Kings County Politics
By Stephen Witt
Wrestling for reform in the Democratic Party
In the crazy world of Kings County Politics, young up-and-comers are making inroads.
A case in point is Lincoln Restler, the incumbent Male 50th Democratic District Leader representing Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Wallabout.
Basically, Restler’s entire campaign mantra boils down to the need to “clean up the corruption in Brooklyn politics.”
So said Restler at his crowded fund-raiser at a Williamsburg eatery this week filled with like-minded people who paint Kings County Democratic boss Vito Lopez as all that’s evil about Brooklyn politics.
Ironically, Restler is a relative newcomer to Kings County Politics, and his Lopez-backed opponent is Community Board 1 Chair Chris Olechowski, a longtime Polish-American civic activist in a Polish-American community recently overrun with hipsters.
Lopez may be a lot of things as a county boss, but when it comes to picking Democratic candidates for civil and Supreme Court judgeship, he also allows fellow district leaders a say and as such, the Kings County Civil and Supreme Court benches are a reflection of the borough’s diversity.
This is a far cry from Mayor Bloomberg, whose appointments to the city’s Family Court bench have been an abomination in regards to being a reflection of the city’s diversity.
In any event, Restler is one of the kingpins in the borough’s political reformer movement that includes both the Male and Female 52nd Democratic Assembly District Leaders Chris Owens, son of former Congressman Major Owens, and Jo Anne Simon.
But it’s Restler who appears to hold the most political promise. A Brown University graduate, Restler is a twenty-something politically ambitious person who already has raised over $50,000 for his reelection campaign to a nonpaying political job that comes with some clout.
Additionally, Restler is showing political muscle as an up-and-comer. Among those backing him are Borough President Marty Markowitz, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Congressman Jerry Nadler, state Sens. Daniel Squadron, Velmanette Montgomery and Eric Adams, Assembly members Jim Brennan, Karim Camara and Joan Millman, and City Council members Diana Reyna, Tish James, Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander.
Restler aside, one of the ongoing battles between this Democratic Party reform movement and the Party Machine is the party backing of people running for judgeships – be it on the civil or Supreme Court level.
This applies to the First Municipal Court District including Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Fort Greene and parts of Park Slope, which has an opening for a civil court judge.
Lopez is backing attorney Lara Genovesi, daughter of late powerbroker Assemblyman Tony Genovesi for the bench. Restler and the anti-Lopez group supports openly gay litigation lawyer Richard Montelione
Genovesi was rated as “Highly Qualified” by the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission, a statewide network of independent screening panels for judicial candidates, while Montelione was rated as slightly lower as “Qualified.”
At the fund-raiser, Restler gushed about his support for Montelione.
“I support him (Montelione) because we need reform-minded judges who are independent of the Brooklyn Democratic machine,” said Restler.
Among those supporting Genovesi is Assemblyman and presumptive Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
Jeffries, as of press time, did not back anyone in Restler’s district leadership race and the thinking at KCP is he will sit this election out as he received strong support from Lopez and his cronies in his landslide victory over City Councilman Charles Barron in the recent Democratic Congressional Primary.
Jeffries also recently came out in support of Genovesi for the judgeship race.
“Lara Genovesi has the integrity and legal experience we need and deserve in our judges, and most importantly, she is truly dedicated to justice. I am proud to endorse Lara Genovesi for Brooklyn Civil Court Judge,” he said.