On September 13, New York City residents will head to the polls to vote in the Democratic Primary for their state assemblyman and state committee person (district leader).
In Bed-Stuy, the race will be between the current district leader in the 56th A.D., ., and , the current chief-of-staff for outgoing Congressman Edolphus Towns.
What is a district leader’s role?
A district leader is an unpaid county party official who performs a valuable set of duties on behalf of his or her political party within a corresponding assembly district. These roles include:
- Galvanizing the community to vote in the primary elections every September and the general elections in November.
- Hiring poll workers and election inspectors, running election day operations, as well as keeping the community informed of their voting rights and changing information around voting and the polls
- Listening to the registered party members of the district to learn what issues are affecting their quality of life, such as housing, employment, education, environment, and crime
- Working closely with the district’s city, state, and federal elected officials from the party to insure that the voices of the district’s party members are heard
- Provides support to elect party members to public office in the district
- Serving as judicial delegates who act largely as the rubber stamps of elected officials when selecting judges.
Each assembly district gets to elect two district leaders, one male and one female, with the same responsibilities. The district leader serves a two-year term.
Bed-Stuy’s female district leader in the 56th A.D. is Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, who is unchallenged and will remain in her current role as both assemblywoman and female Democratic district leader.
Bed-Stuy Patch spoke with this year’s two candidates – Wiltshire and Cornegy—in a head-to-head survey of how they see their role as district leader, their professional strengths and Bed-Stuy’s unique challenges.
Bed-Stuy Patch: What do you feel is the most critical aspect of a District Leader's role?
Al Wiltshire: Serving as a liaison between the community and elected official and making sure the community gets the services it needs and is entitled to.
Robert Cornegy: For me, I think it is vetting judges for the civil and supreme court that sit on the Kings County bench. It has been proven that people of color across the county have been sentenced for similar crimes disproportionately. For example a marijuana possession gets 30 days in prison. This type of sentence can ruin someone’s life because during that time that they’re incarcerated, they lose their jobs, can’t pay bills. So I take the role of selecting judges very seriously as it can impact a community’s overall quality of life.
BSP: How do you feel your professional experience lends itself to making you the candidate that is best qualified to fill the role as district leader?
AW: I have relationships with all of the elected officials, I’ve been involved with working in the private sector; this affords me the opportunity to get things done.
RC: My relationships have allowed me to not only work in the context of the district leader role, but I know where to take the issues. A lot of people are not aware of which type of leaders are responsible for which roles, so because of my relationships, I’ve been the eyes and ears on the ground as it relates to disseminating which issue goes to which leader.
BSP: What would you say is the greatest challenge in Bed-Stuy, as far as your role as district leader?
AW: Getting us registered get us out to vote and then getting us out to vote. We turned out for the presidential election, so I know it can be done. The local elections are just as important. We’ve got to unite, register and vote, because if you don’t vote, you don’t get the services you need.
RC: Being someone who is highly visible and accessible in the community, I always find myself in referral role. So trying to address all the people’s needs is a challenge. There’s always that extra step between what I actually do and the problem getting solved, and people don’t always understand what I actually do; they just think I can solve issues. So it’s that extra step that’s very frustrating for me.
BSP: How do you plan to tackle that challenge?
AW: I meet with the community groups. The seniors are often involved, so I get the seniors to speak with their children; I meet with the community groups, tenant associations and show examples of other communities who come out to vote and get the services they need. We need to do that. Even in the high schools, we have youngsters who are 18 and eligible to vote. We can get them registered before they graduate. There’s a lot that can be done.
RC: By continuing to serve and place the highest quality on this level and seek the office beyond my level to answer people’s needs. So I work extremely hard so that I can be available and ready to serve as one of the best referral sources to deal with the issues the community brings to me.
To read more about Al Wiltshire, his endorsements and his platform, go here.
To read more about Robert Cornegy, Jr. , his endorsements and his platform, go .
To confirm the location of your poll site and/or to see a sample ballot, go here.