Raising up all of our down-ballot offices


To the editor:

The right local leadership is integral to the success of a community.

The June 28 Democratic primary will give us an opportunity to advance new candidates for female and male district leader in the Assembly district currently represented by Jeffrey Dinowitz.

Most of us cannot rattle off the responsibilities of these unpaid, two-year terms, but the roles can greatly impact our representation. Traditionally, they include nominating new members for the county committee (helping to elect the chair), appointing poll workers, and selecting judicial nominees.

Together, all Bronx district leaders comprise the executive committee of the Democratic County Committee, and work to get more of their party’s nominees elected.

The interesting thing is that district leaders can exceed these important duties, bringing their imagination to bear on improvements to the fabric of our Assembly district.

Abigail Martin has a vision for further democratizing our district — focusing on registration to enhance voter turnout, inspiring voter participation through civic education, fine-tuning early voting and election day operations, and increasing transparency in party nominations and education board staffing.

District leader is a part-time role, and Martin’s concurrent success in other key ventures enhances the odds of her agility within it. She is a social worker, professor, and advisor. She is a community advocate, a co-op board president. She is a member of the P.S. 81 school leadership team as well as its diversity and inclusion committee, and parent association. She’s also on the steering committee for the Stewards of Brust Park.

Ramdat Singh’s focus would be on opportunities for our youth — ensuring adequate investments for local schools, expanded services for students with disabilities and English language learners, and career training opportunities. He would also work to bring disenfranchised voices into the Democratic Party, reversing current trends by working with local high schools.

A Bronx native and first-generation Indo-Caribbean, Singh teaches special education at Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy and at-risk youth in the Young Adult Borough Center program. He has testified at City Hall for educational investments, drafted educational policies for community schools and restorative justice practices, and launched voter education campaigns.

Through mutual aid work, Singh has addressed food insecurity and pandemic era safety head on, helping to organize food pantries and restock neighborhood fridges, as well as to distribute personal protective equipment.

He serves as chair of the Community Board 8 parks and recreation committee, and is a member of both the libraries and cultural affairs committee and the Special Committee on Racial Equity.

Impressive candidates themselves, Martin and Singh have formed a slate with state committee member candidates Morgan Evers and Aaron Stayman — committed community leaders all.   

In an era in which women in our state have served as governor, district attorney, and senator, the mandate advocated by Eleanor Roosevelt and the New York League of Women Voters of a female and a male district leader to ensure female inclusion in government may now seem antiquated.

But Abigail Martin and Ramdat Singh would together use the opportunity to fortify opportunities for our youth and enhance civic participation — vital democratic aims for any generation.

Let’s treat ourselves to that level of progress. 

Jennifer Firestone