Check out the latest news on Jesse and her campaign for District Leader in Assembly District 52.

THE CAMPAIGN HALTS PETITIONING AMID COVID-19

“In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are suspending in-person petitioning for Jesse’s campaign for District Leader.”

More from Jesse

JESSE, KRISTINA, AND SAMY ENDORSE EACH OTHER FOR DISTRICT LEADER

Three Brooklyn organizers and first-time political candidates — Kristina Naplatarski, Samy Nemir Olivares, and Jesse Pierce — are endorsing each other for District Leader.

More from their announcement

BROOKLYN PAPER’S PROFILE OF JESSE AND OTHER DISTRICT LEADER CANDIDATES

“Young District Leader candidates look to challenge Democratic status quo”

More from the Brooklyn Paper

JESSE’S OP-ED IN THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

“Party woes aren’t far away, Brooklyn: Iowa should be a wake-up call about Kings County’s problems with small-d democracy”

More from her op-ed

LID COVERS JESSE’S QUEER CAMPAIGN TEAM

“The Queer Team Behind Jesse Pierce”

More from Lambda Independent Democrats

JESSE’S THOUGHTS ON THE CHANGE IN PARTY LEADERSHIP

“Today, still, so much information is shared behind closed doors and among those in the know.”

More from Jesse

“THE CAMPAIGN HALTS PETITIONING AMID COVID-19”

In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are suspending in-person petitioning for Jesse’s campaign for District Leader. Collecting signatures and meeting face-to-face isn’t safe right now, and we’re going to continue to heed the guidance of officials to protect our neighbors and community in this time of uncertainty. We’ve made a pact with the other candidate in our race not to challenge each other’s signatures, and we hope candidates in other races can do the same.
The safety of everyone in Assembly District 52 is our priority. Petitioning is burdensome as it is: candidates need resources to collect hundreds of signatures to get on the ballot and signatures can be frequently disqualified on technicalities. ‬It’s easy for incumbents and those with resources to get the signatures they need, while those without political connections or access to election lawyers can struggle to break through. Small campaigns like ours have to work within this system to earn the power to transform it.‬
This doesn’t mean the campaign is over–far from it. ‪In times of crisis like this one, it’s crucial that we keep eyes on our democracy: we see even more clearly how those in power wield immense authority to make wide-ranging decisions that impact our elections, our health systems, and our daily lives. In the coming days, we’ll be thinking through how to continue to engage with you in a way that keeps everyone safe. The election is still slated for June 23, and we’ll continue working every day to make the Brooklyn Democratic Party work for us and our neighbors.
Keep an eye here and on Jesse’s website for more updates as we have them and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your thoughts or questions.

“JESSE, KRISTINA, AND SAMY ENDORSE EACH OTHER FOR DISTRICT LEADER”

March 2, Brooklyn — Three Brooklyn organizers and first-time political candidates — Kristina Naplatarski, Samy Nemir Olivares, and Jesse Pierce — are endorsing each other for District Leader. As their assembly districts’ representatives to the local Democratic Party, District Leaders shape Party rules. All three candidates are running to build a more inclusive, transparent, and accessible Party from the ground up.
Kristina Naplatarski is running for District Leader in Assembly District 50 (Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill) to collaborate with residents in her district and create a more engaging, accountable Democratic Party in Brooklyn. A lifelong Greenpoint resident working for Council Member Antonio Reynoso, she has fought to protect industrial jobs in her district and push for more sustainable planning and development practices across the city. Kristina will channel this history of public service and community engagement as District Leader, working toward a more collaborative, transparent Democratic Party that prioritizes local communities and fights for environmental and economic justice.
Samy Nemir Olivares is running for District Leader in Assembly District 53 (Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, Bushwick) to champion community, equity, reform, and justice in our neighborhoods. Through his service on local school and community boards and his work with the Center for Popular Democracy in Bushwick, Samy has advocated for fair wages, supported youth-led campaigns for more school counselors, and promoted safe conditions for refugees in Brooklyn. Samy believes that we should know where our leaders stand and that our Party should advocate for bold and creative ideas. As District Leader, Samy will ensure that his community’s voices are heard and promote inclusivity and justice in our local Party.
Jesse Pierce is running for District Leader in Assembly District 52 (including Boerum Hill, Dumbo, Gowanus, and Park Slope), marking the first time in 10 years that her district has had a race for the position. Jesse has fought to transform the Party and support local communities as a leader in the #RepYourBlock campaign to help Brooklynites run for and win seats on the Democratic County Committee. She is running for District Leader to fight for transparency and inclusivity in the Party, work to end corruption and patronage in local politics, and help create a Party leadership that reflects Brooklyn by making it more accessible to working families, women and nonbinary people, young people, and communities of color.
All three candidates are united in their mission to empower their neighbors and local communities and amplify the voices of everyday Brooklynites in the political process. 
In the Democratic Primary on June 23, voters in the 50th, 53rd, and 52nd assembly districts will have the choice to elect Kristina, Samy, and Jesse – three first-time candidates working to engage Brooklyn communities and transform the Democratic Party.
The three campaigns will come together for a cross-endorsement fundraiser on April 4. Details to come.

 

“YOUNG DISTRICT LEADER CANDIDATES LOOK TO CHALLENGE DEMOCRATIC STATUS QUO”

Occupying an unpaid, obscure, and poorly understood position within the Brooklyn Democratic Party, the borough’s 42 Democratic district leaders represent the lowest rung of the Kings County political spectrum, exercising limited powers, which are often employed at the direction of more prominent party officials.
While individually weak, influential party bosses have proven masters at using the borough’s district leaders as a tool to exert considerable control over Kings County politics, and the practice of promoting candidates as a form of patronage, coupled with the expense of campaigning for the volunteer position, have allowed holders of Brooklyn’s most humble elected office to go years, if not decades unchallenged, according to one political strategist. 
“Most district leaders are involved in some sort of patronage position in one way or another, either through an assembly member or a judge,” said Jessica Thurston, the vice president of political affairs for New Kings Democrats, a progressive political organization. “It’s often too intimidating and expensive to run against an incumbent. It can cost anywhere from $15,000-$100,000 to run and lose a campaign in north Brooklyn.”
This year, however, there’s a shakeup in the works. Five young, upstart challengers are mounting campaigns for district leader seats across the borough, promising to energize Kings County Democrats, and use the obscure partisan position as a tool to rally locals and drive change. 
Their candidacies follow a recent vote by Brooklyn’s 42 district leaders — who together comprise the party’s executive committee — to enact a slew of controversial new rules at the behest of former party boss Frank Seddio, including eliminating one of the party’s two annual meetings, and restricting rank-and-file party members from introducing resolutions that address “any aspect of the internal governance” of the party.
According to one maverick district leader, Seddio was able to control his former executive committee thanks to a system that promotes members who follow orders, effectively centralizing power in the hands of the party’s leadership.
“They came up in a system where someone was in charge and they would obey orders,” said Nick Rizzo, district leader in the 50th Assembly District. “The watch words are loyalty and discretion.”
Rizzo added that, while district leaders occasionally show dissent during an annual vote to nominate supreme court judges, the party’s executive committee can be relied upon in all other circumstances to obey the reigning party boss.
“Other than [the supreme court vote], I’ve never seen more than about eight or nine people go against Seddio — and even that’s very high,” said Rizzo. “Normally it’s just me and maybe someone else.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way, according to Thurston, who said that if enough young, earnest Democrats challenge the establishment, a progressive block could emerge within the party to check the powers of the committee’s leadership.
“They should be public advocates at the district level,” she said.
The following candidates are asking for your votes during a statewide primary on June 23. 
Jesse Pierce
Pierce — a former chief of operations for New Kings Democrats — wants to take the seat once held by Anne Swern, before she ran for Civil Court judge in 2019 and the district’s assembly member Jo Anne Simon (D–Carroll Gardens) appointed former assembly member Joan Millman, who plans to vacate the seat.
The 36-year-old Boerum Hill resident claimed she wouldn’t use the position as a springboard towards higher office, saying her interests are confined to rallying locals and cleaning up the party. 
“I’m more interested in organizing my neighbors so we can push power down and be a part of the decision making,” Pierce said.
Read the full article here.

“PARTY WOES AREN’T FAR AWAY, BROOKLYN: IOWA SHOULD BE A WAKE-UP CALL ABOUT KINGS COUNTY’S PROBLEMS WITH SMALL-D DEMOCRACY”

So much about our Democratic Party is broken at the national level. We saw proof of that just last week, when the reporting of the Iowa Caucus results was delayed several days over a messy combination of technology issues, disorganization and poor volunteer training. Nationwide confusion, as well as frustration from Democrats hoping for a transparent process, continues to define the caucus conversation.
But the Iowa chaos is only one example of the many ways that the national party, as well as local Democratic committees across the country, fails to connect with everyday Democrats. It’s a particular problem here in Brooklyn, one of the largest Democratic Party county apparatuses in America.
Throughout the last 10 years, the County Committee here has had a track record of misusing finances [link removed], engaging in closed-door processes to appoint officials and nominate judges, and failing to include Brooklynites at the neighborhood level. The problems plaguing Brooklyn’s County Committee have persisted under Frank Seddio, the party boss who recently stepped down following a precipitous drop in the party’s financial solvency; it is unclear in what direction his hand-picked successor, Rodneyse Bichotte, will take the party.
This lack of democratic representation can be traced to our State Committee, made up of members (known in our borough as “district leaders”) from each county, 42 of whom represent Brooklyn (two from each of our 21 Assembly Districts). The State Committee serves important functions, including electing members to the Democratic National Committee, directly shaping the health and direction of our national party.
In addition, district leaders in Brooklyn choose the party’s nominee in special elections, select judges, help create the party platform and rules, staff polling sites, and organize our neighborhoods to mobilize voters.
Ideally, district leaders work closely with their County Committee members. But in Brooklyn, the party rarely convenes the full membership: In January, party leadership voted to reduce the number of annual meetings to only one. The Executive Committee also voted to limit the power of resolutions, one of the only tools that everyday Democrats have to propose ideas for improving the party directly to its leadership. These choices stifle the voices of our neighbors who want to be part of the conversation, and put in the work, to make Brooklyn actually work for Brooklynites.We need a party that prioritizes accountability, one that’s truly reflective of the people it represents. So what can we do to fix our local party and send positive ripple effects to our state and national party while we’re at it
First, let’s all repeat again and again to our fellow Democrats how this chain works. When we know exactly what our local leaders are doing and what they have the power to do, they’ll be more accountable to us, the voters who can re-elect them — or not.
Second, we should build on the work of local organizers who have already been digging deep to make changes at the neighborhood level. By invigorating our local communities and making sure they have a platform to voice their needs, we’ll know better what our party should be fighting for.
Third, it’s on all of us to translate these local priorities into the changes we want to see within the borough’s Democratic Party. That means filling the party with active leaders who will promote transparency, inclusion, and accessibility in our party structure.
I’m not a disinterested voice. I’ve been a part of leading the #RepYourBlock campaign to help more Brooklynites run for County Committee, and I’m running for District Leader in the 52nd Assembly District, which includes Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Downtown Brooklyn, Gowanus and Park Slope, as well as other nearby neighborhoods. We need to clean up our finances and turn out voters, and we can’t accomplish these goals without a functioning and representative Party, led by an Executive Committee made up of active and engaged District Leaders.
What happened in Iowa was a national debacle, but it wasn’t unique: technical breakdowns, poor communication and structural flaws plague the Democratic Party here in Brooklyn too. If we want to make our democracy stronger in 2020, we have to start at the local level.
Pierce lives in Boerum Hill in Brooklyn.
Read the full article here.

THE QUEER TEAM BEHIND JESSE PIERCE

Elections for this campaign are on June 23rd.
Jesse Pierce is a dynamic queer community organizer running for District Leader in Brooklyn’s 52nd Assembly District (which includes neighborhoods such as Park Slope, Gowanus, Brooklyn Heights, and Downtown Brooklyn). Notably, Jesse’s campaign team is led by predominantly queer women as she fights to make the Brooklyn Democratic Party more accessible for Brooklyn’s LGBTQ+ community. 
Since becoming involved with this campaign in July, I have worked closely with the entire team, knocking on hundreds of doors to introduce voters to Jesse. I have experienced first hand how tirelessly her team works for this campaign and for the queer community. Campaign Manager Sara Shoener leads weekly team meetings for the group, pushing forward ambitious outreach strategies to engage new voters and seek endorsements across the district. Campaign Communications Director (and incoming LID board member), Jessica Thurston is an inspiration, starting her day at 5am and wrapping it up with night-time campaign events, developing social media and website materials, organizing events and campaigning for Jesse non-stop until late every day. Field Director Angela LaScala-Gruenewald plans and executes everything from canvassing events to voter registration drives, with a particular focus on involving people new to the political space and creating an open and diverse field team. This is an incredible group of strong women who are working hard to make Brooklyn better for everyone.
In addition to Jesse’s focus on a more inclusive Democratic Party, she has bold plans to change the structure and function of our current political system. Jesse wants to challenge politics as usual by focusing on participation and accountability, fighting corruption in Party governance, and streamlining the electoral process for both voters and candidates. Find out more about her platform at jessepierceforbrooklyn.com/issues/
This story was contributed by Rob Mayol. You can contact him at robmayolnyc@gmail.com
Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn is the political voice of Brooklyn’s LGBTQ community. We strive to see LGBTQ people represented in all levels of Brooklyn politics, including elected office. To become a member go to lidbk.com/join

JESSE’S VISION FOR PARTY LEADERSHIP

I’ve been following the news about Brooklyn Democratic County Committee Chair Frank Seddio’s planned departure from his role, expected this week. I’m grateful to the journalists and everyday engaged Democrats who have covered this important story — and to Chair Seddio for his commitment to the Brooklyn Democratic Party over so many years.
This change is big: Chair Seddio is the Party Boss and controls so much of the way the Democratic Party operates in Brooklyn. What’s missing is transparent communication from the Party to County Committee members. Today, still, so much information is shared behind closed doors and among those in the know. Brooklynites deserve proactive, timely, and professional communications from Party leadership — something I will advocate for if elected District Leader. County Committee members and everyday Brooklynites should be treated as the essential stakeholders that they are to this process.
Candidates for Chair owe Brooklyn Democrats clarity and communication about their vision for County Committee, especially in such an important year, in which the largest voting bloc of Democrats — Brooklynites — can organize to support the Democratic nominee for President. The meeting on January 20, at which the Executive Committee is expected to vote on Chair Seddio’s replacement, should be publicized and open to the public so everyday County Committee members know what’s going on with their leadership.
Meanwhile, we still don’t have insight into the Committee’s financial status, and County Committee members should be convened to receive an update from the Party and share their thoughts on the Party’s path forward. Party leadership also owes Brooklyn Democrats an explanation regarding the winter County Committee meeting: as it should have been held in late January or early February but is now likely to be postponed, it should be scheduled as soon as possible, and at a time and in a location accessible to as many Brooklynites as possible. It is indeed difficult to plan such a logistically complicated event, but County Committee members should be able to get together and hear from the Party in the near term.
I’m keeping an eye on this news as it unfolds. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to hearing from other County Committee members in Assembly District 52 about what they want to see in their leadership, and their vision for what the Democratic Party can do for our district.
-Jesse
Paid for by the Committee to Elect Jesse Pierce