It was changing of the young guard night at the Thomas Jefferson Democrats Club, 77 Conklin Avenue in Canarsie last Tuesday as Mitchell Partnow, the 13-year president of the Thomas Jefferson Young Democrats, handed the mantle over to 22-year-old Steven Patzer.
Partnow — the son of District Leader Sue Ann Partnow — noted how his father, Kings County Supreme Court Justice Mark Partnow, founded the TJ Young Dems 46 years ago, and it was where his parents met as teenagers.
“I started with the TJ Young Dems 13 years ago while I was a sophomore in [St. John’s] College. I wanted to help young people get involved in the political process and help mold them into future leaders and community activists. We went from working on local races to citywide races, delivering food to home bound people and seniors on Christmas morning, collecting canned food on Thanksgiving and attending Conventions all over New York State,” recalled Mitchell.
” One my proudest moments as president was when I was elected as one of the youngest delegates to the Democratic National Convention and helped Barack Obama become the Democratic Nominee,” he added.
Mitchell said after the birth of his daughter a year ago, he had a discussion with his wife, Miri, and they figured it was a good time to patch the torch. As such, Patzer immediately came to mind as he had already done great work in recruiting ambitious and hardworking young people.
Patzer, who lives on the Mill Basin/Georgetown border, said he first became involved in politics as a student at Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach and where he started as the school’s student government president.
“I remember watching the West Wing as part of the curriculum for a political science class I was taking,” recalled Patzer. “Then I went home and bought the book, ‘Politics For Dummies’, which told me about the political structures. Then I found out that Alan Maisel (now the city councilman) was the local state assemblymember and I invited him to speak at Kingsborough.”
After the lecture, Maisel, a former school teacher, drove Patzer to a TJ Club Meeting and he started his involvement in both local politics and the club. Patzer went on to graduate from CUNY’s Baruch College with a degree in public affairs, and now works as the assistant to the East Coast Director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Manhattan.
Patzer said while the TJ Club is more old school, he has met with the membership from the so-called “progressive’ youth Democratic clubs, most notable the Brooklyn Young Democrats and the New Kings Democrats.
“I’m hoping to bridge the gap between those pushing for change, adapting new technology and understanding the experiences of the old guard and being able to fuse them all together,” said Patzer.
The meeting, which drew over 200 people, saw another changing of the guard as longtime Community Board 18 Chair Sol Needle stepped down after 20 years and passed the gavel to Gardy Brazela.
Brazela, who immigrated with his family to Brooklyn from Haiti when he was 12, is CB18’s first Caribbean-American and black chairman. He is also the president of the 69th Precinct Community Council in Canarsie and the founder of the Friends United Block Civic Association.
Among the Brooklyn notables at the meeting were Kings County Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Council Members Alan Maisel, Kalman Yeger and Mathieu Eugene, State Sen. Roxanne Persaud, Assembly Member Jamie Williams, District Leaders Sue Ann Partnoe and Ari Kagan and former State Sen. Carl Kruger.