AD 55 without representation for almost a year
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Latrice Walker officially launched her campaign for Brooklyn’s 55th Assembly District at Borough Hall on Monday morning with endorsements from a Who’s Who of Central Brooklyn elected officials, clergy members and other leaders.
District 55 includes Brownsville and Bedford-Stuyvesant, along with parts of Crown Heights and Bushwick.
Walker, long-time community liaison for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, is running for ex-Assemblymember William Boyland’s seat. Boyland was convicted of bribery and extortion in March, and his legal problems have left the district without political representation for almost a year.
Congresswoman Clarke, Assemblymember Annette Robinson, Assemblymember Nick Perry, Councilmember Robert Cornegy, Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, former Councilmember Una Clarke and former Councilmember Al Vann were some of the supporters standing with Walker on the steps of Borough Hall.
Clarke said the campaign launch was a “bittersweet” moment.
“Latrice was a dedicated staff member for the last seven-and-a-half years,” she said, adding that Ms. Walker would “hit the ground running. She’s the only one with the experience and capacity to do what needs to be done.”
Walker, accompanied by her two-year-old daughter Nile Anderson, said her focus would include the Dream Act, minimum wage, seniors, public safety, public housing, jobs, affordable housing and public education.
“This district has not had the leadership necessary to make it thrive,” she said. “The community needs to believe change is possible.”
She said that the district especially needed more tools for youth, such as job training, and new business initiatives that would create good jobs.
Her first action in Albany, Walker said, would be to support Mayor de Blasio’s Cornerstone initiative, which would keep afterschool programs open until 11 p.m.
“I want to make sure afterschool is funded to the fullest extent, and keep the schools open” after hours, she said. She harkened back to her own Brooklyn childhood, when basketball, arts, double Dutch and other afterschool programs were available. “I was in African dance,” she said. “I want to bring programs like this back to the community.”
She also said she would explore revitalizing closed school buildings like P.S. 125. “It’s been empty for 25 years. Now there are plans for veterans’ housing, and also plans for a YMCA. We’re exploring options.”
Assemblymember Robinson said that Walker knew the community intimately, had the ability to get things done and was a consensus builder. “She doesn’t need job training, she’s been engaged,” she said.
Assemblymember Nick Perry said that Walker had “aggressively represented the Congresswoman and the community.” Walker is “prepared, has a knowledge of the job, is unquestionable,” he said.
Perry said it was a shame that District 55 "had to go without representation this year and be absent throughout the budget process . . . She’s the one you need to give District 55 representation.” Voicing a slogan repeated by others throughout the event, Perry said, “Latrice is the one.”
Councilmember Cornegy said that Walker was a “passionate advocate, with legislative experience. She understands how legislation is written – and she’s not someone who needs help finding the bathroom.”
Councilmeber Cumbo said that Walker had formed “tried-and-true relationships” with the leaders who represent the community. Cumbo drew applause when she implored, “Don’t let outside forces determine how the election goes.”
Other speakers included former Councilmember Una Clarke, former Councilmember Al Vann. Pastor Pastor Hamatheite of the Wayside Baptist Church, and TWU Political Action Director Marvin Holland. Endorsers also include state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, state Senator Kevin Parker, and the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators.
Walker ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for Brownsville district leader, and received an endorsement from Mr. Boyland at that time. On Monday she stressed the importance of working with “all elected officials.”
Other names in the ring for the District 55 seat include Lori Boozer, Ineisha Williford, Anthony Jones and Christopher Durosinmi.