It won’t be the first political club in the area; several exist. But Collymore said her's would be different, focused on community services over backroom political dealing.
The club “is crucial because I feel that the general population needs assistance and they’re not getting it from elected officials and other clubs,” said Collymore, who comes from an established family of Clinton Hill small business owners. “It's not about dancing with the stars, its about community service.”
Collymore, who worked on Councilman David Weprin’s campaign for comptroller in Brooklyn, said she decided to form a club after she had trouble receiving help from a local elected official. She said the incident made her worry that less well-connected constituents with no access to public officials were being ignored altogether.
The club will make its official debut October 25, and Collymore said it already has 50 members. Most are from Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, but some will travel to the monthly meetings at the 18 Putnam Avenue clubhouse from neighborhoods like Red Hook, East New York, and Brownsville.
Collymore said the club’s mission would be to educate people about the government services available to them - serving as a helpful link to elected officials - while encouraging them to become more civically involved.
She said she hopes the club will produce the next generation of elected officials, or at least help foster a culture of political activity. The club will be involved with elections throughout the borough.
“I’m looking for young people [with political] potential,” Collymore said, though membership is open to anyone. “I’m really hoping to grow the club as wide as I can.”
Collymore said the club is also in negotiations with an area school to host a semi-regular field trip. She said students would spend time at the club learning about civics. Eventually, Collymore said, she would move the program into the school, which does not offer a civics course.
One club member, Natalie Vernon of Crown Heights, said the organization would bring freshness to a stale political environment.
“A new standard needs to be set,” said Vernon. “People need to be aware of what’s going on.”
Another member, Rodney Deas, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, said he was hopeful the Parliament Democratic Club would give members more access to city government. “It's good what Renee is doing,” he said. “I’m excited.”
Local political clubs often serve as launching pads for public service careers, something Collymore acknowledged. She said she would consider a future run for office, though in the short-term she is focused on making the club succeed.
“If the opportunity arises and it’s the best time, then I would like to eventually throw my hat in the ring,” Collymore said. But for right now, “I like being active at the grassroots level and helping people in their lives.”