A controversial politico who made headlines after nearly winning a southern Brooklyn state Assembly seat in November will run for City Council in Coney Island, campaign filings reveal.
Mark Szuszkiewicz, a Bay Ridge native, gained national attention last year after Brooklyn Paper reported that the Republican had posted in apparent support of the conspiracy theory QAnon on his social media accounts.
At the time, Szuszkiewicz was outpacing Democratic incumbent Mathylde Frontus in the race for the 46th District seat representing Coney Island and portions of Brighton Beach, Gravesend, and Bay Ridge. The conservative politico — whose campaign had raised only $1,420 compared to Frontus’ more than $18,600 — raked in 51 percent of the in-person vote, initially leading Frontus by more than 2,000 ballots.
However, the absentee ballots swayed the race to Frontus, who ended up winning by 838 votes, according to the Board of Elections.
Szuszkiewicz’s defeat didn’t take him out of politics for long. The candidate recently filed to run for the Council seat currently held by term-limited Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, Sea Gate, and parts of Gravesend and Bensonhurst. If elected, Szuszkiewicz said that he hopes to enact many of the legislative ideas he proposed as an Assembly hopeful.
“The reason why I ran for state Assembly in the first place is because I wanted to make a difference, and that’s why I want to run for Council now,” he told Brooklyn Paper.
In the Council, Szuszkiewicz said he would push for mandatory courses in public schools that teach students basic plumbing, electrical wiring, and mechanical skills. The candidate would also focus on homeless services and reforms to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Under two such reforms, NYCHA could be funded by municipal bonds, and long-term public housing residents would be able to buy their units, he said.
“It’s sort of like a co-op situation, but they could only sell to other people who meet that income threshold,” Szuszkiewicz said about his public housing proposal.
Szuszkiewicz’s campaign filing comes about four months after the candidate faced backlash for several posts on his Instagram and Twitter pages that seemed to support QAnon, a conspiracy theory that claims Democratic leaders and celebrities run a global child sex trafficking ring and that former President Donald Trump is their savior.
In one Instagram post, Szuszkiewicz uploaded a screenshot of a news article falsely claiming that Greece categorized pedophilia as a disability, with a caption saying, “@tomhanks becoming a citizen of Greece after pedophilia is considered a disability. Coincidence?” Other posts featured hashtags for QAnon or content from vocal QAnon followers. One image Szuszkiewicz reposted on Instagram said, “Trump should get your vote just for his war on pedophiles and sex trafficking rings, alone.”
Speaking with Brooklyn Paper, Szuszkiewicz denied that he’s a QAnon supporter and said he posted QAnon content to gain traction to his page.
“I’m not that familiar with QAnon to begin with,” he said. “They’re hashtags; hashtags get people more views on social media. I also put Antifa and Black Lives Matter hashtags, that doesn’t mean I support Antifa and Black Lives Matter.”
However, the candidate added that a lot of the mainstream media’s reporting on QAnon and its leader, Q, is inaccurate.
“There’s a lot of false information being put out there,” he said. “A lot of what is supposedly QAnon is inaccurate information. So who knows what’s actually from Q and what isn’t.”
When it comes to the country’s coronavirus response, Szuskiewicz, who works freelance as a financial broker and trucker, has criticized face masks and thinks the state should reopen, he said.
“All businesses are essential because they’re people’s livelihood,” he said, adding he believes in herd immunity for non-immunocompromised people. “It’s a disease that has a 99.8 percent survival rate, so it’s not the Black Plague. Obviously, it’s more deadly than the flu.”
A recent Instagram post, which shows the candidate speaking to a crowd of unmasked New Yorkers at a “Global Freedom Rally,” uses the hashtags “sheep” and “plandemic.”
Szuszkiewicz also incurred criticism when he posted pictures of himself at the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally on the Capitol lawn, where he watched then-President Trump speak. Szuszkiewicz didn’t storm the Capitol, and said that he believed it’s possible that members of Antifa could have staged the insurrection.
“There’s rumors that Antifa was behind the storming,” he said, although many of the rioters have refuted the claim themselves. “I don’t know what to believe … I don’t think it was incited by Donald Trump, that’s for sure.”
Szuszkiewicz is the fifth candidate to jump into the race for District 47, where candidates Alec Brook-Krasny, Steven Patzer, Ari Kagan, and Joe Packer are vying for the Democratic nomination in June. Szuszkiewicz is the first Republican to enter the race, according to the Campaign Finance Board.