Democratic incumbent Mathylde Frontus declared victory in the contentious race for the Coney Island state Assembly seat against Republican challenger Mark Szuszkiewicz.
“Thank you to everyone who made this victory possible,” Frontus said in a statement. “I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to keep serving the community that has raised me for the last 35 years.”
Frontus leads Szuszkiewicz by only 483 votes, but her campaign manager said her lead will grow after officials count the 500 ballots that Szuszkiewicz’s campaign has contested.
With those contested votes, Frontus’ lead will surpass the 540 outstanding affidavit ballots that will be counted this weekend, making it numerically impossible for Szuszkiewicz to catch up, campaign manager Joe Herrera said.
Szuszkiewicz, a virtually unknown candidate who raised only $1,420, swept election night by nearly 51 percent with 17,852 votes, according to the state’s Board of Elections. But Frontus gained the lead on Nov. 17, when election officials nearly finished counting the district’s 9,000 absentee ballots.
The race for the 46th Assembly district — which covers Coney Island, west Brighton Beach, and portions of Gravesend and Bay Ridge — gained national attention after Brooklyn Paper reported that Szuszkiewicz had uploaded numerous posts to his social media accounts supporting the far-right conspiracy theory, QAnon.
Szuszkiewicz’s popularity has shocked locals — not only because of apparent support of QAnon, but because of the district’s history as a Democratic stronghold. If Szuszkiewicz had been elected, he would have been the first Republican to represent Coney Island in more than 80 years, one politico said.
“‘Surprised’ is an understatement,” said Ralph Perfetto, a third-generation Coney Islander and former district leader, about Szuszkiewicz’s lead. “In my lifetime, I’ve never seen Coney Island in any way shape or form come close to becoming a Republican district.”
Frontus, who previously ran a Coney Island non-profit called Urban Neighborhood Services, won the embattled Assembly seat in 2018 after the resignation of former Assemblywoman Pamela Harris, who pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars in Superstorm Sandy recovery money.
Before Harris, the seat was occupied by Alec Brook-Krasny, who vacated the position in 2015 to work at a Sheepshead Bay clinic, where he was later arrested in connection to a drug scam that allegedly defrauded Medicare and Medicaid and sold more than 6.3 million pills on the black market. Brook-Krasny was acquitted of the charges in 2019.
Frontus said that, despite the seat’s fraught past, she hopes to pave a bright future during her second term.
“Southern Brooklynites can count on me to keep fighting every single day as we go through these challenging times together,” she said in a statement.
The vote tally comes from a scan of the ballots by the Board of Elections, which released the numbers to the campaigns. The Board will only publish the official election results when all the races are counted.
This story first appeared on our sister publication brooklynpaper.com.