In one of the most anticipated races this election season, two councilmembers are competing against each other to represent a newly redrawn district in southern Brooklyn.
On Tuesday, Democrat Justin Brannan and Republican Ari Kagan went head to head in a lively debate on “Inside City Hall,” with Brannan going aggressively at his opponent almost from the opening bell.
What You Need To Know
- Democrat Justin Brannan and Republican Ari Kagan went head-to-head Tuesday in a lively debate on “Inside City Hall”
- Brannan and Kagan currently represent adjoining districts but are competing for the newly redrawn District 47, which runs from Bay Ridge to Coney Island
- Kagan switched parties from Democrat to Republican last year, and staked out more conservative positions Tuesday on issues like public safety and the migrant crisis
- The two candidates answered additional questions with NY1 political anchor Errol Louis
The first topic was about the local tensions arising from the Israel-Hamas war.
“I do not believe that in New York City there should be any demonstrations, any parades praising Hamas, chanting ‘from the river to the sea,’ holding anti-American, anti-Israel signs,” Kagan said. “I believe it’s totally unacceptable and I strongly condemn this.”
Brannan shot back: “For my opponent to basically try to conflate innocent Palestinians with Hamas is disgusting and divisive.”
On the influx of migrants, Kagan decried New York’s sanctuary city status, and the use of billions of city taxpayer dollars to provide free shelter and services.
“Why do we need to give all free stuff to migrants, including mopeds, cell phones, etc.,” he asked. “The more you do it, the more you incentivize people to come to New York City.”
Brannan responded: “My opponent staged a rally with Curtis Sliwa and a bunch of other demagogues to scare the crap out of people to try to say that migrant camps are opening up in Bay Ridge, at an Army base, that anyone who lives in Bay Ridge knows, they are not going to put migrants on an active Army base.”
Brannan and Kagan currently represent adjoining districts in southern Brooklyn. But when district lines were redrawn last year, both Council members landed in the new District 47, which links Bay Ridge and parts of Dyker Heights to Bath Beach and Coney Island.
Kagan then switched parties from Democrat to Republican, setting up a general election battle that has turned feisty.
“People in Bay Ridge don’t trust you, man,” Brannan told his opponent.
While Brannan is more moderate than many of his Democratic council colleagues, Kagan clearly staked out more conservative turf Tuesday.
He framed himself as stronger on public safety, noting he’s won support from law enforcement unions. Brannan did his best to undercut that idea.
“You voted to defund NYPD by $1 billion,” Kagan told Brannan, “and publicly stated on social media that these cuts did not go far enough.”
“I’ve got more cops in my district than when I first got elected,” Brannan replied. “I know Coney Island doesn’t, but that’s your fault because you can’t advocate.”
Anything Kagan says about public safety, Brannan added, “You throw it out the window. This year, we increased the police budget by $450 million. Ari Kagan was a no vote.”
Early voting begins this Saturday, Oct. 28. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.