Towns Talks Vito, Says District Leader Race 'A Difficult Task'

Brooklyn Congressman Ed Towns said today that the only thing that could keep him from winning his son’s seat as district leader is a bloc of at-large committee members, who were appointed by county chair Vito Lopez last year.

“Well, it’s a difficult task because of the fact that they have all these at-large members,” said Towns, who didn’t mention Lopez by name, in a brief interview in his district office. “It’s not the members that are elected, there’s no question about that; I have the vote among the elected. But then there’s 12 at-large members and that seems to be a real issue. They didn’t get elected, but they were appointed, so I don’t know in terms of how that’s going to work out.”

Lopez added the new members to the state committee after a number of anti-Lopez reformers won district leader posts in the primary. If Towns is correct, and the vote of the elected district leaders is undermined by the at-large members, some Brooklyn political insiders are predicting a civil war inside the party.

Towns tried to tamp down the prospect of a civil war with Lopez–reiterating that he would not challenge him for county leader–but even that came with some implied criticism.

“I don’t have a problem working with him, because I just think we need to strengthen the county in every way. You know, I’ve seen candidates run for statewide office and not come to Brooklyn. I’ve seen candidates run for national office and not come to Brooklyn.”

In terms of registered Democrats, Towns said the only county that could compare with Kings County is Los Angeles County.

“We need to be the strongest,” he said. “So what I’d like to do is be able to unite the county so that we would have the kind of strength that we rightfully deserve as being the most populated Democratic county in the nation.”

Towns also reiterated his support for Councilmember Erik Dilan–a Lopez ally–to run for the Assembly seat being vacated by Towns’ son, Darryl, who was recently appointed state housing commisioner. But Towns hinted that he might withdraw that support, and run his own candidate, if Dilan stands for district leader.

“If he says that ‘I want to be the Assemblyman,’ I would say, ‘I’m supporting Erik Dilan for the Assembly.’ However, if it’s not Erik Dilan, then there has to be a serious discussion about it. And of course, that’s where we are.”

“He’s a person who has demonstrated his commitment to the community and has worked hard. And I have a lot of respect for him,” Towns said of Dilan.

As it stands, there remains the possibility that Towns’ daughter might seek the seat, though the congressman said nothing had been decided, and suggested it would ultimately depend on Dilan’s decision.

“If Dilan is running, I would hope my daughter would listen to her father and not run,” he said.

Towns denied he was seeking the district leader spot to put his picks in judicial posts, and said he was simply trying to stay connected.

“Locally, I enjoy that kind of involvement,” said Towns, who noted that he turned down the job of chairman when he was approached about it 20 years ago. “And Darryl was involved and was able to keep me plugged in to the local, and you know, now that he’s moving on, to be the commissioner of the housing for the state, I still want to have that tie-in to the local community. And that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Towns Talks Vito, Says District Leader Race 'A Difficult Task'