Borough’s first GOP councilmember in 20 years sworn into southern Brooklyn seat

district 48
Inna Vernikov.
Courtesy of campaign

Inna Vernikov was sworn into the City Council Wednesday to represent southern Brooklyn’s 48th district, becoming the first Republican to represent Kings County in the body in nearly two decades.

“It was an incredible honor to the sworn in as the new Councilmember of the 48th District today,” Vernikov said in a statement. “This was a historic victory for our community, who elected the first Republican Councilmember from Brooklyn in twenty years.”

Brooklyn’s newest elected thanked her supporters and constituents, and said she is getting to work on the 48th’s business with haste.

“I am excited to get down to business immediately, and begin the work of representing my district and serving my constituents,” Vernikov continued. “I am truly grateful to everyone who has supported me in this journey, and I look forward to being their voice in City Hall.”

Vernikov was sworn in a day after the city’s November general election results were certified by the Board of Elections. Most incoming councilmembers will be sworn in on Jan. 1, but Vernikov is taking office early to fill the seat left vacant since the expulsion of Chaim Deutsch in April, after being convicted of federal tax fraud.

Deutsch began his three-month prison sentence last month at the federal prison in upstate Otisville, after endorsing and helping elect Vernikov. Deutsch’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, Tova Chatzinoff-Rosenfeld, is Vernikov’s new Chief of Staff.

The new Councilmember representing Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, and part of Midwood is the first Republican to represent any part of Brooklyn at City Hall since 2003, when Marty Golden left his Bay Ridge Council seat to serve in the State Senate. She’s also the only Republican legislator representing Brooklyn at all other than US Rep. Nicole Malliotakis and Assemblymember Michael Tannousis, who both live on Staten Island and represent districts largely comprised of The Rock, but contain a section of South Brooklyn.

Vernikov is the only elected Republican whose district lies entirely within Brooklyn.

“The Brooklyn Republican Party, and its Chairman Ted Ghorra, could not be prouder to have helped elect Inna Vernikov to the incoming City Council,” Brooklyn Republican Party chair Ted Ghorra wrote in an email. “The constituents of the 48th City Council District, and Brooklynites everywhere, will be well represented by injecting common sense and a diversity of ideas in furthering a two party system that benefits us all, and Inna will no doubt be strong voice of reason and common sense moving forward.”

The area has historically elected Democrats to its legislative seats but is ideologically conservative, having been one of the strongest areas in the city for Donald Trump in his 2016 and 2020 campaigns.

Vernikov, who ran on a platform opposing vaccine mandates and against defunding the NYPD, won the seat last month after defeating Democrat Steven Saperstein by a massive 23 point margin, in a race that was expected to be one of the closest in the city. Her win was part of a strong night for the GOP both nationally and locally: the Republican minority in the City Council picked up two seats, and now has a five-member bloc in the body representing three boroughs, in addition to a smattering of conservative Democrats who often ally with the GOP caucus, including Borough Park’s Kalman Yeger and Queens’ Bob Holden. The bloc is being led by Staten Island’s Joe Borelli, the only one of the five who is entering a second term.

The GOP nearly picked up two other seats in Brooklyn, Bay Ridge’s 43rd district and Coney Island’s 47th, but the Democrats narrowly held them both after absentee ballots were counted.

Republicans are still vastly outnumbered in the 51-member Council, but having five members plus a few allies means the party may have a greater say in the Council’s business in the coming term than the last, and could be influential in close votes.

Correction: this article initially stated that the only other elected Republican representing Brooklyn was Nicole Malliotakis, who represents a section of South Brooklyn along with Staten Island. The same is also true of Republican Assemblymember Michael Tannousis, who reps the 64th Assembly District. We regret the error.