2021 Elections: Who’s running for City Council in the 43rd District

pjimage (4)
Incumbent Councilmember Justin Brannan will face off against Republican Brian Fox in November to represent the 43rd Council District.
Courtesy of campaigns

City Council District 43 encompasses Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and parts of Bensonhurst.

Just two candidates are slated to face off to represent the district — Democratic incumbent Councilmember Justin Brannan and his Republican opponent, Brian Fox. Both will run unopposed in the June primary and face off in November in the general election for the seat.

The election comes as parts of the district are split politically — with a Democratic state Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis currently serving a large swath of the Council district. It also comes as the neighborhood works to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, which has dealt a blow to local businesses while also forcing locals to band together and help each other where and when they can

Brooklyn Paper reached out to each of the candidates to hear more about their plans for the seat. Below are their responses, ordered alphabetically by last name: 


Councilmember Justin BrannanCourtesy of campaign

Brooklyn Paper: Why are you running for City Council?

Justin Brannan: Since 2018, it has been the honor of my life to serve the neighborhoods where I grew up. And I hope the people will put their trust in me once again. Like you, I have high hopes for what 2021 will mean for us, our community, our city, and our country. I don’t have to tell you 2020 was an unbelievably tough and challenging year for everyone. We all put our normal lives on hold, and everyone has sacrificed so much. I’m not going to lie, when I decided to run for office, I never thought I would be governing during a global pandemic but it showed me that when times get tough, leadership doesn’t mean having all the answers: it means communicating as clearly and as often as possible; and addressing every problem seriously, no matter how big or small. It means reaching out, and being there, all the time, for the people who put their faith and trust in me to serve.

BP: Tell us about yourself, what you do for a living, your relationship to the district, and which neighborhood you live in. 

JB: My mom still lives in the apartment where I grew up in Bay Ridge. Took my first steps on Shore Road cobblestones. I went to PS 185, McKinley and Xaverian. I got my start in politics working for Councilman Gentile and serving on Community Board 10 before that. Being an elected official during COVID-19 has taught me a lot. I saw clearly how many of our neighbors are just one missed paycheck away from losing their home. I saw clearly how inextricably bound we are to one another’s health and safety. Rebuilding after this pandemic is going to be a heavy lift, but I have never been more ready. Now more than ever, we need people in office who will fight like hell for our collective future. I am honored to serve the hardworking people of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, and Bensonhurst every single day. New York City isn’t going anywhere, and neither am I.    

BP: What’s your political experience? 

JB: There is no standard path. I believe we need more, not less “unconventional” folx running for office. You don’t have to be an Ivy League lawyer or know how to knot a bowtie. Do you care about your neighborhood? Do you have ideas on how to improve it? Can you think outside the box? Are you willing to run through walls and fight like hell for people you don’t know? Then you are qualified to run for office. I believe empathy should be the only prerequisite. Also, solutions. Pointing at stuff and saying “Grrrr! I’m angry and this is a problem!” is easy. Anybody can do that. People wanna know what you’re gonna do about it to make it better and what have you done to show leadership before running for office. 

BP: What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them? 

JB: Right now, my main focus is making sure everyone gets vaccinated because that will allow us to focus on building back our neighborhoods even stronger. There’s no way around it; this past year was unlike anything we’ve ever known or experienced. It was an extremely anxious time but everyone in our community has always come together like a small town when things get tough.

This time, the challenges we face are extraordinary and they are not unique to our area. What’s happened here has happened in every neighborhood across the nation. For a year now, we’ve struggled in the throes of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. To slow the spread of COVID and save lives, millions were urged or ordered to stay at home. The economic impact of a year of lockdown measures was catastrophic. This was only further inflamed and compounded by loss, stunted grief, a long overdue reckoning with systemic racism, widening inequality, growing polarization, endless mixed messages, and a complete lack of leadership from City Hall to the White House through the darkest days of the pandemic. 

BP: If elected again, what, if anything, will you do differently?

JB: As your duly elected councilmember, it is my job to fight for working people and stand up for the “little guy.” Whether tenants, homeowners, seniors, small business owners, or new immigrants, it is my job to ensure that my diverse district is a place that welcomes and accepts everyone, no matter where they’re from, how long they’ve lived here, who they love, or what god they pray to. Whether it’s through lifting up the voices of those historically left out or making sure my district gets the attention we need and deserve from all levels of government, I believe it is my mission to make life just a little bit easier for all working families who call our community home.

BP: What endorsements do you have?

JB: Just about every labor union in the City of New York has endorsed my re-election and that is something I am incredibly proud of. Labor unions are a real pain in the neck for anybody looking to steal from and exploit hardworking families. For everybody else, they are the antidote for corporate greed and a pathway to the middle class. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Rarely do record profits reward the folx responsible for the hard work. We have to fight for every crumb. Another reason why labor unions are so crucial and will be so critical to our recovery.


Brian Fox.Courtesy of campaign

Brooklyn Paper: Why are you running for City Council?

Brian Fox: I live and work in South Brooklyn and this last year our community has had to deal with a destructive and deadly pandemic. The “response” was handled horribly by our local representatives in my opinion. Seniors were sent to die in unprotected senior living facilities, business have lost everything and crime has skyrocketed. I have personally witnessed this significant change in the area. There has been a tremendous uptick in theft, vandalism, graffiti and general crime, all under the watch of our current councilman.

I was just tired of saying “someone should do something about it” and I decided to jump into the ring and take a stand against this insanity myself. Furthermore, I want to be a voice for so many of my neighbors that have been harmed by this current administration’s reckless agenda. I may just be an “average citizen” but I believe the ‘little guy” deserves to be heard at City Hall, too! So after encouragement from friends, family and other community leaders, I decided to go all in.

BP: Tell us about yourself, what you do for a living, your relationship to the district, and which neighborhood you live in?

BF: I am a longtime resident of Bay Ridge and my entire family is born and raised in Brooklyn so my connections to Brooklyn are deep. As a local business owner myself, I am a huge supporter of local businesses in my area and have developed very strong ties to the people that make Brooklyn what it is. I have owned and operated in Bay Ridge and I plan on staying in business so you can count on me to fight every crazy thing that comes out of City Hall.

BP: What’s your political experience?

BF: Great question. “Political Experience” is part of the problem. I am proud to say I am not a politician and never had any intention of being involved. I’m just a local neighbor who is fed up with “politics” in general.

BP: What are the biggest challenges facing the district and how will you solve them?

BF: We must support the NYPD: It is our local cops that keep all of us safe and put themselves out on the line to prevent us from general harm. I’d like to have more cops on the beat, especially on all major streets and avenues. I also want to re-fund the police in response to the current councilman’s dangerous defunding efforts of our NYPD.

Quality of Life: There has been a growing bout of tagging, vandalism, theft and quality of life crimes. Our fellow renters and homeowners pay way too much money to live in fear of crime, or with trash piling up on the street corners. I’ll be working with the Dept. of Sanitation on a regular basis to ensure that our streets get cleaned promptly but more importantly, remain that way.

Seniors and the Disabled:  I will work with our current community centers to ensure that there is consistent levels of healthcare and prescription drug coverage, entertainment, transportation and programs for our seniors. Furthermore, I’d like to create more community outreach by adding more community centers. I also plan to make our community fully accessible for seniors by next year. 

BP: What will you do differently than the incumbent?

BF: For starters, I’ll show up. The current councilman spends too much time on social media and getting into arguments with constituents on twitter. I plan to take a hands on approach. Instead of being someone who complains about problems, I intend to fix them. You may see less of my online and in the media but you will also see less crime, potholes and trash. Currently, I like to take pictures of problems, my goal is to fix them before the community has to look at them. 

BP: What endorsements do you have?

BF: I have the endorsement of the Brooklyn Republican and Conservative Parties as well as the endorsement of the Verrazzano Republican Club.

Note: Some responses have been edited for brevity, clarity, and style consistency.