While Ben Akselrod was narrowly defeated in his bid to unseat Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz at polls last Thursday, his ally and ticket-mate Ari Kagan emerged victorious in his campaign for district leader.
Kagan, a Russian-American reporter and activist, bested 24-year incumbent Mike Geller, head of the Highway Democratic Club, for the male district leader position in the 45th Assembly District. Kagan took home 1,818 – or 61.63 percent – of the paltry 2,950 votes cast, according to unofficial counts released by the Board of Elections. Geller received 686 votes less, for a total of 1,132, or 38.37 percent.
“I want to thank all my supporters and I promise to work hard on behalf of all neighborhoods and communities of our great and diverse 45 Assembly District,” Kagan wrote to Sheepshead Bites.
The district leader position, listed on the ballot as the Member of the State Democratic Committee, is an unpaid, nongovernmental representative. District leaders help pick the party’s chairman, appoint judges and hire poll workers. Though often under the radar for most voters, district leaders can play a pivotal role in local elections, helping organize grassroots efforts and sometimes directing the support – and campaign coffers – of the state or county party. Every assembly district has a male and female district leader.
The results of this election have not yet been certified by the Board of Elections. They are unofficial results from initial counts of ballots at the booths. This week, the board will add in numbers from ballot write-ins, absentee ballots and paper affidavits.