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Incumbent: Tracy Boyland
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
Tracy Boyland has not filed.
Roy-Pierre Cormier has not filed.
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
Dawn of a Renaissance
For almost a quarter of a century, the Boyland family of Central
Brooklyn has played a major role in local politics, occupying
seats in both the City Council and the State Assembly. Their reign
will probably continue in 2001 since no one so far is running
against Tracy Boyland for the City Council seat from district
41. Some say privately that potential challengers have been scared
out of the race by the power of incumbency and the dynasty.
"I don't think we inhibit anybody from running," Boyland said.
"It's a democratic process so anyone is open to run for office."
The Boyland family's base is the second largest black community
in the nation. From 1977 to 1982, Thomas Boyland was state assemblyman
for the 55th assembly district, which includes many of the same
neighborhoods as the city council district. When he died in 1982,
the neighborhood dedicated a street in his honor and elected his
brother, William Boyland, to succeed him in the State Assembly.
Tracy is William's daughter. Her brother, William Boyland, Jr.
is currently a Democratic district leader.
Tracy Boyland worked briefly as a teacher, then became a representative
of her union, the United Federation of Teachers. She has spent
most of her career in politics -- as a legislative assistant,
for example, for the Congressional Black Caucus.
While community leaders are careful to praise Boyland, it is
clear there is much still to be done in the neighborhoods she
represents. Central Brooklyn has one of the highest infant mortality
rates in the city as well as a very high number of asthma and
"Councilwoman Tracy Boyland is so active in health issues, she's
been very helpful," said Monica Sweeny, the vice president of
medical affairs at the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center.
Sweeny noted that last year Boyland helped bring in $1.6 million
for new technology to screen and treat prostate cancer in the
area. But Sweeny added that the improvements are "too little and
too slow" and that the area does not have enough resources or
medical personnel to provide adequate care to the residents. Many
of them are new African and Caribbean immigrants reluctant to
seek medical care or unaware of their healthcare options, exacerbating
the health problems in the community.
Boyland said she has been working with community health centers
to distribute information pamphlets in the area about AIDS and
infant mortality. "Many people in the minority community don't
know that AIDS is something that also affects heterosexuals,"
Harvey Lawrence, vice president of Brownsville Community Development
Corporation, says that more resources need to be brought into
his neighborhood, similar to what was done 40 years ago in neighboring
Bedford Stuyvesant. In 1960, the high poverty rate and poor housing
and health conditions in that neighborhood sparked Senators Robert
F. Kennedy and Jacob Javits to establish the Bedford Stuyvesant
Restoration Corporation. The Restoration Corporation, which still
exists, strove to bring members of the community together with
private businesses in order to strengthen and improve the local
economy, culture, and family life.
"Residents need opportunities such as high paying jobs, technology,
better schools and human services," Lawrence added.
Despite the need for more programs and funding, Central Brooklyn
has been undergoing a quiet renaissance. Crime is down in an area
that at one point was considered one of the most dangerous in
Brooklyn. Noting that a lot of gun trafficking takes place in
the back alleys of Central Brooklyn, Boyland said she has been
advocating stricter penalties for people who purchase guns in
places like Georgia and bring them into New York.
Many historical brownstones, particularly in Bedford Stuyvesant,
have been successfully restored. Boyland feels that the restoration
of brownstones will attract residents from Manhattan to buy homes
in the area, which will boost economic development and improve
the quality of life in the long run.
"We don't get the same coverage like Harlem does about successful
brownstone restoration," she said, "but there has been a rebirth
Boyland, who is chairperson of the Housing Committee, said she
plans to continue working on brownstone restoration and creating
more affordable housing in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, especially
for senior citizens.
Since 1998, test scores for students living in district 41 have
risen slightly with 33 percent scoring above national average
in reading, and 47 percent scoring above national average in math.
But the scores remain among the lowest in the city. Boyland said
professional development for teachers is vital to keep teachers
up to date in the computer age. She has worked to bring more computers
into the schools so students in the area can successfully compete
with students from the suburbs.
Boyland said she looks to her predecessors, such as Congresswomen
Shirley Chisolm, the first black woman to seek a major party's
nomination for president, for inspiration in bringing together
her constituents to improve these problems. She says, "The method
to real change lies in the hard work, time and effort of the community
Two new candidates are running in district 41, challenging what at first
seemed to be an easy reelection for City Councilwoman Tracy Boyland. But
Abdur Rahman Farrakhan is determined to break up the Boyland family's hold on
local politics, no matter what it takes -- including harsh rhetoric.
"To my dismay I have found that we have a great void in leadership,
particularly in the political arena and the only reason why the Boyland
family is still in office is because of the inertia and apathy of our communi
ty. The whole family is equally inept," Farrakhan said. "If I lose this
time, I will be waiting in the door in 2003." Farrakhan's petitions are
currently being challenged by Boyland in court.
Farrakhan said that although there have been vast improvements in the
physical environment of the community such as brownstone restoration, better
infrastructure and cleaner streets, there has also been a "great
deterioration in the human environment." Farrakhan said that teen pregnancy,
high infant mortality, HIV, and high unemployment are major problems in the
community, and have not improved at all.
"We have Mexicans who come here, people from all over the world and they get
jobs. Our young men stand on the street corners, completely hopeless. But all
our leaders do is party and sit on their thrones," he said.
Farrakhan, who is president and chief executive officer of the
Oceanhill-Brownsville Tenants Association, Inc., an organization that has
been creating and managing low and moderate income housing for 20 years, said
he has done more for the improvement of housing in the community than all of
the Boyland family put together.
Farrakhan proclaims he is not worried about winning the race because he said
he already has won by just getting involved in the process and challenging
the Boyland family's authority.
"I'm originally from South Carolina and I remember in the Jim Crow South that
you had to fight in order to be part of the government. But I never thought I
would find that here in Brooklyn," he said. "It is the same thing, except
this time they have a black face. But they are doing the same thing that the
slave masters did by trying to have the courts decide and not the people."
Tracy Boyland would not respond to several telephone calls for comment.
The other candidate running, Roy-Pierre Cormier, is running under the Republican
Party and could not be reached for comment.
Tracy Boyland began her political career as a liaison
for former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins and served as
an intern in several congressional offices, eventually becoming
a legislative assistant for the Congressional Black Caucus. After
teaching briefly in the city public schools, she was elected Chapter
Chairperson of the United Federation of Teachers in School District
23. Boyland was elected to City Council in 1997 and serves on
the Environmental Protection, Housing and Buildings, Contracts
and Aging Committees.
Roy-Pierre Cormier (no information available)
Abdur-Rahman Farrakhan is president and chief executive
officer of the Oceanhill-Brownsville Tenants Association, Inc.,
where for 20 years he has been creating and managing low and moderate-income
housing. He has been a board member of the Association of Neighborhood
Housing Developers (ANHD) and a leader of the Community Housing
Association. He has also worked as a chaplain with the New York
State Department of Corrections in the ministerial services division,
and currently serves as the Imam of Al-Jamiyah in Oceanhill-Brownsville
area. He received his bachelor's from City University and a master's
from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business' Not-for-Profit
Institute and from York College in Management and Small Business
Fourth grade test scores rose in some districts, while dropping
in others. The steepest improvements were in District 25 in Flushing,
Queens, where the number of students meeting state standards increased
by 11.2 percentage points, to 65.7 percent, and District 23 in
Brownsville, Brooklyn, showed one of the sharpoest rises in fourth
grade test scores in the city. Some 41.8 percent of students met
state standard, an increase of 8.4 percentage points from 2000.
(The New York Times)
Sunset Park's Angel Rodriguez and Brownsville's Tracy Boyland
already have expressed interest in the City Council speaker's
One of Brooklyn's legendary housing groups is having a mid-life
crisis. At its peak, Oceanhill-Brownsville Tenants Association
(OHBTA) was a powerhouse, rehabbing hundreds of city-owned buildings.
Now, says Executive Director Abdur Rahman Farrakhan, the group
is getting out of the business, actively managing only about 300
apartments. While OHBTA still holds title to the buildings--mostly
vacant and dilapidated properties rehabbed through city grants--it
has passed off day-to-day management to outside for-profit management
In the eastern Brooklyn neighborhoods once marred with dilapidated
housing projects, the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Tenants Association
has earned an almost saintly reputation for crusading against
the worst of urban blight. (Daily
Nine members of a City Council committee today could pave
the way for passage of a much-disputed bill aimed at protecting
children from lead poisoning. Some 30,000 city children have lead
poisoning, which can cause irreversible brain damage, and the
list grows by about 1,000 children a year. (Daily
A group of Brooklyn politicians and clergymen vowed to support
tougher gun control laws during a meeting last week at the Brownsville
site where 11-year-old Kelvin McGinnis was shot to death. The
coalition, organized by City Councilwoman Tracy Boyland (D-Brownsville),
was formed in response to Kelvin's murder by teenage gang members
wielding illegal guns. (Daily
Tracy Boyland defeated several challengers to fill the council
seat being vacated by Enoch Williams. (Daily
In 1968 the New York City Board of Education attempted to give
three local school districts in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn
local jurisdiction of the school's budget, curriculum and administration
in what back+fired in a major teacher's strike and a failed attempt.