The race to succeed term-limited City Councilman Vincent Gentile — who has represented the 43rd District for more than 13 years — is starting to heat up.
No campaign accounts have been set up yet, and the elections won’t be underway for more than a year (November 2017), but here is a breakdown of the Democrats and Republicans who are rumored to be eying the seat.
Justin Brannan (D)
The former chief of staff to Gentile and co-founder of Bay Ridge Democrats, Brannan is widely seen as a frontrunner in the race.
Brannan has lived many lives — inspiring some colorful New York Times profiles — from touring with his Xaverian High School band in the 1990s, to a stint managing wealth at Bear Sterns, to an eventful radio announcer career, to creating the Bay Ridge Department of Tourism. These days, he holds a job in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. A familiar face at both community board meetings and online Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst parenting forums, Brannan has become a community ambassador of sorts for Bay Ridge.
While he has yet to declare his candidacy, Brannan told us he plans to “continue to serve the community that I have always called home.”
Linda Sarsour (D)
The president of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, and the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, Sarsour has made a name for herself as a political and social activist for religious and racial issues. She is a vocal supporter of Palestinian human rights, and has been arrested during police brutality protests, making her a target for Bob Capano — a businessman who has confirmed he is running for the City Council seat as a republican.
“Let’s be clear: Bob Capano is trying to rebuild his failed political career on my back,” Sarsour told the Brooklyn Eagle, referencing Capano’s past losses in both the City Council and Assembly. “He has political aspirations and he’s using me as his platform to give himself relevancy.”
Political insiders says Sarsour isn’t likely to run, but she has told Brooklyn Paper she may present another Arab American candidate from the district.
Bob Capano (R)
Considered the most far right of the three potential GOP candidates, Capano is the only State Islander of the bunch, and the only one to confirm that he intends to run for the seat. An outspoken Donald Trump supporter, Capano has been slinging mud early on against potential challengers, including fellow Republican John Quaglione for voting for John Kasich in New York’s GOP presidential primary.
He’s also called for Sarsour to step down from her role in Community Board 10, because of her participation in an anti-police demonstration outside of Gracie Mansion. He has also been criticizing Assemblyman Peter Abbate, who is rumored to be eyeing the City Council seat.
Presumably, he would have to move back to Brooklyn in order to represent the district.
John Quaglione (R)
Also on the Republican side, is John Quaglione, who has been a top aide to Senator Marty Golden since the senator’s City Council days, and ran a fierce challenge for Gentile’s seat in 2013. While he lost by nearly a 30 percent margin, the race was considered close by Brooklyn standards.
As a father of two young children, Quaglione has focused his platform on what he describes as declining quality of life in the neighborhood. While Quaglione told us he is not yet ready to announce his candidacy, he continues to be concerned about graffiti, sanitation issues, homelessness, and poorly maintained parks in the district.
“I have been watching closely the actions of the current City Council and the Mayor, and like a lot of people, I believe this city is on the wrong track, and you have to stop the bleeding,” he said. “And that comes along with different people, with different outlooks.”
Assemblyman Peter Abbate Jr. (D)
Long-time Assemblyman Peter Abbate has hinted at a City Council run. Elected to the state assembly in 1986, he remains well liked among his constituents, and despite being in Albany half the time, somehow makes it to almost every community board meeting.
One motivation for Abbate to run for City Council before he retires is that it would give his pension a boost, since his base salary would increase from its current $79,500 per year to the $148,500 City Council salary.
Abbate would not confirm any plans to run for City Council telling us he is focussed on his current role in Albany. “I’m focused on the people of Assembly District 49,” he said.
Liam McCabe (R)
A staffer to Republican Congressman Daniel Donovan and founder of the Brooklyn South Conservative Club, McCabe has been a long-time advocate for a comprehensive and compassionate approach to addressing homelessness. The issue is deeply personal for McCabe, whose father died a homeless veteran on the streets of Bay Ridge in 2005.
Previously he was a top aide to disgraced ex-Congressman Michael Grimm, when he made headlines for calling the mayor an “asshole” on social media, and then doubling down on that characterization of de Blasio. He was eventually temporarily suspended, after he was arrested for assaulting his son who got in trouble for smoking weed in school.
McCabe, told us he was taking a “good, hard look” at the City Council race. “My friends and family are suggesting I run. And I think I owe it to myself to strongly consider it,” he said.
Kevin Peter Carroll (D)
Carroll is the male district leader for the 64th Assembly District and a staffer for Councilman Stephen Levin. Since taking on these roles five years ago, he has prioritized unifying Bay Ridge, environmental issues, and redistricting reform as his central legislative issues.
Regarding a run for City Council, he said, “I’ve made no announcements yet, but it is something I’m looking at. A lot of people have urged me to run.”
While he reportedly has wide support in the Democratic party, Carroll had an awkward moment a few months ago, when he vouched for Betty Anne Canizio as his co-leader against incumbent Joanne Seminara, even after she was removed from her post at the Board of Elections, amid a massive voter roll purge. Canizio ended up withdrawing from the district leader race.
Josephine Beckman (D)
Beckmann, the no-nonsense district manager at Community Board 10 (CB10) is rumored to be running for the City Council seat. Beckmann could not be reached for comment in time for publication, but sources told Kings County Politics that with two kids in college and a cushy job at CB 10, she is unlikely to run.
[Additional reporting by Rachel Silberstein]
[Update September 1 10:29am]: It was previously stated that Liam McCabe was removed from his post, but it was a temporary suspension. Changes have been made to reflect that.