The first thing one notices when entering Democratic District Leader Margarita Kagan‘s Manhattan Beach home is that her door is always open – literally.
“People tell her she should close it all the time that strangers might walk in, but that’s the way Margarita is. People always coming in and out, some with local political concerns and others for whom she gives music lessons, ” said her male Co-District Leader Ari Kagan (the two are not related, but both originally come from Belarus).
And so it went over the weekend as KCP went to profile Margarita Kagan who was first elected to the non-paid 45th Assembly District party leadership position in 2014. She will face Adina Sash in the primary.
“My main role in this position is volunteering and helping people with concerns and navigating government channels,” said Margarita Kagan.
Ms. Kagan explained how the district, which includes Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest and Midwood, is predominantly immigrants. While many of the constituents (herself included) immigrated as Jews from the former Soviet Union, the district increasingly has large amounts of Chinese and Pakistani Muslim immigrants with all sharing common interests such as the need of a pipeline into government services, she said.
As for Margarita, she immigrated to the U.S. in 1991 and moved to Brooklyn in 1993.
And as soon as she arrived, Margarita rolled up her sleeves doing community service work including a 10-year stint as the Shorefront Y Director of Cultural Affairs, and a year in 2010 as the Community Partnership Coordinator for the U.S. Census Bureau.
Aside from Margarita’s community organizing, she has a strong educational background in music and music history from the conservatory of music in Belarus. As such, she is a former teacher at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and has produced a number of festivals of Jewish and Israeli culture, and taught music to hundreds of talented Brooklyn kids.
Both Margarita and Ari Kagan also argue that they working closely together in partnership as district leaders is also a plus such as when they co-hosted a rally against hate and anti-Semitism – at Holocaust Memorial Park in Sheepshead Bay.
But perhaps their main achievement is their co-founding of the Bay Democrats in 2014. The political club has quickly become one of the most active clubs in the borough, and a must stop for anybody running for political office.
It is this work that has brought such endorsement as from the local City Councilman Chaim Deutsch.
And also reflecting the district, both Margarita and Ari Kagan consider themselves more moderate as Democrats as opposed to the blue-wave progressive Democrats that are gaining traction in some parts of the party.
“I’m a moderate Democrat in some sense, but when it comes to helping seniors and people with disabilities and immigrants, I’m very liberal, ” Margarita Kagan said.
The Democratic Primary election is Sept. 13. (Photographs by Tsubasa Berg)