Over two dozen people gathered together for the first meeting of the Brooklyn Young Republicans (BYR) Club at Junior’s in Downtown Brooklyn over the weekend.
The club united old and new members on Sunday to discuss their 2018 agenda including their new educational initiative to bring awareness to local and state politics as well as their plans heading into midterm elections.
Club President Brandon Washington believes that the GOP’s greatest hurdle this year will be to focus on grassroots organizing and getting back in touch with local communities and residents.
“It’s not so much a Democratic issue as it is a Republican issue. Republicans are so out of touch. It’s not just a perception, it’s a fact. You know you have someone in the White House that is basically talking all this smack about Haiti and what not. And it’s crazy because a lot of people have this idea that Republicans are against them and that’s it’s full of old, rich, white men and that’s just not true,” said Washington.
Washington went on to note the true diversity of the more conservative political party, and its’ need to change the perception coming out of Washington, especially in the heavily dominated Democratic politics of the borough.
“A lot of these members come from so many different backgrounds–Blacks, Latinos, Whites, LGBT, Muslims–and they come from all these different walks of life and they are looking to initiate change on a grassroots level. And I really try to encourage them to engage with people on an everyday basis. You have to knock on the doors, work in the soup kitchens and walk into the projects and partner with these local churches and tell them, ‘hey we understand your plight and we get your issues,’” added Washington.
Currently, Brooklyn only has one Republican Congress member, Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island, Southern Brooklyn), who represents a diverse district spanning South Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Later in the meeting, club Treasurer Joshua Ferraiuolo went on to announce the organizations new initiative for 2018 focusing on education and empowerment of at-risk communities across the borough.
“One of the club’s missions for 2018 is setting up a program to teach people about who their elected officials are and what the process is for City Council, what a District Leader is, what do they do and how you can reach out to them and how do you make a difference as an individual,” said Ferraiuolo
The initiative will look to bring educational awareness to low-income neighborhoods through forums, a book drives and other local events. The club is hoping to teach Brooklynites about the different levels of state government, a point the group was sure to highlight over the course of the evening as many cited Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis’ (R-South Brooklyn, Staten Island) failed challenge to Mayor Bill de Blasio as an example of a lack of local political awareness.
New York Chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly Frank Gonzalez is hoping this year will be mark a turning point for the party. The party has the potential to unite Americans and bring society back to traditional family values, he said.
“We have to make our voices heard before it’s too late. We have a lot of work to do and we need to get our agenda out there. Hopefully we can unite as a people and as a party and start reaching out to communities. We all matter, as a people first, as Americans and as citizens. We will make New York great again,” said Gonzalez.