BY MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK & HELEN KLEIN
Coney Island resident and Democratic candidate Pamela Harris has won the race for the vacant 46th Assembly District seat.
According to unofficial results from the New York City Board of Elections, with 99 percent of Election Day votes counted, Harris – who will be the first African-American woman to hold the post –had bested Republican/Conservative opponent Lucretia Regina-Potter with 58.45 percent of the vote (4,364 votes), while Regina-Potter received 36.88 percent of the votes cast (2,573).
Harris claimed victory late Tuesday evening at the MCU Park Gallery, located at 1904 Surf Avenue, where Harris supporters were gathered.
“I really want to say, to all of you, thank you so much for being by my side through thick and thin,” said an overjoyed Harris. “I will continue to do what I’ve been doing. I am going to continue to do what’s right for our district, not just our community — for our district. I will continue to do what’s right for our unions because we can’t live without them and, last but not least, I will always continue to do what’s right by our youth because they are who we are – they are our future.”
Local Democratic elected officials – who had been at Harris’s side throughout the campaign — joined in the celebration.
“This is a historic night and once you have done something historic, no one can ever take that away from you, and it’s going to keep getting better and better,” said Assemblymember William Colton, adding, “You reached out to the people, you listened, you responded and they have responded to you. You are going to be the assemblywoman and you are going to do a great job.”
A jubilant Councilmember Mark Treyger, after telling Harris to “winterize her tires” for her drives to Albany, said, “I cannot think of a more powerful statement than to have a resident of the west end of Coney Island reach the state house in Albany. There were many who said this day would never come. Pam Harris is someone whose story should be inspiring to many of us.”
A resident of Dyker Heights, Regina-Potter had repeatedly stressed during the campaign that she was the local candidate, as opposed to Harris, who lives in Coney Island (but, whose family once lived in Bay Ridge). The district includes portions of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, as well as Seagate, Coney Island and portions of Brighton Beach.
For a long time, Regina-Potter supporters, gathered in her campaign office at 17th Avenue and 81st Street, held out hope as returns posted by the BOE showed the two candidates with under 100 votes separating them. That changed, late in the evening, when Coney Island returns came in, boosting Harris’s lead rapidly to over 800 votes.
At that point, Regina-Potter spoke with this paper. “We put up a good fight,” she said. “We made it a contested race for the first time ever, and it was one of the best campaigns I have ever seen in Brooklyn.”
While Regina-Potter said it was “too soon to say” if she would run again for Assembly, Arnaldo Ferraro, the chair of the Brooklyn GOP (pending the results of a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate his election), declared himself ready to rumble on her behalf.
“We are calling it tonight,” Ferraro told the group at Regina-Potter headquarters. “Tomorrow, we start all over again. Lucretia,” he declared, “is going to be the assemblywoman from the 46th A.D.”
A potential matchup could occur in a year during the regular Assembly election, as Harris’s victory occurred during a special election called after the seat’s former occupant, Alec Brook-Krasny, stepped down to take a job in the private sector.
In the other legislative race taking place in Brooklyn, Democratic Assemblymember Roxanne Persaud easily defeated her opponents, Jeffrey Ferretti (a Republican) and Elias Weir (running on the Conservative line) to snag the State Senate seat in the 19th S.D. in Canarsie and East New York.
Persaud garnered 87.88 percent of the vote (6,980 votes), while Ferretti received 8.84 percent of the vote (702 votes) and Weir received 3.08 percent of the vote (25 votes). Persaud will take the seat vacated by former State Senator John Sampson, who was convicted in July of obstruction of justice and other charges.