Looking At The Field To Replace Deutsch (Updated)

With popular term-limited City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest Midwood) rumored to be eyeing a run for Borough President in 2021, candidates possibly looking to replace him are either already jockeying for position or could be in the near future.

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch

The 48th Council District is very diverse with a substantial number of Russian speakers, Orthodox Jews, Chinese, Pakistani, Turkish and Uzbek immigrants, in addition to older Irish, Italian and secular Jews amongst others. It also is among the most conservative in all of Brooklyn.

So with no further adieu, here are the potential candidates either rumored to be eyeing a run or that KCP would like to see run:

Ari Kagan: The current Democratic District Leader in the 45th Assembly district and leader of the Bay Democrats  Club. In addition, Kagan serves as a community affairs liaison to City Comptroller Scott Stringer and hosts a radio program on the influential Davidzon Russian radio. Kagan is no stranger to this district as he lost in a four-way Democratic primary to Deutsch in 2013.

Ari Kagan
Democrat District leader Ari Kagan

Tova Chatzinoff-Rosenfeld: Deutch’s communication director and right hand. Chatzinoff-Rosenfield is personable and very knowledgable on the issues. She is young, energetic and has both the experience to do the job and is personable enough to break the mold to become the first orthodox Jewish woman city council member from Brooklyn since Susan Alter was elected in 1977.

David Heskiel: A police liaison/chaplain between the NYPD and the various Jewish groups in the district, he is of Sephardic descent and currently works for Deutsch. In addition, he works in the real estate industry. It is interesting to note that much of the district overlaps with that of Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz – and the assemblyman’s late wife Lena was of Sephardic descent so to this day he maintains cordial relations with that community and Heskiel being Orthodox and Sephardic might benefit from this. 

Jason Koppel: The former chief of staff to convicted felon and former State Sen. Carl Kruger, whose old district has been divided and absorbed primarily by Senators Simcha Felder and Andrew Gounardes. Koppel is very bright and personable. He now works for The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as northeast political director and has to navigate many relationships between members of Congress, AIPAC leadership, local communities, donors and others. Especially in this time of a small minority members of Congress supporting BDS, his workload must have gotten higher. 

Lenny Markh: The chief of staff for Cymbrowitz is a Russian speaking Jew who helps the assemblyman navigate the various relationships that are vital for him to succeed and is responsive to community complaints and issues and is a known entity in the area. Lenny is married to Mariya Yudkevich who used to work for the late Lew Fidler so the couple appears politically connected to the county Democratic Party leadership. 

Yelena Makhnin: The Brighton Beach Business Improvement District (BID) director is a very active and hands-on. She is the soul for the commercial heart of the “Little Odessa” neighborhood of Brighton Beach, one can make the case that she is the mayor of this little ethnic enclave as many go to her with complaints seeking resolution. She too is a Russian speaker and has name recognition 

Boris Noble:  Formerly the Russian speaking and Jewish liaison for former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Noble attended local yeshivas and then graduated with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Political Science from Brooklyn College. His career has had a housing focus to it as he served as the housing director at Midwood Development Corp and worked on anti-foreclosure projects in the area, before going to work for Markowitz.

Theresa Scavo: The CB 15 chair has long-time connections to the area and ran an impressive campaign back in 2013. Her appeal is probably strongest amongst longer time residents who tend to be more on the conservative spectrum of the Democratic Party.

Steve Saperstein: As mentioned this is a pretty conservative area where President Trump did well, and that puts Saperstein, who ran and lost against Deutsch in 2017 as a Republican, but who has recently changed his party affiliation to Democrat. Saperstein also ran and lost to Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus last year. That said, Saperstein is not going away and as often seen in politics, many a successful politician became that was through sheer persistence.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to note that Steve Saperstein is now a Democrat and that if elected, Tova Chatzinoff-Rosenfeld would not be the first Orthodox Jewish woman from Brooklyn to be elected o the city council.

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