Brooklyn Museum Director Running for Key City Council Seat

 
	Laurie Cumbo is running for City Council. She poses in Fort Greene Brooklyn NY, October 4, 2012. 

 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 3:55 PM

A BROOKLYN museum curator wants to make her own history by becoming a city lawmaker.

Laurie Cumbo, 37, the founder and director of the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora (MoCADA) plans to announce her candidacy to replace veteran City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Clinton Hill), who is term-limited out of office next year.

Cumbo joins a crowded field of at least six candidates that includes former top political operative Ede Fox; community activist Jelani Mashariki; Khari Edwards, an ousted aide to former Gov. David Paterson; and two district leaders, Olanike Alabi and Jesse Hamilton.

Cumbo and Fox are the early frontrunners in the September 2013 election, political pundits said.

“When it comes to substance and knowing the issues, it’s Ede Fox. But when it comes to personality and popularity its Laurie,” a political insider familiar with the candidates said.

James, who is eying a run for Public Advocate in 2013, has not endorsed any of the candidates.

“There’s no vacancy yet. Everyone is asking me,” she said. “I’m not going to extend any coattails to anyone at this juncture. There’s a possibility I may change my mind.”

James, a vocal critic of the Barclays Center and other new developments, is popular in the sprawling 35th District, which includes Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, and parts of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

“Tish has been there for so long. She’s been very effective,” political consultant Lupe Todd said.

In her campaign, Cumbo plans to highlight the importance of the arts and the need for public funds to help keep community programs running.

That’s an area she’s intimately familiar with as the founder of MoCADA, which she started in 2000 on a shoestring budget after graduating from NYU with a graduate degree in Visual Arts Administration.

 

“One of the things I’m most concerned about is on the federal level is the ending of the earmarks, or discretionary items, or what Republicans call pork, or what we call meat and potatoes,” she said. “The governor cut out $160 million for not-for-profits. I”m concerned about that heading into city government.”

Cumbo faces a tough challenger in Fox and some of the others.

Fox spent four years working for City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem) and two years for City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush) before taking off to concentrate on the campaign.

“I’m very familiar with the issues going on,” she said. “You need a strong leader who has good integrity who can fight for people in the community.”

The Council seat has traditionally been held by a black female, but the white population in the diverse district has jumped by 600% since 2000, according to Census data.

That’s led some political insiders to speculate the race could be won by a wild card white candidate, with the six African-American hopefuls splitting the black vote.

“It’s still a minority district but not by much,” a pol familiar with the area said.

As for the other candidates, the big names include Edwards, who resigned as a Paterson aide after an Inspector General report called him “immature,” “irresponsible” and “ill-suited” to represent the governor in a report following an investigation into the improper use of political power over state liquor licenses.

Alabi is another familiar name with residents. She unsuccessfully ran for state Senate in a Democratic primary against Walter Mosley. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants racked up big labor support in that race and formerly worked for 1199 SEIU, the powerful hospital workers union.

rblau@nydailynews.com


Published / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, October 9, 2012
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/museum-director-running-brooklyn-city-council-seat-article-1.1178536#ixzz297xQVRSq

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commented 2013-12-22 14:21:40 -0500
Thank you