Laurie Cumbo Officially Announces Run For Tish James' Seat


First-time candidate promises to run a "clean" campaign that will unite voters.

By Paul Leonard  Email the author

Citing weeks of introspection and prayer, longtime museum director Laurie Cumbo officially announced her candidacy for the 35th City Council District at an outdoor rally in Fort Greene on Thursday.

"I'm a visionary. I visualize things and they happen," Cumbo told a crowd of cheering supporters gathered at Fowler Square. "I have thought about this campaign and my victory, and so it will happen."

Cumbo, a 13-year veteran director and founder of the Museum of Contemporary African and Diasporan Art, promised to help usher in a new kind of politics—one free of ethnic and religious division.

"We are one community, we are one district," Cumbo said of the 35th, which includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights. "We are going through so much change, so much development, that what I wanted to do was to bring us together."


To illustrate that spirit of inclusion, Cumbo had a Muslim cleric, Seventh-Day Adventist pastor and a Burmese Buddhist monk bless the gathering before her remarks.

A self-described fourth generation Brooklyn resident, Cumbo is running for a seat to be vacated by Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Brooklyn. She joins an aide to former Gov. David Paterson, Khari Edwards, in officially announcing a bid in the 35th District.

James, who was first elected on the Working Families party line in 2003, is in the beginning stages of a citywide campaign for Public Advocate in 2013.

In a speech that spanned a variety of themes, Cumbo touted what she called her record as a job creator and educator at MoCADA, which started in a small space on Stuyvesant Avenue in 1999 and grew into an institution raising $1 million annually based in Fort Greene.

Addressing the violence plaguing parts of the neighborhood, Cumbo promised renewed outreach to get more people, especially those living in public housing, involved in the political process.

"While we enjoy our cafes, our tree-lined streets, there are people who have lagged behind," she said.

Cumbo also pledged to move on from the controversy that accompanied the planning, construction and opening of Barclays Arena.

"We have to deal with it," she said.

Published: Fort Greene Patch, October 12, 2012

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