Brooklyn Primary Puts Incumbent Brisport Against Newcomer Tillard

On August 23, 2022, the state of New York will hold primaries in congressional races and State Senate races, as well as two special elections in two vacant congressional districts. In the coming weeks, Albany Update will profile key primary elections in various areas of the state.

This week, Albany Update will profile a Democratic Party primary that is scheduled to be held in the newly-drawn 25th State Senate District in northern Brooklyn. The three candidates are first-term State Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn); Rev. Conrad Tillard, an activist, pastor, and professor; and Renee Holmes. While the contours of the race are still taking shape, the race in Senate District 25 seems to be a battle between a progressive (Sen. Brisport), a center-left candidate (Rev. Tillard), and an unknown candidate (Ms. Holmes).

Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn) was first elected to the New York State Senate in 2020. A former middle school math teacher and actor, Sen. Brisport holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a master’s degree in fine arts from Yale School of Drama. Sen. Brisport was endorsed by New York City Democratic Socialists of America during his 2020 candidacy and his 2022 re-election bid has been endorsed by the organization as well. The senator has also been endorsed by the Working Families Party.

In 2020, then-State Senate candidate Brisport posted the following Tweet:

Since entering the Senate, Sen. Brisport has voted for the following bills that have become law:

Sen. Brisport also voted for the so-called Equality Amendment, which would—if given second passage by the Legislature and approved by New York voters—enact a constitutional ban on discrimination based on “sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy.” The Senator has co-sponsored several proposed bills, including the Adoption Tax Deduction Bill, the New York Health Act (which would create a single-payer system of socialized health insurance), the physician-assisted suicide bill, and a measure to fully decriminalize prostitution.

According to his campaign website, Rev. Conrad Tillard has lived in Senate District 25 for 20 years and holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Union Theological Seminary, and Princeton Theological Seminary. City & State New York reports that Rev. Tillard was once associated with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam; however, he went on to become a pastor at three New York City churches. City & State New York adds that Rev. Tillard “is running as a more moderate alternative to [Sen.] Brisport,” has been endorsed by State Sen. Kevin Parker, and has received a campaign donation from a political action committee linked to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Rev. Tillard’s website adds that he hosts a radio show, is a two-time PTA President, and teaches Black Studies at The City College of New York.

On the issues, Rev. Tillard indicates that he supports charter schools; regarding criminal justice, he states that “we need to look at the strengths and weaknesses of cash bail reform legislation and be willing to go where the evidence leads us.”

Albany Update was unable to find any information on candidate Renee Holmes.