Long-time Brooklyn state Senator Montgomery declines 2020 run, gives nod to rising star

New York’s longest serving African-American woman in the state legislature, Velmanette Montgomery, announced her retirement on Saturday Jan. 11, 2020. ( Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

Brooklyn state Senator Velmanette Montgomery sought to pass the torch Saturday to one of her colleagues in government while announcing that she would not run for re-election this year.

The longest serving African-American woman in the New York state legislature, Montgomery publicly endorsed Assemblymember Tremaine Wright to succeed her in the 25th State Senate District seat, which covers the northern Brooklyn areas of Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus and Park Slope.

The neighborhoods that make up the 25th district might very well change though, when political districts across the state are realigned in 2022, based on the 2020 Census results.

Montgomery, who has been in the State Senate since 1985, said it is critical for her to ensure that the district had a representative familiar with the district’s constituents and their needs — and that she believes Wright is the perfect fit for that role.

“My consideration to leave this post was indeed with great concern that the work we have all put into building this district over the decades be preserved,” said Montgomery during her announcement Jan. 11 in the basement of the Transit Workers Union Local 100 headquarters. “I’m hopeful that we will be able to replace my presence with someone who will do us equally proud, and that someone is Tremaine Wright.”

Wright, who represents the 56th Assembly District covering central Brooklyn, won the seat in 2016. She now joins two other candidates in the race to succeed Montgomery: former staffer and life-long district resident Jason Salmon and Democratic Socialists of America-backed middle school teacher Jabari Brisport. 

“We have to look at the whole, and what the most broad effect of the legislation that we pass is going to have on our people,” said Wright. “And this is the training I have been getting over the last three years in the Assembly. “

During her long tenure in the state Senate, Montgomery backed a slew of legislation geared toward criminal justice reform and helping children and families. She supported bills allowing for adopted children access to their birth certificates at age 18; granting bereavement leave to same sex couples; and  ending the practice of 16- and 17-year-olds being tried as adults in New York courts.