Edu Hermelyn, a Democratic district leader married to party leader and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, has been named “Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives” in the city’s Department of Social Services (DSS)—a position tasked with smoothing relations with local elected officials, according to job listings.
The husband of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party boss is the latest campaign aide to land a gig in Mayor Eric Adams’ administration.
Edu Hermelyn, a Democratic district leader married to party leader and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, has been named “Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives” in the city’s Department of Social Services (DSS)—a position tasked with smoothing relations with local elected officials, according to job listings. He may have his work cut out for him in some pockets of his home borough after he ignited intraparty tensions by reciting a vulgar Spanish-language song that seemed to target another elected official at a meeting last year.
But Hermelyn has remained a steadfast ally of the new mayor, who has close ties to the Brooklyn Democrats. Adams paid Hermelyn nearly $81,000 for consulting work during his successful campaign, according to financial records first reported by the New York Post.
City Hall officials declined to share Hermelyn’s new salary information, which will be available in the City Record in March.
“[DSS] Commissioner [Gary] Jenkins, just like Mayor Adams, is focused on hiring the best people to serve the best city in the world,” a City Hall spokesperson said. “Edu has been a tireless champion for New Yorkers during his time as a community organizer and will bring fresh insight to the Department of Social Services.”
A DSS spokesperson directed questions to Adams’ press office. Hermelyn did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.
City Hall provided little information about Hermelyn’s responsibilities, but job listings posted online last month describe an intergovernmental affairs role focused on building relationships with elected officials—a key concern for DSS, which encounters chronic “Not-In-My-Backyard” posturing from lawmakers over where to open homeless shelters and other decisions. DSS is comprised of the Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS).
The responsibilities include “supporting the DSS Commissioner and HRA and DHS Administrators in the development and maintenance of strong political relationships that benefit the agency,” a job listing posted online in early February states.
Hermelyn could start close to home. His wife, Bichotte Hermelyn spoke out against a proposed family shelter in Flatbush last year. She opposed a plan to turn an unused Brooklyn College dorm into a shelter for families with children in January 2021, and urged the city to instead prioritize senior and student housing at the site, according to a statement reported by Bklyner.
“The most immediate needs of the district are affordable housing for CUNY students and seniors as well as supportive services,” Bichotte Hermelyn said in a joint statement with Councilmember Farah Louis and State Sen. Kevin Parker at the time.
The trio also ripped CAMBA, the Flatbush-based nonprofit service provider initially tapped to operate the shelter, calling the organization “ill-equipped to manage any proposed shelter based upon its poor track record with two other sites in the community that has demonstrated little to no progress with delivering critical services on-site.”
The city has since adjusted the plan so that the shelter will now house 200 women, with services provided by the organization Children’s Rescue Fund. The facility is scheduled to open this spring.
Bichotte Hermelyn addressed the shelter again during a Community Board 14 hearing Feb. 7, telling participants she would be “immediately impacted” because the shelter would be located near her home. She said she did not outright reject the plan, however.
“We’re not anti-shelter, but we do have safety and security concerns,” she said, adding that she feared the facility would one day be converted to a men’s shelter.
Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter responded to that concern: “I am [un]equivocally saying that we are not going to change the shelter to men,” she said during the virtual meeting.
Bichotte Hermelyn did not respond to calls or texts seeking comment for this story.
She certainly isn’t alone in her shelter skepticism.
Elected officials routinely oppose the facilities in their districts, despite a right-to-shelter mandate in New York City and an entrenched homelessness crisis affecting every corner of the five boroughs. About 47,000 people, including roughly 8,400 families with children, spend each night in a DHS-contracted shelters, according to daily data tracked by City Limits. More than 60,000 individuals stayed in one of the city’s shelters in December 2021, the most recent data compiled by City Limits shows.
Hermelyn, who is of Haitian and Guyanese descent, could foster strong ties with the West Indian community, especially in Central Brooklyn’s 43rd Assembly District, where he serves a Democratic district leader.
The role may also force him to work closely with Brooklyn lawmakers who have sharply criticized him and his wife.
In November 2021, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, State Sen. Julia Salazar, Assemblymember Martiza Davila and Hermelyn’s former boss, Assemblymember Diana Richardson, demanded that Bichotte Hermelyn step down as party boss and Hermelyn to leave his post as district leader after he recited a crass, sexist song during a party meeting held on Zoom. Davila and other attendees said the song seemed directed at her and inflamed longstanding tensions between progressives and more moderate members of the county party. Hermelyn has said he did not fully understand the song’s meaning.
The reform group New Kings Democrats has led the resistance to the current county party leadership and criticized Hermelyn’s appointment at DSS.
“Despite Hermelyn’s disrespectful conduct towards fellow District Leader and Assembly Member Davila, current party leadership continues to reward connections and loyalty over all else,” said New Kings Democrats President Caitlin Kawaguchi.
Those intraparty disputes aside, Adams has remained loyal to the team that helped him narrowly win the Democratic primary before a landslide general election victory. He has hired a number of aides to work in his administration since taking office Jan. 1, including Jose Bayona as head of the mayor’s office of Community and Ethnic Media, Menashe Shapiro as deputy chief of staff, Tiffany Raspberry as senior advisor for external affairs and Stefan Ringel as a senior advisor.
Adams’ chief of staff, Frank Carone, was formerly counsel to the Brooklyn Democratic Party.