Archive for the tag 'primary elections'

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

With two weeks to go before the September 9 primary elections, the Democratic candidates for the 45th Assembly District will attend a candidates night at the Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting on Wednesday.

The race is a reprise of the 2012 elections, with incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz fending off a challenge from Ben Akselrod. It’s been a particularly quiet race so far, although the candidates have traded barbs on such compelling issues as nominating petitions.

That could change during the 8:00 p.m. meeting at P.S. 195 (131 Irwin Street), where the two are both confirmed to attend and will face questions from the public about their views on various issues.

The group has hosted several debates and candidates nights for recent elections, and regularly asks tough policy questions submitted from group members and the broader public.

President Judy Baron emphasized to Sheepshead Bites that this event would be no different, and that all are invited to attend no matter where they live in the district. Questions can be submitted for consideration at the beginning of the event.

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

Conservative Democrat Ben Akselrod appears to be launching his second attempt to unseat incumbent Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, recently filing papers with the state to form a campaign committee.

Akselrod mounted his first challenge to Cymbrowitz in 2012, rising from relative obscurity to a credible candidate with the assistance of his close friend Ari Kagan. Akselrod came close to defeating Cymbrowitz in the Democratic primary, coming less than 300 votes shy of victory. He continued on to the general election on the Independence line, making it a three-way race with Republican Russ Gallo. Cymbrowitz won the general with a wide margin.

Akselrod and his supporters led a hard-knuckled campaign, in which the incumbent was criticized for not opposing a mosque just outside of his district, voting for a bill that encouraged tolerance education in schools including tolerance of homosexuals, and, just days before the primary election, marrying a woman who is not Jewish.

The race brought citywide media attention after Akselrod’s campaign released a flier with a typo claiming that the assemblyman “allowed crime to go up over 50% in the negrohood,” a claim that was factually incorrect regardless of the typo.

Cymbrowitz stayed mum for most of the campaign, leading one outlet to say he was running a “gentleman’s campaign,” but eventually spoke out against “vicious” tactics two weeks after the primary.

Although it’s widely expected, it’s still not fully clear whether Akselrod will run this year. Because of illness, he did not attend last night’s meeting of the Bay Democrats, the club where he serves as president and where he is likely to announce.

District Leader Ari Kagan, a close friend and adviser to Akselrod, told Sheepshead Bites that the papers were simply the first steps to forming an “exploratory committee” to determine whether Akselrod will run.

“He told me it’s an exploratory committee. When he decides 100 percent, he’ll have a big kickoff. Like in May, when the weather is nice,” said Kagan.

Akselrod, however, sounded very much like a candidate in an interview yesterday with Politicker, which first reported on the campaign filings.

“I certainly hope to win. Look, the status quo can’t continue forever. I think I have more energy, more desire to do the job,” Akselrod told Politicker. “There are still many problems with Hurricane Sandy recovery … It’s a year and a half later and we’re still talking about things that should have been done 15 days after the storm hit.”

Akselrod did not return a request to comment in time for publication. We’ll update this post if we here back from him.


Actually, I suppose it’s all quiet at all polls for now. We’ve stopped by about six today, and few reported more than 70 voters per electoral district. But that’ll be heating up as the evening draws near, and people head to the booths after work.

Meanwhile, our woman in the field, Brooklyn Independent Television’s Natasha Gaspard, found a rare breed in the Orthodox section of Midwood: a liberal voter.

Debra Burke was one of the few who have so far hit the 1215 Avenue O voting site, and remarked about how she’s a bit of an odd duck for the area.

“I’m actually am on the other side of the issues because I happen to be liberal. This is a very conservative neighborhood and I happen to be liberal,” she said. “I believe in public schools and equal civil rights.”

Burke didn’t say who she voted for, but did say she had been turned off a bit by the pamphleteering in the past few weeks.

“I’ve been so annoyed by all of the phone calls and pamphlets. Right now, I don’t really like any of them,” she said.

Polls are open until 9:00 p.m. tonight. You can find your polling site here.

This post is published in partnership with B Civil, Brooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal. BIT producer Natasha Gaspard will be sending on-the-ground updates to us throughout the day from various polling sites in an effort to keep readers informed of polling conditions, and remind them to vote.


Tzipporah Simon being interviewed about her vote by BIT.

The following post is published in partnership with B Civil, Brooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal.

Polls opened at 6:00 a.m. today, and the first round of voters have already pulled the lever at their local voting site.

Poll workers at the St. Mark School poll site (2602 East 19th Street) told Sheepshead Bites that it’s been a quiet morning with few problems – and few voters. As of 10:15 a.m., turnout was beginning to increase.

Tzipporah Simon of Sheepshead Bay was one of the first to pull the lever there this morning.

“I voted for Theresa Scavo. I think that when she was a Community Board leader, she was passionate and remained passionate,” Simon said.

The choice was more difficult in the mayoral elections, Simon said.

“For Mayor, I was kind of undecided. I made a begrudging choice. Mayor is a tough call this year,” she said.

In contrast to the calm scene at St. Mark School, a reader tells us the I.S. 381 (1599 East 22nd Street) polling site in Midwood is chaotic.

“I was sent to the wrong table, there was poll worker confusion,” our reader said. “No superviser was sent to train the workers.”

He said when he finally tried to vote his machine was broken, which spurred an argument with poll workers. Police pulled him aside to calm him down, and moments later a poll worker came over to ask when his break would be.

Please e-mail tips [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com as you vote and tell us about the conditions at your voting site.

Polls are open until 9:00 p.m. tonight. You can find your polling site here.

This post is published in partnership with B CivilBrooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal. BIT producer Natasha Gaspard will be sending on-the-ground updates to Sheepshead Bites throughout the day from various polling sites in an effort to keep readers informed of polling conditions, and remind them to vote.


Natraj Bhushan

Vying for the Democratic nomination to replace term-limited Michael Nelson in the City Council’s 48th District, Natraj Bhushan is making technology the cornerstone of his platform, saying that a councilman’s office should be a hub for information and innovation.

The 27-year-old Brighton Beach native, son of an Indian father and Pakistani mother, has provided legal assistance to constituents in Nelson’s office during and after Superstorm Sandy. He later moved on to providing services at Councilmember Leory Comerie’s office. His experience in those roles, he said, has inspired him to conceive of software to better empower residents through adding transparency and efficiency to constituent services.

“I believe, if you empower the community to solve its own problems, you don’t need us [elected officials]. We’re in the background. I want to de-emphasize the individual and emphasize the community,” he told Sheepshead Bites. “And I think the way you do that is to give everybody the resources. Give them the information.”

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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.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz eked out a primary victory yesterday, defeating Ben Akselrod by a narrow margin and moving ahead to a rare general election battle.

Cymbrowitz earned 244 votes more than his opponent, a margin of just seven percent of the 3,304 votes cast in the election. Cymbrowitz garnered 53.7 percent versus Akselrod’s 46.3 percent, according to results published by the New York Times.

Brooklyn Daily was at the Highway Democratic Club’s election night party, and here’s the scene they described:

Tensions were high at the High-Way Democratic Club’s results party on McDonald Avenue as Community Board 15 chairwoman Teresa Scavo called out the results as they trickled in.

Cymbrowitz appeared confident as he thanked friends and supporters, but left his own party before the vote was called, and refused to speculate on the outcome.

“I think we’re going to have to wait until all the votes are counted,” Cymbrowitz said, refusing to comment further.

Akselrod a former CB15 district manager, would not comment or concede, claiming that the vote was too close to call.

Cymbrowitz will now face off against Republican Russ Gallo in November’s general elections.

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

In the days before today’s face-off between incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz and challenger Ben Akselrod, it appears the campaign has taken a personal turn, with Akselrod supporters turning the assemblyman’s marriage to a non-Jewish woman into a political issue.

The Daily News reports:

Syrian Jews in the 45th district have been swamped with emails slamming Cymbrowitz for breaking Jewish law by marrying Vilma Huertas after his Jewish wife, Lena, died in August 2000 following a long battle with cancer.

“Cymbrowitz does not follow [RELIGIOUS]community values,” one email from BrooklynMessage said.

The supporters are likely tied to challenger Ben Akselrod’s campaign, multiple sources familiar with the race said.

“The campaign is not very conventional,” an Akselrod source said.

“It’s definitely organized,” a Brooklyn political pundit added. “It’s not the average Joe saying they feel very strongly about a particular viewpoint. They use fake email addresses and names to try to get the negative message out.”

The e-mails also point out that Cymbrowitz has not opposed the proposed mosque on Voorhies Avenue, which Akselrod has claimed is tied to a radical organization he incorrectly said was “outlawed” by the United States. Cymbrowitz has not taken a stand for or against the mosque; its location is outside of his district.

Akselrod declined to comment about the e-mails.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Cymbrowitz told the Daily News. “When a candidate doesn’t have a record to stand on the only thing he can do is be negative.”

Well, I just got back from casting my vote in today’s primary election, and, as of 9:15 a.m., only five other people had voted at my polling station.

Let’s pick it up, Sheepshead Bay! Let’s prove to New York City and New York State that our area has a voice and we will use it!

For many in our coverage area, the only races going on are the primary battles between sitting Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and his upstart opponent Ben Akselrod, as well as the race for male district leader, between incumbent Mike Geller and challenger Ari Kagan.

Polls will be open to 9:00 p.m.

To find out if you’re eligible to vote, where your polling station is, and what races are in your district, use New York City’s Poll Site Locator & Sample Ballot Display tool.


After nearly five days of silence since Sheepshead Bites first reported on the mailing of thousands of campaign fliers in which Assembly candidate Ben Akselrod claimed crime is up in the “negrohood,” the candidate behind the mailer has issued an apology calling the comment a “typo.”

Akselrod sent out the following statement yesterday evening:

I was deeply saddened and troubled to learn that a mailer sent out recently by my campaign for New York State Assembly, contained a typo which could be misconstrued as a racial slur. As the candidate, I take full responsibility for this inadvertent error and I am sorry to anyone who was offended by it.

For the record, to accuse me or my campaign of intentionally using racially inflammatory language is an insult. As a person who faced the scourge of discrimination for being born Jewish in the Soviet Union, I reject any form of racial and ethnic bias. I have always stood strongly and proudly for combating discrimination against any individual, irrespective of gender, race or religion.

It is very unfortunate that instead of focusing on the real problems of our neighborhoods, supporters of my opponent are focusing their energy on looking for orthographical errors and typos in our press releases and mailings. The facts are clear: this year, crime rate in the 61st Precinct went up dramatically and the current Assemblyman did nothing to stop this dangerous crime wave. This is the issue we should be talking about. By refusing to debate me, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz is denying voters an opportunity to hear firsthand about our differences and to make an educated choice on September 13.

Neighbors around the district received the mailer on Thursday, August 23. After our report on Friday, the campaign treasurer for Friends of Ben Akselrod contacted us, saying he never gave permission for his address to be used in the flier. He resigned Monday evening.

Ben Akselrod faces off against Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz in the Democratic primary on September 13. The winner will face a challenge from Republican Russ Gallo in November.

CORRECTION (11:58 p.m.): Speaking of typos, the original version of this story introduced Akselrod as “Assemblyman Ben Akselrod.” We meant to write “Assembly candidate Ben Akselrod.” The post has been updated.

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