Desired skill for the next Brooklyn chair: wrangling Council freshmen

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A fight to replace Assemblyman Vito Lopez as chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic organization could affect a handful of local races. It also has implications for the contest to succeed Christine Quinn as City Council speaker, and for the near-term future of the entire Brooklyn Council delegation.

The contestants to succeed Lopez at the moment seem to be Assemblyman Frank Seddio and Assemblyman Karim Camara.

Whoever becomes the next leader will have a unique challenge: 7 of the 16 City Council seats in Brooklyn will be vacated because of term limits, a higher number than in any other borough.

As consultant Harry Giannoulis put it, "What happens to Brooklyn is a question mark not because of the change in county leader but because of the vacancies." 

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The new chairman will have find a way to “corral all those new people, those new elected officials” and “get them to vote as a bloc. That is probably the first and major obstacle the county leader has to deal with.”

Voting as a bloc could help those junior council members, and their more senior Brooklyn colleagues, secure favorable committee chairmanships, committee assignments, staff allocations and other benefits.

The seven term-limited councilmembers from Brooklyn are Diana Reyna, Al Vann, Erik Dilan, Charles Barron, Lew Fidler, Domenic Recchia and Mike Nelson. The number of Brooklyn vacancies may end up being higher than seven, with Letitia James preparing to run for public advocate and Brad Lander possibly running for borough president.

The other boroughs have far fewer term-limited vacancies to deal with: Queens and the Bronx will each have four, Manhattan will have three, and Staten Island will have one.