Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright Remembers Political Icon, Basil Paterson

“Today I join all of Harlem, the state of New York and the nation, in mourning the passing of one of our proudest and most courageous icons, Basil Paterson. This profound loss is deeply felt by me, personally. I have met many men and women throughout my life, but very few have inspired me as greatly as he did on what it means to be an exceptional leader, public servant and dignitary. His legacy, cemented in greatness by a lifetime of defending those who society had denied a voice, will live eternal in the soul of Harlem and in the hearts of all those who were blessed to have known him.”

2014 New York City Civil Court Independent Screening Panel Report

On January 27th, 2014, the New York County Democratic Committee announced the formation of an Independent Screening Panel to report on candidates for the nomination of the Democratic Party for one (1) vacancy on the New York City Civil Court, 1st Judicial District (New York County), which will be filled in the November general election. The chief operating officer of numerous bar associations, community organizations and law schools designated the following members to the panel, which will be directed to report a total of no more than the three (3) most highly qualified candidates for the one (1) vacancy:

  • Andrea Kahn, Esq., New York Women’s Bar Association
  • Assistant Dean Victoria Eastus, New York Law School
  • Dawn Kelly, National Lawyers Guild
  • Eve Cho Guillergan, Esq., KALAGNY
  • Jonathan S. Damashek, Esq., New York State Trial Lawyers Association
  • Joseph French, Brehon Law Society
  • Lakeisha Spence, Association of Black Women Attorneys
  • Laura Russell, New York City Bar Association
  • Luwick Francois, Metropolitan Black Bar Association
  • Matthew Fernandez, Puerto Rican Bar Association
  • Mitchell Wong, Konigsberg Asian Americans for Equality
  • Nicole Arrindell, MFY Legal Services
  • Professor Degna Levister, The City University of New York School of Law
  • Steven Interrante, Esq., Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Susan Puder, Sanctuary for Families
  • William Wang, Asian American Bar Association of New York

‘A June primary is sensible’ – Written by Keith L.T Wright and Susan Lerner

In New York state, the primary election for state and local representatives is always held the second Tuesday of September, right after Labor Day and the start of the new school year. If you blink you could miss it, and many New Yorkers do.

In 2010, New York ranked last in the nation for voter turnout, with only 32 percent of the 13.4 million eligible voters actually exercising their constitutional right. New York City’s turnout last year hit a record low, with barely 22 percent of registered Democrats, and 12 percent of registered Republicans.

The situation is similar across the state. Take for example, Rochester, where the new mayor won by a margin of 5,000 votes, with only 23 percent voter turnout.

There are many reasons why people don’t make it to the polls, but there is something the state can do to make voting more convenient and cost effective: consolidate all primary elections into a single June date. It’s a simple solution to increase voter engagement and save the taxpayers money.

Currently, New Yorkers vote in as many as five elections a year: there are local elections for towns and villages in March, school board in May, federal elections in June, then again in September for state primaries, and finally in November for the general election.

Elections are expensive. It costs millions of dollars to keep the polls open, maintain the machines, and make sure every vote is counted. The bill can really add up in the event of a recount, which can drag on for weeks.

So why should New Yorkers continue to foot the bill? If we consolidate our elections into a single primary it would save the taxpayers an estimated $50 million.

A June primary would also increase public engagement by giving voters an immediate opportunity to hold their representatives accountable. The state legislative calendar runs from January to late June, at which point lawmakers return home to focus on matters in their districts.

By streamlining the primary date, legislative business would be fresh in voters’ minds, and there would be no confusion about when the election is being held. Not to mention it would give candidates a better opportunity to make their case to voters, who typically tune out during the summer months and only re-engage two weeks before the September primary.

There is another reason to move the primary to June. Members of the military serving overseas are currently disenfranchised from state elections by the short turnaround between the deadline for mailing in their ballots and Election Day. We don’t even give the women and men who keep us safe a voice in the democratic process. That has to change.

Voting should be accessible, easy and efficient. A single June primary is an important first step to counteract voter fatigue and kick the democratic process back into high gear.

Although opponents may argue that it’s not in the public interest for elected officials to campaign during the legislative session, the long and short-term benefits of a more transparent and user-friendly process is ultimately paramount.

What matters most is to empower every New Yorker to participate in good, open government, and participation begins at the polls.

Every New Yorker who is concerned about the waste of taxpayer dollars and who wants to ensure that they are fully exercising their right to vote should contact their state and local representatives to voice their support for a June primary.

*This Op-Ed, written by County Leader Keith L.T Wright and Susan Lerner, appeared on today, January 30th, 2014.  Susan Lerner is executive director of Common Cause NY. Keith L.T. Wright is a state assemblyman who represents Harlem and serves as the co-chair of the state Democratic Party.

Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension.
We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Democrats,

Today we commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As we look back on the tremendous gift Dr. King gave to America, we are reminded of a life not only filled with inspired words but also a life defined by formative actions. It is this legacy of action that has led America towards a brighter future.

I stand today with 32BJ SEIU and many of New York County’s finest Democrats to protest increasing low wages for airport workers. The Port Authority of NY and NJ has the power to impose minimum baseline wage and benefit standards that would lift airport workers out of poverty. Democrats everywhere say this can and should be done.

We must continue Dr. King’s legacy by fighting for equal justice for all. This means standing up for fair wages not just for some workers but for all workers. It means demanding affordable housing and access to basic human services not just for some New Yorkers but for all New Yorkers.

Join me in continuing Dr. King’s march towards justice. We celebrate his life and his legacy as we too take action to make America truly a country “with liberty and justice for all.”


Keith L.T. Wright
New York County Democratic Committee


New York County Democrats in Action at LaGuardia Airport on MLK Day 2014. In the photo (from left to right): NYC Councilman Ben Kallos, NYC Councilman Mark Levine, and County Leader Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez were also in attendance at the event.

2014 Civil Court Independent Screening Panel

The New York County Democratic Committee has announced the formation
of an Independent Screening Panel to report on candidates for nomination by the Democratic Party for one (1) New York County-wide Civil Court vacancy, which will be filled in the November general election. The heads of numerous bar associations, community’s organizations and law schools have been invited to nominate members of the panel, which will be directed to report a total of no more than the three most highly qualified candidates for the Civil Court vacancy.

Candidates for the Courts may obtain applications, via mail, from the Judiciary Committee of the New York County Democratic Committee, 108 W. 39th Street, New York NY 10018 or by email: Questions concerning this year’s panel should be directed to Ms. Cathleen McCadden, the Interim Executive Director of the New York County Democratic Committee office at (212) 687-6540.  The applications should be submitted no sooner and no later than January 27th, 2014 between the hours of 8am and 2pm.

Congrats to OUR New Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito!

I am pleased to congratulate my friend and local colleague, the new Speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, on her historic win today. New York County has once again proven that it is at the forefront in cultivating dynamic leaders that bridge communities across the entire city.

I am sure that Speaker Mark-Viverito will lead the City Council in an independent and fearless way. Her stewardship will reflect the principles of fairness and reform that are the hallmark of New York County. Our new Speaker will undoubtedly face many challenges, but her ability to make decisions based upon a total landscape and to push past special and singular interests will be of collective benefit to us all.

I would also like to commend Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who was an exemplary statesman in his withdrawal from consideration. I could not be more proud of New York County’s legislators than I am today. They have shown the entire city that New York County is willing and able to continue carrying the mantle of progressive leadership in the greatest city in this nation.

Keith L.T. Wright
Chairman, New York County Democratic Committee


PLEASE JOIN US for January 15, 2014 Cocktail Reception

County Leader Keith L. T. Wright invites you to a Cocktail Reception and Superbowl Kickoff!

You & the Manhattan Democratic Party

A community event and great excuse to start of the year celebrating with fellow Democrats!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
From 6PM to 8PM

W Hotel Union Square
201 Park Avenue South
New York, New York


Letter to Mr. Joseph Lhota

October 25th, 2013

Mr. Joseph Lhota
Joe Lhota for Mayor
51 East 42nd Street
Suite 1502
New York, NY 10017

Re: Commercial Attacking de Blasio’s record on crime

Dear Mr. Lhota,

As an organization dedicated to enhancing the democratic process, the Executive Committee of the New York County Democratic Committee would like to express its displeasure with your most recent commercial and refute the claims made therein. Our mission is to help elect candidates who share our progressive views and ideals, but we also strive to increase the electorate. Every political season, the District Leaders in New York County talk to eligible voters and many are apathetic and turned off by the dirty tactics candidates use to disparage their opponents. In a City of more than eight million people, it is rather telling that only seven hundred thousand New Yorkers cast a ballot in this year’s Primary Election.  The next Mayor will face incredible challenges and the voters deserve a vigorous debate on the City’s most pressing issues.

Instead, this commercial distorts Mr. de Blasio’s positions on crime and it preys on people’s darkest fears and prejudices. It is very reminiscent of the Willie Horton ad used by the George Bush campaign during the 1988 Presidential Election. The images chosen elicit memories of a tense and difficult time in the City’s history but as you know, New York is the safest big city in the world. We’ve come a long way but there are still inequities in our approach to policing and Mr. de Blasio cannot ignore the impact “Stop, Question, and Frisk” has on communities of color. It is indeed possible to protect and preserve personal liberties while keeping the City safe.

You have a formidable professional resume and a strong base of support in the City’s Republican Party. It is unwise and unnecessary for you to resort to tactics used by your counterparts in Washington. I ask that you cease running the ad and issue an apology for the offensive images and conclusions expressed in the commercial. The New York County Democratic Committee supports Democrats exclusively but we are dedicated to expanding the electorate and making sure all New Yorkers have a voice in the political process. Commercials like yours do not help this cause and actually exacerbate voter apathy.


Keith L.T. Wright
County Leader