Thursday, March 6, 2014

[140307] Yes, parting is such sweet sorrow ...

Dear friends, neighbors, both ...

It is my pleasure to share with you the fact that I will be joining the Office of the District Attorney of Kings County to work with youth programs.  My first day will be on Monday, March 10.

I am excited to be of service to the young people of Brooklyn who have come into contact with the criminal justice system.  I am also honored to have an opportunity to work with District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson and the dedicated staff in an important office at a historic time.

At this point in my life, working within organizations or agencies that focus on helping our communities (with minimal hype) is a priority for me.  My father's legacy of service was not built upon empty words; protecting that legacy within our family is important to me.

It is with mixed emotions, therefore, that I announce my retirement from partisan politics.

The next chapter of my life means that this political chapter must close.   Effective Sunday night (March 9), I will be resigning my Democratic Party position of State Committee member from the 52nd Assembly District, and all related positions.  I also have no intention of seeking public or party office in the future.

Furthermore, as of Monday, I will not be participating in any election campaigns on behalf of individual candidates.  This means that I will not be making endorsements, not maintaining a political Facebook page or Twitter account, not carrying petitions, not handing out literature or making phone calls, as I usually do.  (And to my friends in the judiciary, we will not be discussing any Supreme Court candidacies, either.  Sorry!)

It is indeed time to move on and I want to thank each of you for being an important part of this journey.

Serving the registered Democrats of Brooklyn and our 52nd Assembly District these past four years has been an honor and a privilege.  My work with State Assemblymember Joan Millman and my State Committee colleague Jo Anne Simon has been rewarding, and I thank them for being patient with me.  Being the only (and the first?) African-American State Committee member to represent a "majority white" Assembly District in Brooklyn has been a good experience for me. (Given demographic changes, however, I definitely won't be the last!)

I would like to give a shout out and thank the Democratic organizations operating within the 52nd Assembly District for their support of my work and their ongoing commitment to building a progressive Party that includes people from all walks of life:  the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn (LID), the Independent Neighborhood Democrats (IND), and New Kings Democrats (NKD).  If you live in Brooklyn, join a Democratic club.  You won't regret it and we will all benefit from your participation.  There will be a new website coming soon to make your club selection process easier!

As a member of the Kings County Democrats' Executive Committee, I have had the good fortune to work with good people and experience a major shift in how our County organization is operating and preparing for the future.  Chairman Frank Seddio has been a breath of fresh air and I wish him luck and strength with the changes to come.

Being a part of Brooklyn's political landscape since 1982 has been wonderful.  I had the privilege of working with my father and his colleagues in government, as well as many other individuals and efforts.  I've been candidate, campaign manager, consultant, donor and volunteer.  I have very few regrets.  Political work is a unique and wonderful thing, as is public service, in general.  They are both addictive, but not identical.  No other business uses the public's trust as currency the way politics does.  Accordingly, we see the ups and downs of this crazy life from a perspective different from that of any other business.

Sometimes you believe your own hype a bit too much; sometimes it's hard to believe enough to keep pushing through.  I have known those paid by taxpayers (or donors or philanthropists) to spout rhetoric and feed their own egos.  I have also known those working in government, non-profit and for-profit companies who truly cared more about their needy clientele than whether or not they had the corner office, a neat title, or a holiday party.

I have seen people become legends in their own minds, deaf to the wishes of those who elected them.  On the other hand, I have seen people give every ounce of themselves in service to the people -- really listening to them before they act.  I have watched bright stars implode due to temptations -- the latest sad case being the conviction of Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr.  On the other hand, I have participated in historic electoral victories, as well as victories by candidates who always made me proud -- like the late Congressman Major Owens.  I have watched alienated voters sink back into apathetic quietude.   On the other hand, I have experienced the flames of voters' passions and basked in their warmth.

I have seen lesser souls win and greater souls lose, yet, in reality, more good souls than bad souls win office.  I have seen public servants nurture their children in the best ways to stay in an honorable family business, while others simply use their children's lives to fulfill the parents' dreams of glory or wealth.  I have known staff members who relish every moment of service to their elected bosses and the constituents, and others who simply use each staff position as a stepping stone to a new title and higher salary.

I ran for offices and knew the joy of victory.  I also tasted the bitterness of defeat.  Most troubling, however, has been the exponential growth of money as the primary factor in a candidate's "viability" and ultimate sustainability.  Yet there are still a few truly "grassroots" campaigns that start up and actually win elections.  I have lived the circular life of "reformers" becoming "establishment" and the established seeking new reforms.  My life in politics may not be unique, but it has indeed been a fascinating journey.

In the end, however, there is only one metric that matters:  Did I improve the lives of those I am supposed to serve?  Whatever I do or have done through government or non-profit work -- or even for-profit work -- the answer will hopefully always be "Yes!"

So, friends, I will continue to offer commentary on a limited number of subjects (e.g. - music and popular culture), but partisan politics won't be one of them.

Yes, parting is such sweet sorrow ...