BOROUGHWIDE — The Bay Democrats ushered in the holidays by hosting the group’s sixth annual dinner, where civic and business leaders were the center of attention when they were presented with awards for their good works throughout the year.
Hosted by Ari Kagan and Margarita Kagan, the two Democratic district leaders of the 45th Assembly District, the dinner was held at Signature Restaurant on Emmons Avenue and drew a large crowd of elected officials, judges, business leaders and civic activists.
The guests included political luminaries like Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz, Mathylde Frontus and Walter Mosley and Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch and Justin Brannan.
Richard Rozhik was named Attorney of the Year. The owners of EZ Living Home Care of NY received the Best Service Provider of the Year award. The Victoria Stancil Community Leadership Award was presented to Louie Liu, vice president of the Brooklyn Community Improvement Association.
The Community Service Award was given to Abida Sattar, first vice chairperson of the Coney Island Hospital Community Advisory Board. Samuel Cooper, former vice president of the Marlboro Residents Association, received the Community Service Award.
Ari Kagan said the dinner was joyful but also had a serious purpose.
“The most important mission of Bay Democrats is to bring people and communities together,” he told the Home Reporter. “At our sixth annual dinner and holiday party, we honored prominent community leaders and business professionals from many Brooklyn neighborhoods. It was gratifying to see a full house and happy faces of our club members.”
The 45th Assembly District, represented in the New York State Assembly by Steven Cymbrowitz, takes in parts of several Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Homecrest, Gravesend and Midwood.
The awards dinner also doubled as a fundraiser for the Bay Democrats. But a portion of the funds raised at the event will be donated to charity, Kagan said.
Ari Kagan and Margarita Kagan co-founded the Bay Democrats in 2014. The two district leaders share the same last name but are not related to each other.
Political party district leaders in New York State are officially known as state committee persons because they are members of the party’s state committee. Each of the major political parties has district leaders in Assembly districts.
District leaders, who are unsalaried, run for their positions in elections just as any other political candidate would do, but only registered members of a party are eligible to vote in district leader races in that party.
District leaders work behind the scenes to recruit candidates to run for public office, organize volunteers to collect petition signatures to get candidates’ names on the election ballot and work with lawmakers to promote the party’s agenda.
Both Kagans are originally from Belarus and each came to the U.S. in the early 1990s to seek the American Dream.
Ari Kagan had high praise for his co-leader. “She is a great organizer and she has a lot of experience bringing people together. She knows how to get things done,” he said.
Margarita Kagan is a former director of cultural affairs at the Shorefront Y and also taught at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music for many years. In 2010, she served as a neighborhood coordinator for the U.S. Census.
Ari Kagan, who has worked for various elected officials throughout the years, currently serves as community liaison for New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.