Last week, the Vanguard Independent Democratic Club (VIDA) voted to endorse Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries for U.S. Congress, over Councilmember Charles Barron, D-East New York, and 30-year incumbent Edolphus "Ed" Towns.
VIDA’s endorsement of Jeffries has ruffled a few feathers and even caused some about-the-town rumbling, as for decades, the club routinely has endorsed Towns, not to mention that Towns has helped groom and served as a mentor for the club’s newly appointed president, Robert Cornegy Jr.
"Obviously after 30 years of having a relationship with the congressman, it was a difficult thing to do," Cornegy told Patch. "I didn’t vote, and as president, I don’t have to vote except in the case of a tie."
"It’s nothing personal, but I had to go with what the board and my community wanted, and I have to respect my community’s voice."
Cornegy said the Congressman certainly would have had a better chance had he met with the board and presented his case. But the congressman never showed up, citing scheduling conflicts, while Jeffries had presented to the club’s members on two occasions so far.
Patch reached out to Towns' office. The communications director was off for the day, and Towns was not available to comment.
Cornegy added that Jeffries’ success with the prison gerrymandering bill and his work against the Stop-and-Frisk law appealed to community members who have felt their voices were underrepresented in years past.
"Those are very high themes, and aggressive moves like that seemed to be indicative of someone who’s thinking deeply about the community’s needs," said Cornegy.
"I’ve been told, 'How dare you do A, B and C after all that Towns has done for you.' But we need to stop making the elected officials in our community into rocks stars. They’re public servants, and we need to keep that in mind."
Still, Cornegy admits, it was a very tough decision, especially for someone in his position.
"Because at the end of the day, the reality is, I still will have to have a relationship with whomever is chosen to make sure that they’re advocating for Bed-Stuy and the community’s needs in Washington."