Mail-in ballots decide council races
by Nicholas Loud
Nov 24, 2021 | 248 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo: Ari Kagan
Photo: Ari Kagan
slideshow
Photo: Justin Brannan
Photo: Justin Brannan
slideshow
Mail-in ballots allowed Democrats to declare victory in two South Brooklyn City Council races this past week after election day ended with no clear winner.

In District 43, which includes Bay Ridge and parts of Dyker Heights, Democratic incumbent Justin Brannan narrowly defeated political newcomer Brian Fox.

Meanwhile in District 47, Democrat Ari Kagan edged out against Republican opponent Mark Szuszkiewicz.

On election night, Kagan led his opponent by 283 votes, a margin that was too close to officially declare as a victory. As mail-in ballots were counted, the Democrat’s victory became apparent.

Szuszkiewicz conceded with an online statement, congratulating Kagan and offering to help the new council member however he could. Kagan responded and thanked his opponent for running a clean and civil race.

A Belarussian immigrant, Kagan’s platform focused primarily on improving public safety, speeding up pandemic recovery, and preserving the Gifted and Talented program in city public schools.

“This country and this city gave me and my family, immigrants from Belarus, so many opportunities to succeed,” Kagan said. “I will work very hard to make sure the American Dream is alive and well for generations to come for families in my district and across New York City.”

In District 43, Brannan came back after trailing by more than 200 votes on election night.

“I want to thank the thousands of Brooklyn voters of all parties who supported my crime-fighting bid for City Council,” Fox said in his concession statement. “We managed to come within one percentage point of victory, something none of the so-called experts predicted.”

The race for District 43 was more bitter than that in District 47. During the campaign, local podcast Radio Free Bay Ridge highlighted a series of tweets Fox liked, including tweets rejecting Joe Biden’s presidential election and another vowing to “make Bay Ridge white again.”

Fox retaliated by claiming Brannan orchestrated the investigation. After declaring victory, Brannan reflected on the role disinformation played during the campaign.

“Up against a red wave driven by misinformation, lies, and one of the dirtiest campaigns Southern Brooklyn has ever seen, we prevailed because we refused to be defined by simplistic right or left labels,” he said. “Instead focused on delivering for the hardworking people who call this district home.”

With his return to office now secured, Brannan plans on continuing pandemic recovery efforts, decreasing property taxes, and investing more into the district’s parks.

Brannan has been discussed as a candidate for next speaker of the CIty Council, yet his odds at securing the role might be in jeopardy due to his narrow election victory.

Republicans had one win to celebrate in Southern Brooklyn. In District 48 in Sheepshead Bay, Republican Inna Vernikov handily defeated Democrat Steven Saperstein in what was expected to be a close contest.

Meanwhile, Republicans won two seats in Queens, Vickie Paladino in Bayside and Joann Ariola in the Rockaways, and two in Staten Island.

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