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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002
x-Domenic M. Recchia, Dem 11,531 - 52 percent
Oleg Gutnik, Rep 9,503 - 43 percent
Joseph K. Hochhauser, Ind 647 - 3 percent
Pat Singer, Lib 405 - 2 percent
Cyntha Sanchez, Gre 270 - 1 percent
Domenic M. Recchia 4,509
Susan Lasher 2,999
Alec Brook-Krasny 2,100
Pat Singer 1,620
Inna Stavitsky 1,048
Joseph K. Hochhauser 678
Oleg Gutnik 653
Joseph A. Amato 626
Incumbent: Howard L. Lasher (can't
run in 2001)
- Oleg Gutnick (Rep/Con)
- Joseph Hochhauser (Ind/Wor)
- Dominic Recchia Jr. (Dem)
- Cynthia Sanchez (Gre)
- Pat Singer (Lib)
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
Joseph Amato has not filed
Alec Brook-Krasny has not filed
to Oleg Gutnick
to Joseph Hochhauser
to Susan Lasher
to Domenic Recchia Jr.
to Pat Singer
to Cynthia Sanchez
to Inna Stavitsky
Brian Gotlieb, Alfreida Davis, and Cynthia Sanchez have all been knocked off
the ballot for the Democratic primary. Sanchez will run as a Green party
candidate. Inna Stavitsky was removed from the ballot, then was reinstated
after her appeal. See the Campaign Update for more details. Posted 8/29/01
For Coney Island and Brighton Beach, which make up much of the
47th Council district, the last 150 years have resembled a ride
on the area's famed Cyclone roller coaster --- complete with breathtaking
highs and stomach-churning descents.
The Brooklyn shore once played host to hotels, horse races and
famous, if occasionally tawdry, guests. Elegant art deco apartment
buildings graced Brighton Beach, while its western neighbor boasted
world famous attractions and legendary crowds. But in the 1940s,
businesses began to shut as families went to Jones Beach and other
less crowded summer havens, and the city discouraged commercial
amusements. Large housing projects erected in the 1950s and 1960s
brought poor African-Americans and Hispanics to a neighborhood
where jobs were scarce and the commute to Manhattan long.
In the 1970s, change came again, as the then Soviet Union eased
emigration restrictions and tens of thousands of its citizens,
many from Ukraine, found their way to Brighton Beach where they
could live by the ocean. Today, the 47th District is home to America's
largest concentration of Russians, who have turned Brighton Beach
Avenue into a thriving shopping district where English is barely
heard and stores sell seemingly infinite varieties of pickled
vegetables and smoked fish.
Much of Coney Island remains bleak -- the shabby shopping stalls
along Surf Avenue and the vast housing projects seen in Spike
Lee's "He Got Game." But local business leaders hope that the
new stadium built for the New York Mets minor league Cyclones
baseball team will help the area regain a bit of its former glory.
Meanwhile other parts of the district -- the largely Italian
communities of Gravesend and some sections of Bensonhurst and
private, gated Sea Gate -- have escaped many of the gyrations
of their neighbors.
Despite its diversity, the 47th District looked to be one of
the few in the city with a term limited councilmember that would
not see a heated political campaign in 2001. Democratic District
Leader Marsha Rapaport was running and appeared to have a lock
on the seat.
Then Rapaport died last fall, turning the somnolent race into
one of the city's most hotly contested and confusing contests
-- a campaign where no one seems to know who is running or who
will vote. "It's a horse race," agrees Pat Singer, one of the
candidates, "but I grew up next to Belmont, so I like horse races."
Rapaport's death enticed a number of candidates to enter the
race, including Susan Lasher, wife of the incumbent councilmember,
who says she never would have considered running while Rapaport
Most observers see the district as four pieces: Brighton Beach
with its largely immigrant population; the so-called high rises,
the Mitchell Lama developments at the east end of Coney Island;
lower-income Coney Island; and the northern part, Gravesend and
part of Bensonhurst.
As many as four candidates -- Singer, Alec Brook-Krasny, Inna
Stavitsky and Oleg Gutnick -- are vying for the Brighton Beach
vote. All but Singer, who founded the Brighton Neighborhood Association,
are Russian, leading to speculation that the 47th District, where
about 30 percent of the population is believed to be Russian speaking,
could elect a Russian.
But U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who represents part of the district,
says Russians may not vote in large number. So far, he has said,
there hasn't been "the increases in turnout that we really should
Stavitsky says that is changing and adds, "Last year's election
showed a surge in participation."
Most of the Russians who came in the 1970s were Republicans,
owing partly to the popularity of President Ronald Reagan, whom
they credited with helping bring down the Soviet Union and encouraging
Russian immigration. But, according to Stavitsky, who is a Democrat,
more recent immigrants tend to be Democrats because "people understand
the Democratic line is much closer to the needs of immigrants."
If he runs, Gutnick, a prominent doctor, will be on the Republican
line; the other candidates are all Democrats in what has been
an overwhelmingly Democratic district.
Most of the remaining candidates come from Coney Island or the
high rises, with only one, lawyer and community school board member
Domenic Recchia Jr., from the north part of the district. Because
of that, he says, "the crowded field helps me out."
Susan Lasher says many candidates will find it hard to even get
on the ballot. "You need a lot of expertise to know how to do
petitions," she says -- experience that she says she gained running
her husband's petition drives.
Lasher, who says she is seeking to "continue the Lasher legacy,"
believes her husband's record as an assemblyman and council member
will boost her candidacy.
In a campaign which seems to have few, if any, overwhelming issues,
though, some of her opponents say change is needed to bring more
services to the district.
"People have not received services around here," Recchia says.
"People are out there crying for help." The race, says candidate
Joseph Hocchauser, "is about being represented by someone who
can understand where people are coming from." And Stavitsky says
the City Council has not understood the needs of immigrants, not
only of Russians but of the growing numbers of Turks and Pakistanis
in the community as well. Gotlieb, an aide to Weiner, says he
would stress constituent services and model his office on that
of his boss, who used to be on the council. "A lot of things can
be done to get the people the services they need," says Gotlieb.
"That can be done by getting a city councilmember who works full
time on the needs of the district."
"If people say they think it's an under-served community," Susan
Lasher counters, "everybody in the city of New York will say that.
You always want more." But, she says, in the last years crime
has gone down, and drugs and prostitution, while still problems,
pose less of a threat to the quality of life in the area than
they once did.
Immigrant concerns score high in the 47th. Stavitsky, for example,
cites a lack of interpreters in hospitals and police stations,
along with a need for English as a second language classes and
But the 47th ranks second in the city in the number of people
65 or older, raising another set of issues. For example, Lasher
cited the "unidentified senior who is in an apartment and who
is at risk and people just don't know about."
While seeing a demand for senior services, the candidates also
cite a need to keep and attract younger people to the area by
improving schools and providing affordable housing. "I want to
stop the migration out" of the community, Singer says.
Gotlieb lists education as one of his key concerns and says that
as a community school board member he's focused on child safety.
After all, he says, "you're not going to worry about learning
the math table if you're worried that a gang is going to jump
In talking of attracting younger people, some of the candidates
hark back to the area's glory days. One, Hocchauser, a political
novice, recalled being taken to the beach or amusement park as
a child. It's time, he wrote, "that families who travel to New
York say, 'let's go see a ball game and ride the Cyclone."
And he might add, toss down vodka shots amid the glitz of a Russian
nightclub in Brighton Beach.
The district 47 race has taken several more twists and turns
as the candidates have issued challenges to each others' petitions.
Domenic Recchia Jr. has the endorsement of the Brooklyn Democratic
organization, and has raised over $116,000, nearly twice as much as his
closest competitor Susan Lasher, who has raised $59,000.
Not content at his lead, Recchia Jr. challenged the signatures of two Coney
Island activists, Alfreida Davis and Cynthia Sanchez. Sanchez said she is not
surprised by the challenge. "The people in power do not want real
representation and would rather just sit back and do nothing," said Sanchez,
who will still be running as a candidate for the Green party.
Sanchez said she will continue to campaign on housing rights as well as the
environment. "This is a small island, and it should remain residential,
quiet, and not crowded with industrial warehouses and businesses," said
Davis, who said she may appeal the Board of Elections ruling on her
petitions, said housing, childcare and economic development are some of her
top priorities, if she can continue to run. "I will mandate a law through the
council that would require these [public] houses to be used as community
centers because if the youth have nothing to do and they are hanging out on
the street, they turn to negative behavior."
The two Democratic Russian candidates, Inna Stavitsky and Alec Brook-Krasny,
were involved in a series of challenges and appeals. Brook-Krasny said
Stavitsky's petitions "had massive problems and it's not only unregistered
people, but a lot of doubles and some triples." Stavitsky was removed from
the ballot, but was then put back on after she appealed the ruling. "He
claimed the whole community who participated in helping me get these
petitions signed are frauds," said Stavitsky, who admitted there were mi
stakes in her petitions, but said it was not uncommon for voters from
an immigrant community to be confused about the election rules.
The third Russian candidate, Oleg Gutnick, is running as a Republican.
Gutnick, a local doctor, was recently appointed by Governor Pataki as
coordinator of the newly formed Citizenship Unit for Brooklyn, an
organization that will reach out to eligible resident aliens to help them
with the paperwork involved in order to become American citizens.
Gutnick, who will face Joseph Amato in a Republican primary, said one of his
first acts as an American citizen was to join the Republican party. "Back in
the USSR, when I heard how the Soviet government was denouncing Ronald
Reagan, I knew there was something special about him," said Gutnick. "I was a
Reaganite before I was even American."
Alex Brook-Krasny, founder of Fun-O- Rama in Coney Island,
a children's entertainment center in Coney Island, was born in
Moscow and emigrated to New York in 1989. Since, he has worked
in various private businesses, including a manager and accountant
for a Heating Oil Company. In 2000, he was elected treasurer of
Community Board 13 and is group chair of a political committee
on the Jewish Community Relations Council. He was a candidate
for the New York State Assembly last year. He graduated Moscow
Institute of Technology for engineering and economics.
Alfreida Davis, founding president of Kiwanis Club of
Mermaid Commons, is a community activist in Coney Island. She
has worked as a counselor and teacher in the public schools in
the area, and as a consultant and project developer for various
local organizations. As a project developer she helped organize
the Carey Gardens Boys/Girls Club to Coney Island and fought to
keep Coney Island Hospital a public hospital. She graduated from
Oleg Gutnick, a gynecologist with a private practice in
Brooklyn, emigrated to the U.S. from Kazakhstan, a former Russian
Republic. He is a member of the board of the Brooklyn Public Library,
where he worked with library officials to secure a $5 million
gift from Microsoft to connect Brooklyn libraries to the internet.
He also served on his local Community Board.
Joseph Hochhauser was born and raised in Brooklyn and
works for Verizon. He served as a Union Steward for CWA Local
1105. He is currently studying criminal justice at St. John's
University. He is a member of the Democratic Leaders of the 21st
Century, the Surfside Democratic Club, the 504 Democratic Club,
and the Communications Workers of America.
Susan Lasher is the wife of incumbent Councilmember Howard
Lasher. She has worked as a stockbroker, in publishing and in
other businesses, as well as for her husband's law firm. She has
also worked as an interpreter in Hebrew and Yiddish. She attended
Brooklyn College and received her Bachelor's degree in political
science and comparative politics.
Domenic Recchia Jr. is a lawyer and member of Community
School Board 21, where he helped put together an international
student exchange program. During high school Recchia was a member
of Council for Unity, an organization devoted to creating cultural
and racial understanding among students, now he hopes to transform
the Council into a movement. He graduated from Kent State University
with a Bachelor of Science degree and received his Juris Doctor
degree from Atlanta Law School.
Pat Singer has been a community activist for 25 years
and is executive director of the Brighton Neighborhood Association.
She initiated the summer school program, Second Chance Summer
School and has introduced after school programs in Coney Island
and Brighton Beach. Singer introduced two state legislative bills
concerned with tenants' rights, with the help of then Assemblymen
Chuck Schumer and former State Senator Donald Halperin. Singer
has been recognized by the Congressional Record for her community
Cynthia Sanchez is co-founder and co-chair of the Coney
Island Volunteer Information Cooperative, an organization that
strives to create awareness in community residents. She has represented
community residents in the housing court and as a former nurse
has protested unfair healthcare coverage for the poor. As a member
of the Coney Island Hospital Advisory Board she advocates for
better medical services for uninsured patients. She has brought
attention to environmental issues as well such as the hazards
of despoiling the oceanfront. Sanchez's organization assisted
in the creation of the new Keyspan Stadium in Coney Island.
Inna Stavitsky, who was born in Moscow, is project director
of the Jewish Association of Social Services for the Aged's Brooklyn
Refugee Center. She also teaches English at Kingsborough Community
New York Times endorsement:
"47th District (Brighton Beach, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Gravesend): Susan
Lasher, the wife of the outgoing Council member, is running to continue "the
Lasher legacy." Although Mrs. Lasher has an appealing personality, this
diverse district needs to be represented by someone with a broader vision.
Domenic Recchia, an attorney and school board member, is well versed in
education issues but he seems too focused on the neighborhoods where he has
his political base. Alec Brook-Krasny, who immigrated from Moscow in 1989,
is less politically sophisticated but he appears to be genuinely committed
to reaching out to all the neighborhoods in the district. His election would
also give the city's Russian-American community a much-needed connection to
city affairs. We endorse Alec Brook- Krasny."
Brian Gotlieb has dropped out of the Coney Island Council race,
reducing the crowded Democratic field to nine candidates, and
giving a boost to attorney Domenic Recchia. Gotlieb said that
he was leaving the race to pursue a new position with Rep. Anthony
Weiner, and to begin a new civic association in the shorefront
high rises. Gotlieb, who had served as Weiner's deputy chief of
staff, will now be the director of senior and youth initiatives.
"When it came down to it, I looked at the opportunity for working
on the legislative end and felt that I would be more effective
and create a more positive change for the people in the community,"
said Gotlieb of his new post. Insiders expect much of Gotlieb's
support to fall to Recchia, who serves with Gotlieb on School
Board 21. (Courier Life)
Last week's item on the Coney Island Council race failed to mention
the one candidate, Domenic Recchia, who appears to be building
the most institutional support. Recchia, who has the backing of
Borough President Howard Golden and Assemblymembers Adele Cohen
and William Colton, most recently picked up the endorsement of
the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, otherwise known
as the principal's union. "I look forward to working with them,"
he said. "I'll fight to get them a better contract. It's going
to be a wonderful endorsement, since there's a lot of supervisors
that live in the councilmanic district." Other candidates in the
race include Alec Brook-Krasny, Alfie Davis, Brian Gotlieb, Oleg
Gutnik, Joseph Hochhauser, Susan Lasher, Joel Michaels, Cynthia
Sanchez, Pat Singer and Inna Stavitsky. (Courier Life)
Gov. Pataki has made a Sheepshead Bay physician his Brooklyn point
man in an effort to help thousands of undocumented immigrants
who can still become citizens if they act by the end of the month.
Pataki named Dr. Oleg Gutnick, a native of Kazakhstan in the former
USSR, coordinator of the newly formed Citizenship Unit for Brooklyn,
which will reach out to eligible resident aliens and help them
navigate the maze of paperwork involved. (Daily
Susan Lasher is one of the candidates in a crowded contest for
her husband Howard's City Council seat. Daily
Coney Island business owners hope the new stadium for Brooklyn's
minor league baseball team, the Cyclones, will revive the area's
once thriving amusement area. Daily
Add Susan Lasher to the list of family members seeking City Council
seats held by mothers, fathers and now husbands. Lasher wants
to succeed her term-limited husband, Howard Lasher, in district
47 in Brooklyn, which covers Brighton Beach, Coney Island and
part of Midwood. Other candidates for the seat: Alex Brook-Krasny,
the Russian-born operator of Funorama, school board members Brian
Gottlieb (who is an aide to Congressman Anthony Weiner) and Domenic
Recchia, veteran Brighton civic leader Pat Singer, and Inna Stavitsky,
who works for a Jewish social service agency. Daily
Oleg Gutnick, a Sheepshead Bay gynecologist, will face steep odds
getting elected as a Republican from the overwhelmingly Democratic
47th district. Courier-Life
Newspapers, reprinted by Lambda Independent Democrats
Sitting in his Sheepshead Bay office beneath framed awards for
community service and photos of himself with the mayor and the
governor, Oleg Gutnick explained why he was running for New York
City Council. "To be integrated, you have to be represented,"
said the polished 45-year-old gynecologist. "Without representation,
there is no integration." (The
The Russian community is becoming increasingly politically aware
and active, which could lead to the election of a Russian council
member from the 47th district. The
Susan Lasher denies that her husband, Councilmember Howard Lasher,
will step down early to give her a better chance at winning his
Newspapers, reprinted by Lambda Independent Democrats
Russian immigrants crowded around Brighton Neighborhood Improvement
Association leader Pat Singer in a corner of a Dime Savings Bank
branch as she gave a tutorial in voting. (Daily
An influx of Russian immigrants has revived Brighton Beach (Daily
Pat Singer, founder and executive director of the Brighton Neighborhood
Association, speaks out about the abandoned one-family bungalow
on Brighton Third Lane that has become a haven for drug use, prostitution
and gang activity and now the site of one man's death. (Daily