New Kings Democrats Seek Changing Of The Guard


It was out with the old and in with the new at last week’s New Kings Democrats (NKD) monthly general meeting held at the First Unitarian Congregation, 119 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights.

NKD is a grassroots political organization founded in 2008 committed to bringing transparency and accountability to the Kings County Democratic Party, and developing “a progressive Brooklyn alliance” that avoids insiderism and represents all of Brooklyn.

Anusha Venkataraman

The old is the recent announcement that NKD President Anusha Venkataraman is soon to step down after two years in that role to accept a new position with Mayor Bill De Blasio’s administration.

Venkataraman, who already works in the de Blasio Administration as an urban planner, declined to comment on her new position at the meeting, but in a message sent to NKD members on November 2 to announce the change, she said that she would continue to participate in the club.

“The past two years I’ve served as President, and my prior year on the Executive Committee as VP of Policy and Political Affairs, have been exciting, challenging, exhausting, and fortifying,” wrote Venkataraman. “Thank you for electing me to take this journey with you. I am not going anywhere, and will continue to be actively involved with the club in a non-leadership position.”

In the meantime, NKD Chief of Operations Sara Shoener, who also works in the de Blasio Administration,  will take over as interim president of the club. Shoener says that she will not be seeking election as president, but that elections are open to all members and will take place as a part of the club’s elections for the 2018 Executive Committee during the January General Meeting.

“I think that one of New Kings greatest values for the county is in making sure that we’re bringing up the next generation of political leaders,” said Shoener. “And that looks like making sure that we’re bringing as many people into the process as possible.”

In addition to leadership changes, Thursday night marked the beginning of a new NKD project meant to develop a consistent vision for the Kings County Democratic Party, rather than only focusing on rooting out problems in its process.

In this regard, members heard from Dave Algoso, the head of the NKD’s Vision Subcommittee Project, who outlined the club’s plans for research, outreach, and connection with residents, community groups, and fellow political organizations.

“A lot of what New Kings Democrats has done in the past is point out the ways that the Democratic Party in Brooklyn is running,” said Algoso. “The idea behind this is to try to create a process by which we end up with a mutually shared, positive vision for what the party should look like in Brooklyn, that is mutually shared not just by NKD, but by all the Democrats folks and groups across the city.”

Algoso discussed future research methods to understand the needs and voices of Democrats across Brooklyn, as well as the way those residents see the party itself. He said that this information could be distilled into a meaningful way to redirect the party, and addressed plans for a steering or advisory group meant to determine the direction of the Vision Project.

He gave members the opportunity to discuss plans and methods amongst themselves. Above all, members and leadership agreed that the club should attempt to make the party more accessible, and involve as many residents as possible. Leadership also discussed developing a “candidate pipeline,” in the attempt to pick and support potential local candidates earlier on in the process.

According to the NKD website, members wishing to run for NKD office must be in good standing for at least six months before an election. Each position’s term lasts one year. Each executive member explained the duties and responsibilities of their position and domain of work, in case members in the audience would be looking to run.

“Last time we did leadership change we were quite a bit smaller than we are now,” said Shoener. “So handing over the keys of that machine was a little bit easier. Thinking about what it’s going to be like to do a full-scale leadership transition, this time around, is probably going to take a little bit of easing in.”