The new boss of the Brooklyn Democratic party is Frank Seddio — a member of the old guard Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club and a longtime ally of scandal-scarred Assemblyman and former party leader Vito Lopez.
Party officials almost unanimously appointed Seddio to fill the powerful post in a meeting at Kingsborough Community College late Wednesday night.
“This is the new Brooklyn,” said Seddio, a former judge and Assemblyman who before the vote served as a Canarsie Democratic district leader. “It’s not them and us but we. It’s a wonderful experience to have the support of so many of my colleagues and the support of so many people who had been in opposition.”
Seddio — who Lopez appointed to his first party gig and later won the district leader spot on his own merits — became boss after 36 Dems voted in his favor, even though some of them were wearing stickers that read: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Councilman Charles Barron and his wife Assemblywoman Inez Barron were the only Dems to vote against Seddio, while Brooklyn Heights district leaders Chris Owens and Jo Anne Simon abstained.
Seddio was considered the runaway favorite before the vote, though he was expected to face some competition from Simon, who painted herself as a reformer capable of cleaning up the party’s tarnished reputation after female staffers accused Lopez of sexual harassment.
But before borough Dems chose their boss, Simon said she realized she couldn’t win and that collaboration was the best course of action — so she bailed out of the running.
“I’m committed to working toward an improved party for a shared future,” said Simon, who launched a failed Council campaign against the Lopez-run Democratic machine in 2009. “We’ll work together and it’ll happen or it won’t.”
District leaders — who are elected to their obscure party seats — predicted a Seddio landslide in the days before the vote, claiming “at-large” members controversially appointed to their posts by Lopez would sway the vote.
But before choosing the new boss, party officials passed a resolution eliminating all voting powers for the “at-large” members — bringing an end to a party policy that critics complained was a power grab by Lopez.
And Seddio had no trouble landing the influential job — which will allow him to choose judges across the borough — without the help of Lopez appointees.
Seddio says Brooklyn Dems will only be more active under his oversight, and the party will be more transparent.
“[Expect] more participation by the leaders [and] a more democratic process,” he said. “Our meeting goal is to attract Democrats to get Obama reelected and [Sen. Kirsten] Gillibrand and to get a Democratic mayor next year.”
The boss gig only opened up after Lopez — who did not attend the meeting — agreed to step down amid allegations that he groped and attempted to kiss employees.
The influential Bushwick politician also lost his title as chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Housing, but he has not resigned from his Assembly seat and is seeking re-election.
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.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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