Incumbents clash in Brooklyn's District 47 Council election

It’s a newly reshaped City Council district that could pit two incumbents against each other. District 47 in Brooklyn was redrawn to now include Bay Ridge, Coney Island, Bath Beach and Sea Gate, following a decennial redistricting based on the Census. 

Currently, the district is represented by Councilman Ari Kagan, but now the district will also include parts of Councilman Justin Brannan’s Bay Ridge district as well.

The two would have likely faced off in the Democratic primary, but late last year Kagan switched from Democrat to Republican. This means if Kagan wins the Republican primary, he will be facing off against Brannan in the general election. Brannan is now running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Brannan chairs the powerful Finance Committee, so many eyes are watching this race.

Kagan says he switched from Democrat to Republican because of how the Democratic Party in New York has been approaching crime.

"I strongly believe the Democratic Party doesn't really care about public safety," Kagan said. "I strongly believe that Democrats are doing everything possible to make sure that New York City in particular is less safe every day."

Kagan emigrated to New York with his family from Belarus in 1993 and for 21 years Kagan hosted a Russian language radio and TV show. 

Republicans made some gains in southern Brooklyn last year and now Kagan says he believes he will be able to ride this red wave through November. 

"Every crime, every violation should have consequences, not like right now in New York City by the way," Kagan explained. "If you break the rules you have to be punished. Right now everything goes in New York City. Everybody can do whatever they want. Total chaos in my opinion."

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There are two other candidates running for the Republican nomination.

Anna Belfiore-Delfaus is a mother of 3 who was raised in the Brooklyn area and describes herself as a city public school teacher.

She says her ability to work with the other side and her relationship with the NYPD is what makes her a unique candidate. 

"No matter what neighborhood you're in, in New York City, the issues go across the board," Belfiore-Delfaus explained.

Belfiore-Delfaus agrees that the biggest issue facing this district is quality of life concerns.

"Everywhere you go there's a smell of marijuana," Belfiore-Delfaus said. "You want to take your kids to the park, and you can't because there are needles everywhere, and it's just it's becoming a very unsafe environment."

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The other challenger is Avery Pereira who taught as a special education teacher for several years.

"My mother was also a special ed teacher for many years as well," Pereira explained. "She passed away years ago, but I just wanted to follow on her legacy."

Pereira is a millennial who is running a grassroots campaign and says people are ready to see a new face in politics.

Pereira also says one of the biggest issues facing the district is crime and if elected he would work to increase the number of officers patrolling the district.

"We have a plan in place to fully support police, make sure they have all the resources and funding they need to make a community safe again," Pereira said.

Now each candidate has had their share of controversy.

Recently the city’s campaign finance board announced it is reviewing a complaint against Kagan which alleges he has used his radio spot for free campaign advertisements. Kagan has denied these allegations. 

Kagan was also stripped of his committee chairmanship after switching parties.

FOX 5 NY asked Kagan how he can assure voters he can get the job done, even in the minority party.

"Nobody can stop me from going to any committee hearing," Kagan said. "The most important thing for voters and for my community in South Brooklyn, is to be represented by a person who cares about them, by elected officials who listen to them who knows that they're struggling. This economy, public safety, quality of life - that’s the most important for them, not a party label."

Belfiore-Delfaus is also facing some criticism after it came out that she is currently living on Staten Island, although she says she also has a residence in Brooklyn and her kids go to school there.

On top of that, a Daily News article accused her of embellishing her background, pointing out that she hasn’t been paid as a public school teacher since 2015, despite tweets and interviews that seem to suggest that she was working as a teacher throughout the pandemic.

Belfiore-Delfaus says she is still on maternity leave.

"I consciously chose to stay home and raise my kids, and I've been attacked for that," Belfiore-Delfaus said. "And I was told I shouldn't call myself a teacher. If a lawyer retires, if a doctor retires, if a marine retires they will always be what they are."

Pereira also faces somewhat similar questions over his role as a teacher but says he has been teaching up until February when he then decided to quit to focus on his campaign.

He also faces questions about his limited experience.

"We’ve had the same politics in power for so many years, we've had the same policies over and over again, and it’s just not working," Pereira said.

There are a few days left of early voting and Election Day is June 27.