A New York City councilman is switching parties from Democrat to Republican.
Ari Kagan — a city councilman from Brooklyn who represents the 47th district — announced Monday that he is switching parties. Kagan also announced his intention to challenge Democrat Justin Brannan in next year’s general election in the newly-redrawn district. Kagan said crime was one of the main reasons he decided to leave the Democrats.
“Over the last several years in my personal humble opinion, [the] Democratic Party in New York became moving to the left at such a speed that they could not even keep up,” Kagan said at a press conference on Monday, via amNY. “And on issue after issue every year, every month, I started to feel that it’s not me leaving the Democratic Party, but [the] Democratic Party very quickly started to leave me. Especially on [the] most important issue of the day, public safety.”
“Every month I found myself like ‘what am I doing in the Democratic Party?’” he added. “In my own district, in southern Brooklyn, everywhere I knocked [on] the doors people saying ‘when are you switching to the Republican Party?”
Kagan specifically pointed out that the city’s criminal reforms and rising crime in the city were the main reasons he was switching parties. Specifically, he pointed to Democratic policy proposals like abolishing solitary confinement and eliminating landlords’ ability to run criminal background checks on prospective tenants.
“I believe right now, the Democratic Party is doing everything possible in New York City to make everybody less safe,” he said. According to crime statistics from the NYPD, reported by The Daily Wire, crimes like burglary, grand larceny, and rape decreased by 14%, but other crimes increased. Felony assaults increased 3%; robberies increased 3.6%; car thefts increased by 9.4%; and 30 homicides were reported in the month of November, a 25% increase from the 25 murders reported in November 2021.
Kagan was elected to New York City Council in November 2021. His district represents the neighborhoods of Coney Island, Gravesend and Sea Gate. An immigrant from Belarus and the son of Holocaust survivors, Kagan came to the United States in 1993. He graduated from Baruch College and worked for comptroller John Liu and former Congressman Michael McMahon; he also worked as a journalist for Russian-language media in the city.
“We’re happy to have him as part of our conference,” Republican New York City Council minority leader Joe Borelli said at the press conference. “And I think he’ll do a great job serving the people of this district.”
Kagan’s party switcheroo comes as Republicans have begun to make serious inroads in Brooklyn. According to the New York Daily News, Republicans flipped three state assembly seats in south Brooklyn. Republican Nicole Malliotakis also won re-election in New York’s 11th Congressional District, by a larger margin than expected; her district encompasses both Kagan’s 47th district and Brannan’s 43rd.
According to the New York Post, Governor Kathy Hochul edged out Republican Lee Zeldin in Bay Ridge in the 43rd district, but Zeldin beat her in other parts of the area. And in 2021, Republican Curtis Sliwa edged out NYC mayor Eric Adams in the 47th district.