County Committee Reform

In September 2018, New Kings Democrats joined with several other reform-minded political organizations to create a coalition of organizations committed to reforming County Committee. This group believes that there should be an open election for candidates for the 13 County Officer positions of the Kings County Democratic Committee (KCDC), and that the officers should embody a vision of inclusivity and transparency in the functioning of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

Sections

  1. The September 27 Meeting: Proxies, meeting attendance & how to support the coalition
  2. KCDC's Leadership: County committee 101
  3. Assembly District Committee: Organizing in KCDC in your neighborhood
  4. Our History: New Kings Democrats & KCDC reform

Looking for the coalition's reform candidates? Check them out here.


  1. Please fill out the proxy from the coalition! Here’s how to fill it out:

    If you are a KCDC member and attend the September 27 meeting -- and we hope you will -- we hope that you will support the efforts of our coalition. If you are unable to attend, and would like to support the coalition’s reform candidates, you may return the postage-paid, pre-addressed proxy card that you received in the mail.

    In the space in which you may designate someone as your proxy, please name one of the following individuals. They will support the candidates at the meeting:

    - Murad Awawdeh, President of Yalla, former President of Muslim Democratic Club of New York (MDCNY)
    - Brandon West, President, New Kings Democrats
    - Claudia Galicia, President, Sunset Park Latino Democrats
    - Jorge Muniz, President, Southwest Brooklyn Progressive Democrats
    - Hassan Bakriddin, President, Ernest Skinner Political Association
    - John Guzek, President, North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats

    Sign your name in the “Signature” line, print your name legibly so we may track your proxy card, and please write in your address. After your address, please print your Assembly District and Election District number if you know them. Add the date at the bottom.

    On the other side of the card, add your address to the return address section of the card, and drop it in the mail. The postage is paid.

    We received an update on September 21 from the Party about proxies for the September 27 County Committee Meeting. They indicate they will only accept "original" proxies - meaning we need a hard copy of your proxy with your signature in ink. We cannot accept photocopies/scans by email. Please mail your proxy to 415 Bergen St #3 Brooklyn, NY 11217. Postmark them no later than the morning of Monday, September 24. Alternatively, we will release several in-person drop off locations shortly, so you can deliver your proxy by hand earlier in the week. We apologize for this misinformation and are working to resolve the issue.

    Want to drop your proxy off in person, or time is running out? Drop off your signed proxies to the following locations:

    Wednesday, 9/26 from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM: 116 Saint Felix St. Brooklyn, NY 11217 (former NKD President Andrew Sloat has put out a New Kings Democrats box to collect proxies at the security desk as you walk in)

    Thursday, 9/27 from 6:30 AM to 12 PM: 216 7th Street Brooklyn, NY 11215 (VP of Organizing Angela LaScala-Gruenewald will be there to pick up your proxy)


  2. Learn how leadership actually works in the Kings County Democratic Committee (KCDC):

    The following section is a brief explanation of how leadership works in the Brooklyn Democratic Party. It is based on the Party’s bylaws and supplemented with information provided by people who have been around the Party for some time.

    The general membership of the Kings County Democratic Committee (KCDC) is comprised of people who ran or were appointed to represent their Election District (there are approximately 5,000 seats in total, though only approximately 2,200 will be filled in the 2018-2010 Committee) and the District Leaders. There are two District Leaders per Assembly District; 42 in all across the 21 Assembly Districts in Brooklyn.

    The County Committee general membership elects from amongst itself 13 County Officers: one Chairperson, six Vice-Chairs, three Secretaries, two Treasurers, and one Sergeant-at-Arms. These officers are elected at the “organizational” KCDC meeting, which is the first meeting to occur after the biennial election -- in this year’s case, the meeting on September 27, 2018.

    The Chairperson presides over KCDC meetings (and the Vice-Chairs do so in the Chairperson’s absence). The Secretary keeps full minutes of the meeting and prepares a roll of members. The Assistant Secretaries help in that endeavour. The Treasurer and his or her assistant conduct the necessary treasury tasks. The Sergeant-at-Arms assists the Chairperson in preserving and maintaining order during meetings.

    In recent years, these officer positions have been considered honorary positions and have done little in terms of the duties given to them in the bylaws. Typically no one runs for these officer positions except for people chosen by Party leadership.

    KCDC Structure
    The second layer of leadership is comprised of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee, according to the bylaws, is comprised of the District Leaders and the 13 County Officers. In practice, however, only District Leaders are on the Executive Committee. The reason for this discrepancy stems from reform efforts in 2012. Back in 2012/2013, County Committee reformers sought to amend the County bylaws to strip these Officers of their voting rights on the Executive Committee. They sought this change because the “Party boss” (more on this later) at the time was packing these Officer positions with loyalists, thereby consolidating his power on the Executive Committee. In 2013, the new party boss, Frank Seddio, agreed with reformers to strip these Officers of their voting rights and the Officers have since ceased to vote on the Executive Committee. However, the rules change failed to be actually be codified in the County Rules, creating the discrepancy.

    What this convoluted history means in practice is that the Executive Committee is comprised of just the District Leaders. The District Leaders elect from amongst themselves a Chair, a Vice-Chair, and a Secretary. It’s the Chair of the Executive Committee that is referred to as the “Party boss”.

    Diagram of Executive Committee Leadership (According to the bylaws)

    The Executive Committee has the following powers:

    1. It makes judicial endorsements
    2. It makes candidate endorsements for other public officer positions or Party positions
    3. When the KCDC is “not in session,” the Executive Committee can do anything other than the powers specifically given to the County General Membership in the bylaws.

    Questions? Feel free to email policy@newkingsdemocrats.com!

  3. Familiarize yourself with Assembly District Committees -- standing sub-committees of the KCDC

    The full KCDC meets only twice a year. As such, the Party’s work primarily occurs at the level of the Executive Committee, comprised of the District Leaders and led by the the Executive Committee Chair (currently Frank Seddio), who must also be a District Leader. According to the Kings County Democratic Party bylaws, the Executive Committee meets monthly.

    The Party’s bylaws require the creation of Assembly District Committees (ADCs) within each Assembly District to enable county committee members to stay in regular contact with their District Leaders.

    In an ADC, CC members can:
  • Vote on appointed KCDC members to fill vacant KCDC seats in your district

    If your ADC is formed before the first KCDC meeting (Sept. 27), the KCDC members of your Assembly District vote by majority on a list of names to fill vacant seats. If your ADC isn’t formed, the list is nominated by 5 members of the AD (usually the District Leaders + 3).

  • Discuss impending Executive Committee decisions with your District Leaders

    If your ADC exists, and 1/4 of the KCDC members within your district sign a petition for an ADC meeting, the ADC Chair must hold that meeting within 20 days of receiving the petition.

    You can only petition for one issue per meeting, but there is no limit on the number of petitions. That means KCDC members can discuss anything, from special elections to judicial nominations to work in the Rules Committee.
  • Hear about your District Leaders’ work in the State Committee.

    Your District Leaders are also your representatives on the Democratic Party State Committee.

    Reportedly, there hasn’t been an Assembly District Committee in over 50 years, but their formation and organizing principles are clearly stated in the CC Rules.

    Logistics of forming an ADC:
  • Only your District Leaders or the Executive Committee Chair can call the first meeting of your ADC – the organizing meeting.
  • Your District Leaders must jointly call the organizing meeting and designate the time and place.
  • If your District Leaders do not call the meeting, the Executive Committee Chair shall will call it and designate the person who will preside over it until an ADC Chairperson is elected.
  • The ADC organizing meeting must take place before or within 30 days after the organizing KCDC meeting (Sept. 27).
  • Notification of any ADC meeting, with time and place, must be mailed to members at least 5 days before the meeting.

    Logistics of the first ADC meeting – the organizing meeting:
  • All ADC meetings must have a quorum: 1/3 of the KCDC members of that district, in person or by proxy.
  • At the organizing meeting, the ADC must establish their rules (subject to the Rules of the KCDC). Note: Your ADC rules can abolish, limit, or restrict the use of proxies.
  • At the organizing meeting, these positions must be elected: Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, and any other positions the ADC chooses to add in their rules.

    Ongoing Logistics:
  • The ADC must meet a minimum of twice a year, including the organizing meeting.
  • If 1/4 of the ADC members petition for a meeting, the Chairperson must call that meeting within 10 days of receiving the petition. The meeting itself must take place between 5 and 10 days after that call.
  • If a meeting is adjourned, members must be notified by mail at least 2 days prior to the meeting date.
  • The ADC must have a headquarters at all times. (What this is isn’t specified, so it could be a living room.)
  • Votes are by majority.
  • The ADC must have at least 6 subcommittees: Rules and Resolutions, Public Affairs and Legislation, Community Services, Inter-Group Relations, Committee on Public Meetings, Committee on Public Relations. They function like the same committees specified for CC. (Each committee reports at each regular ADC meeting.)
  • The ADC can establish any other subcommittee it wants, and can set quorums for each.

    Excerpt about ADCs from the KCDC Rules

    ARTICLE VII
    The Assembly District Committees
  • There is hereby established in each Assembly District an Assembly District Committee which shall be a standing committee of the County Committee.
  • Each Assembly District Committee shall have the general care and supervision of the affairs of the Democratic Party within such district, under the direction and cooperation with the County Committee, and shall have the charge of the campaign within its district. Each Assembly District Committee shall at all times maintain a headquarters.
  • Each Assembly District Committee shall meet and organize prior to or within 30 days after the organization meeting of the County Committee. It shall meet. at such time and place as shall be designated jointly by the members of ‘the State Committee from the Assembly District. In the event that no such joint notice of meeting is issued, the meeting shall be called by the Chairperson of the Executive Committee who shall also designate the person to call the meeting to order and preside thereat until the election of a Chairperson.
  • (A) Regular meetings of the Assembly District Committee shall be held, as the business of the Committee may require, at a time and place designated by the Chairperson. There shall be, however, not less than two regular meetings of the Committee each year, including the organization meeting.
  • (B) Notice of the time and place of all regular meetings of the Assembly District Committee must be sent by mail or telegram to each member at least five days before such meetings, and similar notice of all adjournments of such meetings must be sent at least two days prior to such adjourned meetings.
  • Special meetings of the Assembly District Committee may be called by the Chairperson thereof to be held at such time and place as he may designate. A special meeting must be called by the Chairperson within ten days after receipt by him/her of a petition signed by one-fourth of the whole number of the members of the County Committee to which the Assembly District is entitled. Special meetings shall be held not less than five nor more than ten days after such call. Notice of such meetings and adjournments thereof shall be given in the same manner as provided for regular meetings. The call for a special meeting used by the Chairperson on his/her own motion shall specify the items set forth in such petition. In either event, no other matter shall be considered at a special meeting. If the Chairperson is absent or he refuses to call a special meeting, such meeting shall be called jointly by the members of the Executive Committee from the Assembly District. In the event that no such joint notice of meeting is issued, the meeting shall be called by the Chairperson of the Executive Committee who shall also designate the person to call the meeting to order and preside thereat until the election of a Chairperson.
  • A quorum at all meetings of the Assembly District Committee for the purpose of transacting any business shall consist of one-third of the membership of said Committee present in person or by proxy. All action by the Assembly District Committee shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of votes cast. In the event a quorum is not present at any meeting, no action other than to adjourn said meeting may be taken.
  • Each Assembly District Committee shall have the power to establish rules for its conduct and activities subject to the Rules of the County Committee. Provided, however, that notwithstanding any provision in the Rules of the County Committee, each Assembly District Committee shall have the power to abolish, limit or otherwise restrict the use of proxies at meetings of the Assembly District Committee by rule duly passed to that effect.
  • Each Assembly district Committee shall elect a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and such other officers as the rules of such Committee provide. These officers shall perform the duties usually belonging to said officers and such other duties as may be assigned to them by the Assembly District Committee.
  • (A) Each Assembly District Committee shall have the following standing committees:
    • (1) Committee on Rules and Resolutions
    • (2) Committee on Public Affairs and Legislation
    • (3) Committee on Community Services
    • (4) Committee on Inter-Group Relations
    • (5) Committee on Public Meetings
    • (6) Committee on Public Relations
  • (B) The powers and duties of these standing committees shall be similar to those of the like standing committees of the Executive Committee as prescribed in Article VI of these Rules, except that the Chairpersons of these standing committees shall not be members of the Advisory Committee.
  • (C) All standing committees shall render regular reports to the Assembly District Committee at each regular meeting of the said committee. Said reports shall contain information regarding the activities of the committee and their recommendations for action regarding the subject matter under the jurisdiction of said committees.
  • Each Assembly District Committee shall have the power to appoint other standing committees as it may deem proper in the discharge of its duties, and may fix the quorum for all standing committees.
  • The Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the County Committee may, at any time after the organization meeting of the County Committee, appoint special committees of three members of the Executive Committee to organize an Assembly District Committee in any Assembly District which has failed to organize.

NKD’s History of County Committee Reform

On September 21, 2016, New Kings Democrats joined with fellow Brooklyn reform clubs to propose a series of common sense reforms to the Kings County Committee operations. A mailing was sent to all County Committee members, outlining the reforms, which were endorsed by NKD, Prospect Heights Democrats for Reform, Southern Brooklyn Democrats, and Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats. These reforms built on the County Committee platform developed earlier that year in NKD's Policy Committee. The reforms were not addressed at the January 2017 meeting of the KCDC, but were referred to a small committee selected by Party boss Frank Seddio (with nominal reform club representation) for consideration.

NKD and our allies worked hard to pressure all stakeholders to support these common-sense reforms, and at the July 2017 meeting of the KCDC, we learned that we had succeeded in achieving reforms, though with some dilutions. Once again, we showed the power of persistent organizing toward making our Brooklyn Democratic Party more transparent and accountable.

Despite this success, the need for further reform was highlighted just weeks later when Party boss Frank Seddio selected the candidate for an open state Senate seat in a thoroughly undemocratic process that ignored the will of voters and County Committee members. In advance of the January 2018 meeting of the County Committee, we proposed a common sense reform to require a vote of the KCDC for choosing a candidate to fill a vacant public office seat, in the event that a primary election is unfeasible. This proposal was developed by NKD's Policy Committee, and endorsed by our members. Stay tuned for updates, as we wait for the County Committee's Rules Committee to consider our proposal. In the meantime, get in touch with your District Leaders to express your support for this reform!

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