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Jockeying to Fill Open Legislative Seats Beginning in Brooklyn

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It's a situation Brookynites haven't seen for decades: from Bergen Beach to Bushwick to Brooklyn Heights, there are five open legislative seats, with two more state lawmakers saying they aren't running for re-election, and amid a shifting racial and ethnic picture, the jockeying to fill the posts is beginning.

Rhoda Jacobs first ran for the state Assembly in 1978. It was easy to remember voters' concerns. They all started with the letter I.

"You know what the three I's are? Ireland, Italy and Israel," she said.

Israel still counts, but the Democrat is retiring from a district that's long been filled with New Yorkers born in the Caribbean. It's a familiar tale in the city's most populous borough.

"It is a melting pot," said political consultant Tyquana Persons. "You have some neighborhoods that have been heavily gentrified. You have the indigenous population going deeper into Brooklyn, and I believe that some of those voters will start to turn out."

Turn out in September's primary. That will all but decide who represents seven seats, six in the state Assembly and one in the state Senate, replacing Eric Adams, who's now borough president.

Candidates are already touting their backgrounds, but that won't be the only way to win. If the past is any guide, this will be a low turnout election. That has observers looking to political clubs and unions to help drive the vote.

"That is an opportunity for special interests, frankly, to walk in and control and election, especially when there's an open seat and it's a multi-candidate race," said political consultant Evan Thies.

It's promising to be just that for Inez Barron's old seat. She's in the City Council. Her husband, a former Councilman, faces opposition for the East New York district.

Ditto to replace Assemblyman William Boyland. He's in jail after a corruption conviction. Several candidates want to take his place.

Front-runners are already seen elsewhere in Brooklyn, like to replace Joan Millman, resigning for a yet-to-be-determined post after 17 years in Albany.

"I've had a good career. I've really enjoyed it. I think I've accomplished some good things," Millman said.

Jacobs feels the same way. So why retire? For one, she's been there 36 years, a lucky number in her tradition. Plus, she used to hitch a ride to Albany with Alan Maisel. Now, the former Assemblyman is a Councilman. This election also determines who fills his Brooklyn seat.

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