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Kings County Politics (KCP)

The race to succeed Vann
With the state officeholders and Democratic District Leader primaries over this week, the race to succeed Central Brooklyn’s dean of politics, the term-limited City Councilman Al Vann begins in earnest.

While much has been written in this column about male Democratic District leader and Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA) President Robert Cornegy and his plan to succeed Vann, two local church reverends and longtime community activists have also thrown their hat in the ring.

Rev. Dr. Robert Waterman, 48, the pastor at Antioch Baptist Church, 826-828 Greene Avenue, said he is running because the ground has shifted in the last three decades, and it’s important to bring new independent thinkers with deep Bed-Stuy roots to the political process.

“If you do not prepare a community for change or empower new and fresh people then the community suffers,” said Waterman, noting Cornegy’s close ties with Vann and the perception that he is the councilman’s handpicked successor.

“Some people have this thing in the political process that you have to wait your turn, but if you’re a puppet to the old guard that means the old guard hasn’t changed,” he said.


Waterman, who has already reported raising $28,000 for the race with the city campaign fiancé office, indicated that Vann went against his own community in deciding to support the mayor’s overturning of the term limit laws and in running for a third term.

“When people stay in office too long you have to ask do they still represent the people or themselves. Once they stay in office too long they sometimes stop representing the people’s will. To me a public servant should be a public servant and not superstar,” he said.

Waterman said the key issues is about maintaining institutional services such as hospitals while representing both brownstoners and those living in public housing equally.
“You can’t be a city council member to only a certain group of people just like President Obama can’t just be a black president. He has to represent everybody,” said Waterman.

Waterman said this includes a Bedford-Stuyvasant that is becoming more multicultural with a growing Jewish and gentrified white population beginning to trickle into the community.

“God is a universal god and you have to deal with people trying to work together,” said Waterman.
Waterman said at the same time the district remains majority black, and there are core issues of importance to the black community like trying to get the kids off the corners who didn’t make it through school. You have to provide jobs for them as well as other alternatives to just being on the street, he said.


Not to be outdone, Reverend Conrad Tillard, 48, and pastor of the Nazarene Congregational Church, 506 MacDonough Street, also said he is running to replace Vann.

“This election is extraordinarily important because we’re talking about a post Al Vann era. He’s been like a tall heroic person in the community for as longtime, and this is the firs time this community has to look at new generation of leadership,” said Tillard, whose ties to the community includes being on the community advisory board at both Boys and Girls H.S., and Bedford Academy and a former (two term) Co -PTA President at H.S.of Art and Design.

Tillard said whomever represents the district in the city council has to be tried, tested, committed, seasoned and experiences from day one.

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