Brooklyn assemblywoman announces launch of borough president campaign

File photo/Brooklyn Paper

Brownstone Brooklyn Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon officially threw her hat in the ring as a candidate for Borough President on Thursday, making the case for herself to be the first woman to hold the office. 

“It’s time for a woman Borough President in Brooklyn. I will work with the community to bring us together and move us forward,” said Simon in a statement.

The third-term state legislator launched her campaign for beep outside of southern Brooklyn’s James Madison High School — paying an homage to the recently-deceased US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who graduated from the school in 1950.  

Simon used her announcement speech to connect her political aspirations to the late legal eagle, along with other trailblazing Brooklyn women like Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968.

“In honor of Justice Ginsburg, and Shirley Chisholm, and all the women who have gone before carving a path where once there was none, I am pulling my folding chair up to the table and running for Brooklyn Borough President,” the lawmaker said. “Women’s issues are economic issues, they are health issues, they are education issues, they are social and economic and environmental justice issues, they are LGBTQ+ issues. Being sidelined by the rubric ‘women’s issues’ won’t change unless we change it. It’s time for change.”

If she wins the Democratic nomination in June 2021, and the general election the following November, Simon would be the first female to hold the office, ending a run of 19 consecutive men who have occupied the seat at Borough Hall since the great City of Brooklyn was incorporated as one of just five boroughs in 1898.

The pol has served in Albany’s lower chamber since 2015, representing the 52nd Assembly District that spans Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, Vinegar Hill, and the Columbia Street Waterfront District.

Simon’s entry into the race makes her the latest among a handful of would-be beeps vying to succeed term-limited Eric Adams as the borough’s chief executive. Term-limited Council members Robert Cornegy of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Antonio Reynoso of Bushwick, and Mathieu Eugene of Flatbush have all also announced their intention to campaign for the post.

The city’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, has been long-rumored as a potential candidate, although she has yet to make any definitive decelerations. 

Simon would occupy a more progressive lane of the race, along with Reynoso, who has already garnered endorsements from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and state Senator Julia Salazar, according to a Kings County Politics report.

The assemblywoman’s past and current activism, which has focused largely on criticism of major development projects in the borough, could shape her plans for the office — which grants borough presidents the power to dole out advisory recommendations on land use proposals and appointing community board members.

In and out of public office, the politico has worked on issues like the 2004 Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, the Atlantic Yards project, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway repairs, and most recently, the Gowanus neighborhood rezoning.

In the state’s capitol, Simon has focused her political life on issues like gender equity, campaign finance reform, gun violence prevention, and education.

She chairs the Assembly’s committee on ethics and guidance and co-chairs its legislative ethics commission.

The pol previously represented that area as District Leader starting in 2004, and she ran for the local Council seat in 2009.

Simon, a former teacher of the deaf, a sign language interpreter and worked as a disability rights attorney. She lives with her husband Bill Harvis in Boerum Hill.

This story first appeared on our sister publication brooklynpaper.com.