Nikki Lucas Brings Fresh Ideas & Openess To 60th Assembly District


Love him or not, Assemblyman Charles Barron, and to a lesser degree his wife, City Councilwoman Inez Barron, have long held a political stronghold on East New York characterized by passionate support of their African-American constituents and their plight with rhetoric and discourse that has often left many white, black and Jewish residents in the city and the district feeling vilified.

All that is beginning to change, however, with the recent election of Nikki Lucas as the female Democratic District Leader of the 60th Assembly District. Lucas defeated the Barron’s hand picked district leader Joy Simmons, who formerly worked for Charles Barron when he was the city councilman, and who currently works in City Councilwoman Inez Barron’s office.

Lucas has lived in East New York’s Starrett City (also known as Spring Creek Towers) since 1978 when she moved there with her parents. The complex, which is the largest federally subsidized housing  complex in the nation , housing over 5,000 families in 46 buildings, also is a model of socio-economic diversity with about an equal amount of whites (mainly Russian and Polish Jews) and blacks (African-Americans, Caribbean-Americans and Africans), along with a sizable Hispanic and growing Asian population.

Nikki Lucas
Nikki Lucas

“My parents have always been civically engaged, and they always emphasized to my sisters and I to get involved with the community,” said Lucas, who founded and is the president of the three-year-old People First Democratic Club, which has grown from 12 original members to over 100 active members.

Lucas said a good part of the thinking in organizing the club wasn’t so much to run for political office, but to give voice to the community and many of the residents on issues such as transportation, jobs, housing and sanitation.

Since forming the club a steady stream of elected officials including Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Public Advocate Letitia James, Borough President Eric Adams, and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer have spoken at the club. Lucas has also succeeded to get heads of several city agencies to come to meetings to address local resident concerns.

There was an enormous need in the community to focus on advocacy and lobbying for legislation as well as to address community concerns that were never met,” said Lucas. “A number of different people [officials] were never introduced to the community. They didn’t feel welcomed and were pushed away and didn’t want to be humiliated when coming into the community.”

Without specifying that Barron’s divisive politics might have been in play as a root cause of this, Lucas said there was a real need to reach out to these officials to get things done.

“I cannot speak to Mr. Barron’s ways or policies. My emphasis has always been on building relationships with a common goal to see a improved community and great quality of life. My approach is different. I want to work with folks across the board, not targeting one group of people over another,” she said.

With this in mind, Lucas found the third time a charm in winning the recent primary after unsuccessfully running first for the district leader, and in 2013, as one of several candidates for the open city council seat in 2013.

It was a seat that Inez Barron, the former Assemblywoman form the 60th District won in succeeding her term-limited husband. Charles Barron then succeeded his wife in the assembly seat.

Lucas, who used to own a music store in the district, and now is a self-employed consultant in the medical field, is a single mother with an 11-year-old daughter. She attributes her successful run for the unpaid district leadership position to God and a strong and dedicated group of people that wanted to see change in the community.

As for her future political plans, Lucas said her goal for now is to just be the a great district leader advocating for the concerns of the district.