Monique Chandler-Waterman wins East Flatbush Assembly special election, defeats Adams pick Reid

Supporters surround Monique Chandler-Waterman at the launch of her campaign earlier this year.
Jack Desa

Monique Chandler-Waterman won the May 24 special election to fill the vacant 58th Assembly District seat in East Flatbush, with the Democratic nominee trouncing third-party opponent Hercules Reid, who had the support of Mayor Eric Adams, by over 60 points.

With 99% of scanners reporting Wednesday morning according to the Board of Elections, Chandler-Waterman, the Democratic and Working Families nominee, had won 79.53% of votes as compared to Reid’s 18.08%. Monique Allen-Davy, the Republican and Conservative nominee, holds 2.31%.

“I am humbled by the fact that the community has placed its trust in me,” Chandler-Waterman, who most recently worked for the city’s Test and Trace Corps and co-founded local nonprofit East Flatbush Village, said in a statement. “As the new Assemblywoman representing the 58th District I pledge to work with the community and do everything in my power to address the needs of our residents. I spent my life in service to this community and I will work even harder to ensure affordable housing, equitable education and healthcare, and that we stop the violence plaguing our streets.”

By winning the special election, Chandler-Waterman will hold the Assembly seat, which encompasses parts of East Flatbush, Brownsville, and Canarsie, at least until the end of the year. She and Reid are also running against one another in next month’s Democratic primary; the winner of that race will contest the November election — where they are heavily favored in the overwhelmingly Democratic district — and assume office next January.

The seat opened up after longtime Assemblymember Nick Perry was confirmed by the US Senate as Ambassador to Jamaica; his resignation was timed such that it triggered a special election just weeks before the June 28 primary. Chandler-Waterman won the Democratic nomination in a vote of the district’s County Committee in April, and had the backing of Perry, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Borough President Antonio Reynoso, and City Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse along with the Working Families Party.

But while Chandler-Waterman had the substantial advantages inherent to the Democratic ballot line, she did not enjoy the benefits of the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s campaign apparatus such as its canvassers, campaign literature, and get-out-the-vote operations. Multiple sources close to the campaign and to the county party, most of whom requested anonymity to discuss sensitive party matters, said that party chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn took pains to prevent Chandler-Waterman from winning the nomination, but was unable to coalesce County Committee members around her chosen candidate, District Leader Cory Provost.

Bichotte Hermelyn declined to campaign for Chandler-Waterman or even publicly endorse her despite her being the nominee of her party, and the party provided little in the way of resources to her campaign. Four sources posited this was due to longstanding enmity between the two, dating back to when Chandler-Waterman unsuccessfully challenged Bichotte Hermelyn ally Farah Louis in a 2019 City Council special election (Reid also ran for that seat but didn’t make the ballot).

“It is a stone disgrace when the Democratic chair of the party goes into hiding rather than to announce she supports the duly nominated Democratic candidate in the election,” said Howard Graubard, an election attorney who represented Chandler-Waterman’s campaign.

Through a spokesperson, Bichotte Hermelyn declined to comment either on the allegations or on Chandler-Waterman’s victory. The rep said she has no candidate preference in next month’s primary.

Late in the race, Mayor Eric Adams endorsed his longtime aide Hercules Reid on a third-party line.File Photo by Ben Brachfeld

Later on, Reid, a longtime Adams aide who had been running in the Democratic primary since last year, jumped into the special with his former boss’ support, running on the “Education is Key” ballot line. Adams is a longtime ally of Bichotte Hermelyn and of the county party. In a statement, Reid said that the odds had been stacked against him in the special after County Committee selected Chandler-Waterman, and said he is looking forward to the primary on June 28.

“Everyone knows that June 28th is what matters most, and I remain focused on bringing effective and dedicated leadership to this community,” Reid said. “Despite long odds and efforts to kick our campaign off the ballot, we worked hard in the face of a daunting challenge. This incredibly low-turnout special election result will only be temporary. I will not back down against insiders trying to install one of their own in this seat. We are going to build on our strong showing yesterday to emerge victorious next month. We’re not done yet and I’m excited for the work ahead.”

A campaign advisor to the mayor did not respond to a request for comment.

As usual, turnout in the special election was abysmally low. Just 2,384 votes had been counted as of Wednesday morning, out of 78,793 registered voters in the district according to the State Board of Elections.