Last week, Emile Bazille, a south Williamsburg native, was appointed to fill the vacant position of male district leader in the 50th Assembly District.
The appointment was made by district leader-elect Kristina Naplatarski, who defeated longtime incumbent Linda Minucci in the Democratic primary earlier this year.
“As a lifelong resident of Southside Williamsburg with a strong track record of public service, Bazile has a deep understanding of the 50th Assembly District and is committed to serving the needs of its diverse constituencies,” Naplatarski said in a statement. “Together, we will work to address the challenges that face the 50th AD while pushing for a Brooklyn Democratic Party that is more transparent, accountable and truly effective for the borough’s residents.”
The position was vacated by Nick Rizzo, who served as district leader since 2014. According to reports, Rizzo’s petition signatures for re-election were challenged, leaving him short of the required amount to appear on the ballot, despite not facing an opponent in the race.
Rizzo later claimed in a newspaper column in August that Naplatarski did not appoint him to the post because he had supported her opponent, Minucci, in the race.
After hosting a community input process, Naplatarski appointed Bazile, a son of Haitian immigrants who grew up in the Berry South Ninth Street Houses. After graduating from Niagara University, he worked for Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who himself was defeated by Greenpoint activist Emily Gallagher.
Gallagher ran against Minucci for district leader in 2016, but lost.
In a statement, Bazile said he is committed to expanding the traditional role of district leader, an unpaid party position, beyond its formal duties.
“I envision working with my co-leader as a community advocate, drawing attention to issues affecting the district such as housing affordability, environmental justice and insufficient infrastructure to accommodate our district’s unprecedented growth,” he said. “I also want to focus on conducting outreach to underrepresented portions of the district to ensure that voices who are often marginalized are heard and served.”
Local elected officials representing the area praised Bazile’s history-making selection. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said in a statement that the new district leader understands the needs of the district’s most vulnerable residents, and will elevate their concerns.
“Emile has already shown that he will be a fighter for this district and for reforms in the Brooklyn Democratic Party,” she said.
Councilman Antonio Reynoso, for whom Naplatarski works as a staffer, said Bazile has a track record of public service and a commitment to reform.
“At a time when we are finally having serious discussions about systemic racism in our country and city, the appointment of a Black man sends a strong signal that this district will be taking its lead from those most impacted by these issues,” he said.
Both Naplatarski and Bazile are expected to be sworn in at the next meeting of the Brooklyn Democratic Party later this fall.
“I look forward to building a relationship with our new district leaders in the 50th Assembly District,” said Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, “while serving the people of Brooklyn side by side.”