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In Their Own Words: Ari Kagan vs. Justin Brannan for Council in Bay Ridge/Coney Island

Two incumbent Council members are on a collision course to represent a newly drawn district that includes pieces of their existing districts. Hear what they said about livable streets issues.

3:12 PM EDT on October 10, 2023

In the newly redrawn 47th Council District, one incumbent (Justin Brannan, left) will battle another incumbent (Ari Kagan, right). Today, they answered questions from podcaster Ben Max (inset).

Two incumbent Council members on a collision course due to redistricting (and the party switch by one of them!) met for a broadcast debate earlier today and neither emerged as a true hero of the livable streets movement.

Granted, the full debate for the 47th District in Brooklyn broached topics as diverse as immigration, casinos and whether Rep. Hakeem Jeffries should one day be Speaker of the House of Representatives in distant Washington, D.C. — but in lightning round questioning, neither Council Member Justin Brannan, the Democrat, nor Council Member Ari Kagan, the one-time Democrat who changed party to run against Brannan when his own district was redrawn, championed street safety or transit beyond Brannan's full-throated support for bus lanes for his district (which currently has none).

Here were their answers to questions from former Gotham Gazette Editor Ben Max of the Max Politics podcast. (To hear the full hour-long debate, click here.) StreetsPAC has previously endorsed Brannan in his previous elections. The group has never endorsed Kagan.

Question: What is one public transit improvement that you will be fighting for once congestion pricing is in place?

Ari Kagan: I'm using public transportation every day and I want the F train to start going Express from Coney Island all the way to Manhattan.

Justin Brannan: Bringing the ferry to Coney Island.

Kagan: I'm a strong opponent of congestion pricing.

Question: Do you want to see more dedicated protected bus lanes in this district?

Kagan: Not more. What they have right now is enough. [Editor's note: Kagan's current district, 47, ranks 41st out of 51 Council districts for bus lanes, according to data from MIT.]

Brannan: Yes, I'm a big bus lane guy. [Editor's note: Brannan's district is dead last with no dedicated bus lanes, according to the same data.]

Question: Should there be more — or in the of this district, any — protected bike lanes?

Kagan: No.

Brannan: If we're going to have bike lanes, I rather they'd be protected than just the paint in the street.

The election for the newly redrawn 47th District is on Nov. 7. The last day to register is Oct. 28. Click here for info.

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