By George Joseph and Yoav Gonen, THE CITY
Edu Hermelyn quit his job with the city public assistance agency within weeks, after THE CITY asked about his political post alongside spouse Rodneyse Bichotte. He’s now running for election.
Mayor Eric Adams’ administration set a $190,000 salary at the city’s public assistance agency for the spouse of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party boss, personnel records obtained by THE CITY show.
Edu Hermelyn turned in his resignation papers on March 11 — just weeks after his Feb. 14 appointment as senior advisor for strategic initiatives, reporting directly to Department of Social Services Commissioner Gary Jenkins.
The resignation came just hours after THE CITY asked the mayor’s office about city government rules that bar most managerial employees from simultaneously holding top positions in political parties. Hermelyn is currently one of two Democratic Party district leaders in the Assembly district covering Crown Heights and Flatbush.
THE CITY obtained the personnel documents through a public records law request, after the Adams administration declined to disclose Hermelyn’s salary.
Hermelyn is married to Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, who also serves as chair of the Kings County Democratic Committee and is herself a district leader.
Months before their New Year’s Day 2021 wedding, the county Democratic committee appointed Hermelyn to fill a vacancy as a district leader — one of 42 in Brooklyn who determine party rules and vote on key endorsements of judges and political candidates.
Retaining a majority of support from district leaders, who are typically elected by voters, is essential for party officials to get their priorities enacted.
Shaquana Boykin, a Fort Greene and Clinton Hill district leader with the New Kings Democrats, a dissident party faction, said she was shocked to learn how much money Hermelyn was leaving on the table in order to keep his unpaid party position.
“It just feels like they are scared and trying to save every seat that they can,” said Boykin, referring to the party’s leadership.
In his resignation papers, Hermelyn stated he was leaving the job for “personal reasons.”
He did not respond to a request for comment from THE CITY, nor did spokespeople at the Department of Social Services and City Hall.
Hermelyn got the $190,000-a-year “executive assistant” job with the city’s anti-poverty agency after receiving more than $80,000 for “consulting” services from Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign.
Hermelyn will now have to run for election this June in order to retain his unpaid district leader post in the 43rd Assembly District. Another candidate, Akel Williams, is in the running.
‘It’s About Control’
Hermelyn’s resignation and run come as the party establishment moves to thwart a growing progressive faction within the borough’s Democrats, reformers charge.
A staffer in Bichotte’s Assembly office, Sabrina Rezzy, appears to be running for district leader miles from her Brooklyn Heights home, in a challenge to longtime Bay Ridge district leader Joanne Seminara.
And another city employee, Pinny Ringel, is running against another dissident, David Schwartz. Ringel went on leave from his position at the Administration for Children’s Services last month, a mayoral spokesperson said.
Seminara said she was purportedly being targeted by party officials for her independence, and for not going along with proposed rules changes that she considered to be undemocratic.
“It’s really an obvious move by County to choose a district leader for our district, which is backwards. It’s the people of our district who should choose their district leader,” Seminara told THE CITY. “People should pay attention and realize that it’s about control, and ask why.”
Thursday is the last day that district leader candidates can submit the signatures needed to get on the ballot. Board of Election records show that Hermelyn and Ringel submitted their petitions earlier this week.
Those who survive ballot challenges will face off against opponents in the June 28 election.
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