City Politics

Kings County Politics (KCP)



By Steve Witt


Tremaine Wright plays it close to the vest

Among the up-and-coming political leaders in Bed-Stuy is attorney Tremaine Wright, who also owns the Common Grounds Coffee Shop at 376 Tompkins Avenue.

Wright, who grew up in the neighborhood, went to Duke University as an undergraduate, and law school at the University of Chicago, where her professors included current President Barack Obama.


Wright attended the school in 1997-98 when Obama was also a state senator, and she said her courses with him included Constitutional Law, and Race and Law.

“He was a good professor,” recalled Wright. “There weren’t that many black law school students when I went there so he (Obama) might recognize me.”

Wright said looking back on her time in the Windy City, she is not surprised that the nation’s first president of color would come from there.

“Chicago is very organized politically and you need a solid support network,” she said.

As for New York City ever producing a black president, Wright acknowledged that the black power base has shifted somewhat from Harlem to Central Brooklyn, and that it could happen here.


“Central Brooklyn definitely has the bones and the structure to produce someone for the national stage,” she said.

Wright said she is weighing her options regarding running for office herself, but pretty much ruled out running for City Councilwoman to replace the term-limited Al Vann next year.

Wright did note, however, that Rev. Robert Waterman of the Antioch Baptist Church, 828 Greene Avenue, is the only possible candidate to replace Vann to have reported raising money to the city’s Campaign Finance Board by their recent July 17 deadline.

According to the filings, Waterman raised $27,823.



Cornegy says picking judges matter

Robert Cornegy, the incumbent male 56th Assembly Democratic District Leader, said his upcoming race to retain the unpaid position against Al Wiltshire is all about who is better to pick judges.

Cornegy is also the current president of the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), and has strong backing of City Councilman Al Vann and the presumptive next congressman, Hakeem Jeffries.

Wiltshire has the backing of outgoing Congressman Ed Towns.

“Talking about all the things you’ve done in the community is a portion (of the district leadership race),” said Cornegy. “But a big part of our role is to vet candidates for judges in both the Civil and Supreme Courts of Kings County. It’s a huge issue now and I don’t know if the Al Wiltshires’ see the gravity of the situation.”

Cornegy said there is currently a disproportionate amount of Supreme Court judges of color and this affects sentencing of people for such crimes as marijuana possession.


“If you get 30 days (for marijuana possession) in this economy and probably your apartment and home is in jeopardy,” said Cornegy.

Cornegy said an example of this recently came to his attention when a 16-year-old girl was arrested for menacing after having several altercations with her mother.

Legal aid recommended to the judge that the girl be remanded to Covenant House until the problems with her mother could be sorted out, but the judge sent her to Rikers Island, said Cornegy.

“Some judges will say where’s your mother instead of viewing the child as incorrigible. The last time I checked no African-American judges were sitting in Family Court in Kings County,” he said.

At press time, a state Court Administration spokesperson said there was an African-American judge in Kings County Family Court but was unable to produce the name of that judge.


The mayor appoints all Family Court judges in the city, the spokesperson said.


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