This past Saturday, the 25th of January, Ridgewood Democratic Club held its Annual Membership Brunch meeting at their HQ. Found at 6070 Putnam Avenue, a block off Fresh Pond Road, the RDC building has been home to the club since 1917. My colleague Kevin Walsh presented a short history of the building in this Brownstoner Queens post from September of 2013.
NYS Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan is one of the two Democratic District Leaders in this part of Queens, along with Tom Bornemann, and she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of this building and club. She’s a lifelong Queensican, and lives with her son and husband in Ridgewood.
Catherine Nolan represents the 37th Assembly District in Queens County, which includes the historic New York City neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Long Island City, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria, Woodside, Maspeth, Dutch Kills and Blissville. She was first elected to the Assembly in 1984.
Mike Miller, also a member of the NYS Assembly, spoke to the group as well. RDC has an active membership, and each one of the elected officials who attended the brunch were presented with a laundry list of issues by the community. Mr. Miller also brought along his young son to the meeting, who was an adorable kid.
Michael G. Miller represents the 38th Assembly District in Queens County, which includes the neighborhoods of Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Glendale. He was elected in September of 2009 in the Special Election called by Governor Paterson.
Newly elected, Antonio Reynoso was in attendance. Mr. Reynoso ran in a hotly contested race during the last election cycle, and is one of the newest members of the NY City Council. He announced that he was asked to chair the City Council Sanitation Committee, and insisted that anyone having snow removal issues contact his office.
Antonio Reynoso was born and raised in the Los Sures section of Williamsburg to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republican. At a young age, Antonio’s parents instilled in him the importance of hard work, education, and community service. These lessons have undoubtedly influenced his core philosophy and remain with him today.
Antonio graduated from LeMoyne College with a bachelor’s degree in political science. As a Community Organizer for NYC A.C.O.R.N., Antonio led a comprehensive coalition to improve the professional lives of child-care providers by legitimizing the profession through Union incorporation.
For a frigid day in January, RDC really drew a crowd to its brunch meeting. Of course, in political circles, when food is being served – attendance is usually pretty good. There were danishes, a six-foot Italian hero, and enough coffee to float the Titanic.
The board of RDC and the elected officials posed for photos. Congressman Joe Crowley sent apologies for his absence, but Washington business trumped his plans to attend the meeting. He did send along a representative from his office, who handed out some campaign schwag, which included a coffee mug screen-printed with a portrait of the congressman and the words “Cup of Joe,” as well as tote-style shopping bags with his campaign logo.
Always a busy fellow, Jimmy Van Bramer arrived toward the end of the meeting. Mr. Van Bramer has recently been named NYC City Council Majority leader and has a long association with RDC.
A life long resident of Western Queens, Jimmy Van Bramer was elected to the New York City Council on November 3, 2009.
A community organizer, Jimmy Van Bramer is the son of two active union members. While growing up Jimmy sometimes followed his stepfather, a public-school custodian, to work. As he watched his stepfather polish classroom floors and scrub desks so that children and teachers could have a clean learning space, Jimmy learned the importance of hard work, and the powerful impact that seemingly small efforts can have on the lives of working people. Jimmy has carried those lessons throughout his life.
Also late to the party, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer arrived and offered remarks to the group.
Mr. Stringer was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1992, representing Manhattan’s Upper West Side for 13 years, and won election in 2006 as Manhattan Borough President. He was elected Comptroller on November 5, 2013.
RDC has an incredible collection of campaign materials adorning their walls, as you would expect from a century old organization. It’s a museum of NY City Democratic party politics, frankly, and it’s worth a visit just to see it.
Assemblywoman Nolan insists that I return at some point in the future to photograph the Club properly, including the offices upstairs which are held in a historic state of stasis. Who am I to say no to an elected official, especially when brunch is involved?
Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.