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Laurie Cumbo Officially Announces Run For Tish James' Seat

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

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.

Brooklyn Sandy October 12, 2012 at 12:10 PM
One more amplified abuse of this "public plaza" paid for by citizens who were forced to listen in our adjacent homes to religious representatives in contravention of the Constitutional separation of church and state. It is not only unconstitutional for a publicly subsidized space to be used by Ms Cumbo in her self-serving ambition by inflicting prayers upon nonbelievers or those who believe in other gods, it is boorish.
sheryl davis cornick October 12, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Who forced you to listen in the privacy of your home???? If the prayers did not meet your liking you have the freedom to ignore it, I myself am not affliated with any of the mentioned groups that participataed in prayer but it was a great opportunity to discuss different belief systems and diversity of spirits with my children. Bravo Ms. Cumbo for you efforts in showing your commitment to diversity and unity.
Brooklyn Sandy October 12, 2012 at 01:56 PM
The loud amplification of these prayers in a public space pervaded residents' homes...that's a fact. "Ignoring it" was not an option.My legal freedom to ignore it is enshrined in the Constitution which protects me from public paid-for spaces used to impose selected religious beliefs on others who may have differing beliefs... Commitment to diversity and unity are lovely goals...but commitment to respect of everyone's private spiritual sensibilities demands equal adherence.
Joe Gonzalez October 12, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Did Laurie Cumbo have a NYPD issued sound permit for the event? Such an application & the resultant permit are a public record & can be obtained via Freedom Of Information Law (FOIL). Maybe Ms. Cumbo ought to publicly answer this question AND if she had a lawful sound permit, she could place a copy of it on her website. Maybe Patch.com could even to some investigative reporting. Now that Ms. Cumbo is officially a candidate for the NYC City Council, its time we the people get some specific answers from Ms. Cumbo as to where she stands on the various matters of public policy. Ms. Cumbo has been very cozy with BAM & its related organs, so it will be interesting to see if & when she will confront BAM on some of BAM's excesses that have had a severely negative impact on Green Hill. I insist Ms. Cumbo, who claims to be concerned about poor folks, take a position on the BAM inspired closure of the decades old Salvation Army Social Service Center formerly located at 321 Ashland Place. City Council Member Tish James, who wants to be the NYC Public Advocate, helped BAM raise $54 million dollars last year to turn that once two story Center into a six story "Arts and Culture Center". That resulted in a social service center being displaced. I was present at the campaign announcement yesterday, as was Fort Green's Mayor Ed Brown. I was grateful Ms. Cumbo mentioned her interest in improving local NYCHA housing projects which are home to some 10,000 people.
KHayek October 12, 2012 at 08:43 PM
As an artist living in a community in the heart of a "cultural district", seeing my artist friends and neighbors leaving in droves from lack of affordable housing and work space, I'm proud to finally see a cultural leader step into the role of political leader and especially right here, locally. I appreciated her nudge to all of us to not sit back and let our leaders do all the work of building community, to be engaged in building it ourselves--by voting, and working with our local non-profits and generally, just watching out for our neighbors. I was also encouraged by her upbeat, "if I can see it, I can make it happen", attitude. Laurie has proven that she has vision and can actualize that vision into amazing programs for our community. I'm thrilled that she has offered her bold and creative leadership skills in service to us, all of us, together, in the 35th district. Not to mention that SPEECH! oh, my goodness, this woman can bring it! And has anyone checked out her PLATFORM? She's given herself (all of us) a long list of things to do! She has it posted on her website: www.lauriecumbo2013.com
Reynolds October 12, 2012 at 08:44 PM
She may pray publicly but I want a Council person who protects private decisions, as Tish did, and I know she is that person. And if you are a person who protects the private decisions of women, you better get used to some pretty loud praying! Because last time I heard it, the praying outside a Council meeting almost drowned out the proceedings. So I want a Council person who will stand up for my rights,as the people who would take them away always have that bullhorn permit. I welcome Ms Cumbo filling Tish's shoes.
Cassandra Alston Townsley October 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM
To BS & JG, "Get A Life!" Congrats Laurie! You've done a Great job @ MoCADA, you'll do Great for the 35th Dist!
park place October 14, 2012 at 01:59 AM
i don't know anything about laurie specifically, but she does have some pretty big shoes to fill. tish james and her office are consistently impressive with their diligence, competence, and responsiveness to cm james's constituents. i don't always agree with tish, but you absolutely cannot argue with her passion and integrity. that said, a note to advisors of ms. cumbo: her verbiage regarding visualization is strange and off-putting...is she an adherent of "the secret"? beyond that, despite that she claims to want to unify, i detect a little bit of pandering in her simultaneously urging that we "deal with" barclays but that we continue to worry about those who have been left behind by the "tree-lined streets." Who's been left behind by tree-lined streets? There's a hint of blame there, a hint of the policitally lazy in pointing to gentrification as the root of all the problems that those in the district who are suffering may face. if she really wants to unify, she needs to find the common ground, not simply wordsmith her way around the real issues.
Coecoenuts October 14, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Close your window !!
Coecoenuts October 14, 2012 at 05:08 AM
As a "veteran" on the use of public and private spaces, it is a waste of one's intellect to question a sound permit of Ms. Cumbo. In the same vein as the challenge of Pres. B. Obama's birth certificate....Stop wasting time and let's get to the issues.
Mann Publicis October 15, 2012 at 07:42 AM
Some people just don't get it Sandy so you might as well not give substance to their ignorance by responding. I can't visualize Mitt Romney being elected President but there seem to be a lot of similarly handicapped voters who might indeed put him in office. This sadly points to the nation's poor delivery on popular education. Scary!
Pamella Allen October 17, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Yes, Tish James has left big shoes to fill, she was a passionate advocate for the people of her district and Laurie Cumbo has just what it takes to fill them. The mark of a great public servant is not only the ability to communicate but the ability to listen to the needs of the people they are serving, now is the time for the community to come with constructive questions and concerns and Laurie is ready to listen. The point at the beginning of this campaign (and throughout) is to address the needs of the community and to have substantive, constructive discourse about solutions, it is an unnecessary distraction to parse verbiage and permits. We've got bigger fish to fry..education, jobs, housing to name a few.
KayToure October 19, 2012 at 09:19 PM
KayToure, Yes the afterschool programs that Laurie has sprouted and spear-headed, the objective for graduates to leave high school with a driver's licence and a passport, affordable housing for those "displaced" artists that need housing advocacy, strengthening our economy and stimulating employment in our city- these are the areas that Laurie is addressing in her campaign. The slogan, "We are all in this together," is not alway easy to accomplish but it is at the forefront of Laurie Cumbo's thinking. Laurie has charged each and every one of us to pick an area in our lives and the lives of others, that needs addressing and come to her with what WE want to do and she will assist with all of her might. Since WE elect our officials, we need to be responsible for the change we want to see or else the change will happen to US instead of US creating change for the good of all.

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