Coney Island’s Frontus Eyes Harris Assembly Seat


The list of potential candidates continues to grow in the race to replace Assemblymember Pam Harris (D-Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights), who is facing federal corruption charges relating to money she allegedly pocketed from state and city funds earmarked for the non-profit she ran.

KCP has learned that long time Coney Island resident and community leader, Mathylde Frontus, Ph.D., 40, is a second-generation New Yorker whose parents immigrated from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is eyeing a potential run.

Dr. Mathylde Frontus

The community leader has lived in the district for 33 years and currently teaches advocacy and social justice at New York University (NYU) and Columbia University.

“I sincerely hope that the federal charges against the Assembly Member are found untrue,” said Frontus. “It is extremely important that we let due process carry out and let all the facts come to light.

“Nevertheless, I will continue to monitor the situation. If the seat becomes vacant, I would be interested in running given my long history of serving the community in various capacities. It would be an honor to further advocate for the hardworking people of the district,” she added.

From 2004 through 2016 Frontus founded three not-for-profit organizations, one of which, the Urban Neighborhood Services, is now under the umbrella of a larger community-based organization –– Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island.

As for anyone making a comparison between her and the embattled Harris, whose charges relate to her non-profit, the Coney Island Generation Gap, Frontus said the residents of Coney Island are familiar with her work.

“My non-profit was a brick and mortar organization which had a lot of oversight,” said Frontus. “I also built two coalitions from scratch as a community organizer. My record literally speaks for itself and is open to scrutiny.”

In addition to her role as an educator, Frontus also operates two small consulting firms, one of which provides strategic planning to neighborhood institutions and not-for-profit agencies while the other focuses on mental health agencies.

As a Haitian-American, Frontus had comments on reports claiming President Trump referred to certain regions of the world as “shithole countries.”

“President Trump’s recent comments about Haiti, El Salvador and African countries were disgraceful and indecent,” said Frontus. “Such remarks are well beneath the dignity the office of the Presidency of the United States.  The comments were also hurtful and reflect a lack of compassion and empathy.”

Incumbent Harris has not stepped down from her assembly seat despite rumors that colleagues have urged her to do so. She pleaded not guilty to all charges. Harris faces re-election this year in the face of her criminal charges.