcement do something to root out these criminals once and for all?
Aug. 30, 2012, 12:09 pm
jerry from brighton beach says:
I give Seddio 6 months to a year before he has to resign from the leadership. In today's NY Post Seddio says that he doesn't think Vito did any of the sexual harassement.(LOL)
Birds of a feather stick together.
Look who came from the TJ Club...Kruger,Weiner,Norman,Lopez & the godfather of of Meade Esposito.

Case closed.
Aug. 30, 2012, 12:19 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
"“The borough’s becoming more conservative"

What? The breakdown of Lopez's machine makes me think it's not.
Aug. 30, 2012, 12:51 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
May I kindly imply that in my opinion, this piece is horse radish? Thanks you. I feel much, much better! Sorry for the interuption.
Aug. 30, 2012, 1:17 pm
sal from coney island says:
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz never learns his lesson.
What a joke endorsing Seddio .
It only shows that Marty surely knows how to kiss A%$ and always did.
Aug. 30, 2012, 1:34 pm
Mike from Sunset Park says:
Why not Ed Koch? He's not doing anything and he's in the same age range as most of the Democratics in Brooklyn.
Aug. 30, 2012, 2:32 pm
Ken from Greenpoint. says:
Marty Markowitz is busy cutting ribbons...
Aug. 30, 2012, 5:08 pm
Ken from Greenpoint. says:
Marty Markowitz is busy cutting ribbons...
Aug. 30, 2012, 5:08 pm
Ed from Gravesend says:
Why not Assemblyman Jim Brennan. His chief of staff was arrested for sexual assault.
Aug. 30, 2012, 11:27 pm
judahspechal from bed-stuy says:
An an INdependent I nominate, the People of Brooklyn, as party Boss. We constantly complaint about politician's behavior, yet we give them power by creating another level of ruler-ship, that proves to be corrupt, yet we are not calling for its abolishment.The untutored Sheeeples! What an F'ing disgrace we all are.
Aug. 31, 2012, 10:09 am
Tim from Boerum Hill says:
Jo Anne is clearly and obviously the best choice. The Brooklyn Democratic Party will shine with her as the head. Seddio is already tainted and we don't need to go down that road again..
Aug. 31, 2012, 10:55 am
Jason from Park Slope says:
Jo Anne has a better chance of winning the NYC Marathon next month than the county leadership.
Get real folks. It's a done deal. Seddio is the new Vito.
Sept. 1, 2012, 1:34 am
Rich from Park Slope says:
Seems like Simon's biggest negatives are that she is not connected enough to the corrupt politicians who are trying to hang onto their power and perks and she isn't going to be as good at raising money (contributions? or bribes?) for the party as a protege of Lopez, Carl Kruger and Meade Esposito. One big positive, she is less likely to end up being investigated or indicted for something unethical. As for Michael Geller's argument that Brooklyn is getting more conservative, its just the opposite in most of the areas I know
Sept. 7, 2012, 11:05 pm

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