A Coney Island civic leader running for a state Assembly seat that includes Bay Ridge told residents at a candidate’s forum that if she wins, she will open a constituent service office in this end of the district.
Speaking at an Oct. 3 forum sponsored by the Bay Ridge Inter-Agency Council on Aging, Mathylde Frontus, the Democratic candidate in the 46th Assembly District (Coney Island-Dyker Heights-Bay Ridge) pledged to represent all residents of the district and not just the neighborhood where she resides.
Part of that pledge includes opening a district office to serve constituents in the Bay Ridge end of the district.
“Bay Ridge does deserve that representation,” she told the audience at the forum, which took place at the Fort Hamilton Senior Citizens Center at 9941 Fort Hamilton Parkway. “I intend to represent everyone in this room, not just the people of Coney Island.”
Frontus had the floor all to herself. Her Republican opponent, Steve Saperstein, was unable to attend. But he had a good excuse, according to his friend, Liam McCabe, who read a statement from the candidate explaining that he and his wife had had a baby the day before.
Frontus was among those in the room applauding at the announcement.
Frontus, who is a social worker by training and earned a PhD from Columbia University, took the opportunity to introduce herself to Bay Ridge residents and talked about her priorities.
Fresh off a razor-thin win in the Democratic Primary, in which she defeated Ethan Lustig-Elgrably by a mere 50 votes, Frontus called it a historic race. “We were the underdog,” she said, adding that she operated her campaign “on a shoestring budget.”
She didn’t have much money, but “what we had was the heart and soul of the people,” she said.
In addition to a promise to serve constituents in all parts of the district, Frontus also said she would work hard to improve the lives of senior citizens.
“My agenda is to make sure seniors are able to remain in their communities thriving. They are surviving but not thriving,” she said.
She intends to fight for rent protections for senior citizens, she said. She recalled a conversation she had with a 65-year-old woman whose rent recently went up to $1,100 a month. The senior’s monthly income is $1,300.
“She is one of dozens and dozens of people for whom the system is not working,” Frontus said.
She called for the establishment of a new program that would automatically cap seniors’ rent. Under her plan, seniors would not have to apply for the program because they would automatically be enrolled, she said.
Frontus also talked about the sadness she felt when she saw five people at a subway stop in the district who could not afford the $2.75 fare.
Frontus is the founder of Urban Neighborhood Services, a social services agency. She also founded a program to help local military veterans, created an LGBT Outreach project, organized the group Coney Island College Bound, which offers free SAT prep for high school students, and started the Coney Island Anti-Violence Academy.
Frontus comes from the world of academia. She earned a Master’s degree in Social Work at NYU. She also holds a Master of Arts degree in psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University, a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Ph.D. from the Columbia University School of Social Work.
Frontus and Saperstein are running to succeed Democrat Pamela Harris, who resigned from office in disgrace earlier this year after she was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of fraud and corruption. She pleaded guilty to the charges.