Kagan leads Szuszkiewicz, but final call in close Coney Council race hinges on absentee ballots

Democrat Ari Kagan leads Republican/Save the Planet candidate Mark Szuszkiewicz by 283 votes.
Photos courtesy of candidates

Democrat Ari Kagan currently leads his Republican and Save the Planet party opponent Mark Szuszkiewicz, but with just under 300 votes between them, the race to rep City Council’s 47th District will hinge on absentee ballots for a final call.

“I feel great, I feel energized, I am very happy,” Kagan told Brooklyn Paper. “I am very grateful to voters of the 47th district for this honor, this consideration, this support. I am very grateful.”

Both candidates have lost previous elections. Kagan, an aide for outgoing Councilmember Mark Treyger and a district leader for the 45th Assembly District, previously ran against Chaim Deutsch for the neighboring District 48 Council seat in 2013 and against primary opponent Alec Brook-Krasny to represent Assembly District 46 in 2006.

Szuszkiewicz — a known Qanon supporter who also attended the Jan. 6 Capitol riot (but says he did not storm the building) — was previously a contender in the 2020 District 46 Assembly race, where he caused a shocking upset, taking the lead from incumbent Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus by 2,000 votes on election night. She went on to win reelection by 838 votes when absentee ballots were counted.

The 47th District encompasses Coney Island, Gravesend, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst and Seagate — a swath of southern Brooklyn that is historically more likely to vote Republican than more northern Brooklyn districts, but is currently led by Democratic Treyger.

Kagan currently has 51 percent of the vote (6,592) to Szuszkiewicz’s 49 percent (6,309), according to unofficial Board of Elections results. Kagan’s camp hopes his 283-vote margin will only grow once the district’s 923 absentee ballots are counted — a huge majority, 704 of them, belonging to registered Democrats. Just 104 of those votes are registered to Republicans and Conservatives, giving Kagan the advantage.

Szuszkiewicz is putting his faith in one Gravesend poll site, he says, hasn’t been counted yet, as he doesn’t expect to trump Kagan with absentee ballots.

“That could turn over in my favor and give me a 100 or maybe even 200 lead when the election day voting is done,” the GOP candidate told Brooklyn Paper, “but [looking at] the absentee ballots … I might end up losing in the paper even after taking the election day voting.”

But he said it is not impossible, as he suspects a number of Democrats ended up voting for him in person.

“I mean who knows,” Szuszkiewicz said. “There were a lot of Democrats who voted for me in person, it is possible they voted for me by paper, too.”

Kagan, for his part, doesn’t expect the election night numbers to change that drastically when the other 3 percent of scanners are reported, and therefore is confident he will be elected to the Council.

“I don’t see any dramatic changes, even if there are like 300 less votes but then it’s absentee ballots so the only question is by how much,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “That is the only question so I feel very optimistic and confident.”

Absentee ballots will not be counted until Nov. 15, the deadline for ballots to be received as long as they are postmarked on or before Nov. 2.

Update (Nov. 8 at 10:50 am): This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of returned absentee ballots in City Council District 47.