Letitia James, Representing the County of Kings

Correction Appended

On September 15, 2009, councilwoman Letitia A. James was elected in the Democratic Primary to represent Brooklyn’s 35th District in city council and on November 3, she may be re-elected to serve her district for the fourth time in a row. The district is comprised of neighborhoods such as Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant, and parts of Crown Heights.

Letitia James, councilwoman of the 35th District of New York, poses in Brooklyn, her hometown. Photo taken by Edward Droste for the Brooklyn Rail.

Letitia James, councilwoman of the 35th District of New York, poses in Brooklyn, her hometown. Photo taken by Edward Droste for the Brooklyn Rail.

James, a life-long Brooklyn resident and a former Working Families Party candidate, was elected into city council in 2003, after her predecessor, James E. Davis, was shot in City Hall. Davis’ brother, Geoffrey, vowed to take his seat but was triumphed over by James, who won 76 percent of the vote. In her recent victory, James won 81 percent of the vote against two other candidates; Delia Hunley-Adossa and Medhanie Estiphanos.

Now, she chairs the committee on contracts, co-chairs the infrastructure task force, and is a member of the committee on economic development, the committee on parks and recreation, and four other committees according to the Gotham Gazette.

Early in her career, James, 46, obtained her Bachelor of Arts at Lehman College of the City University of New York in 1981. She later went on to Howard University in Washington D.C. to earn her Juris Doctor in 1986, and then to Columbia University to earn her Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 2003.

In 2005, James became involved in advocating for her community’s needs regarding the Brooklyn Nets Arena and the Atlantic Yards Project. Since then, she has publicly opposed the development of a stadium in the place of the yards, instead advocating for affordable housing.

“We would attend their games in Newark,” James told the New York Times in March. “I’ll sponsor the buses to go there.”

A map of District 35 in Brooklyn. Taken from the Gotham Gazette

A map of District 35 in Brooklyn. Taken from the Gotham Gazette

In July of 2008, James advocated for the demolition of Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for a supermarket, but later recanted her statement, according to the Brooklyn Paper. This put her in the crossfire between preservationists and those in the neighborhood that want to raze the houses and build a regional supermarket equipped with a 300-space parking lot.

Last October, James worked with current Public Advocate candidate and city councilman Bill de Blasio to introduce a bill that would allow citizens vote on whether or not Mayor Mike Bloomberg can extend mayoral term limits from two eight year terms to three eight year terms. The bill was shot down, but that did not keep James from opposing Bloomberg’s proposal.

When I went to the neighborhood of Clinton Hill today, the only person that would talk to me in the five minutes I was there was a young man named Andrew Schaffer who goes to Pratt. “Letitia kicks ass,” he said. “She rocks my socks.”

Fun fact: James has a blog, named Team Tish.

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