Contenders for Domenic Recchia’s Council seat clobber each other

Coney City Council candidates clash

Brooklyn Daily
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The candidates vying for Domenic Recchia’s City Council seat seem to agree on everything — especially that their opponent is totally unqualified.

Neighborhood activist Todd Dobrin and City Council financial analyst John Lisyanskiy — both Democrats hoping to replace the term-limited Recchia (D–Coney Island) — are on the same side when it comes to favoring a wooden Boardwalk over concrete and plastic decking, keeping casinos out of the People’s Playground, and restoring Sandy-smashed vital services. But accusing each other of being out of touch or delusional, both argue that the other is completely unqualified to represent the district, which includes Coney Island, Seagate, and parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Bath Beach.

Dobrin, founder and president of the community group Friends of the Boardwalk, alleged that Lisyanskiy doesn’t have the vital experience of working with residents of the district, and campaigning for local issues like keeping the wooden promenade and keeping out gambling parlors.

“He has no track record in the district,” said Dobrin, who grew up in Gravesend and now lives in Seagate. “The district wants somebody who is from the people, for the people and with the people, and the choice of the people should be the voice of the people.”

Lisyanskiy, born in the Ukraine and raised in Bensonhurst, fired back with the accusation that Dobrin is ignorant and unaccomplished.

“I think he’s delusional about his having a track record,” the Community Board 13 member said. “What has Friends of the Boardwalk actually done? He’s an empty suit.”

Lisyanskiy claimed that when Dobrin was still a CB13 member, he appeared unfamiliar with basic procedures like making an inquiry to the Parks Department about changes to the Boardwalk. By contrast, Lisyanskiy touted his own experience working under Recchia and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D–Chelsea).

“You want to bring someone in who understands deeply how the government works. My experience sets me apart,” Lisyanskiy said.

Dobrin defended Friends of the Boardwalk’s record, claiming his group had awarded $50,000 in lifeguard scholarships and organized numerous Boardwalk cleanups, as well as signed on to a lawsuit to prevent the city from going forward with its plan to convert the iconic seaside walkway to concrete.

He shot back with accusations that Lisyanskiy had failed to testify against the switch to artificial materials at the city hearings, and had been silent on issues like the proposed Coney Island casino before making the decision to run. Dobrin also claimed Lisyanskiy rarely attended CB13 meetings in 2008 and 2009, during crucial debates over the rezoning of the People’s Playground for new development.

“Why didn’t he stand up and testify when we needed him? Where was he? Where has be been for the last 12 years?” Dobrin demanded.

But former CB13 chairwoman Marion Cleaver said that Lisyanskiy had a good excuse for his absences during those years, since he was recovering from a skiing injury, and he was far from the only person on the panel who failed to show up.

“There were many board members whose attendance rate was not good,” said Cleaver, who lives outside the district.

As of the end of January, Dobrin is beating Lisyanskiy in the money game.

The electrician’s campaign has just under $58,000 in the bank, compared to the financial analyst’s $28,000.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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