Mathylde Frontus & Ethan Lustig-Elgrably Face Off In Tense Debate

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Mathylde Frontus & Ethan Lustig-Elgrably. (Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner)

CONEY ISLAND – The community room in Trump Village was packed with residents of Assembly District 46, eager to hear the two Democratic candidates — Mathylde Frontus and Ethan Lustig-Elgrably– speak about their platforms and debate it out. The rather tense debate was moderated by Bklyner’s new political reporter Kadia Goba and was live-streamed on Facebook.

You can watch it in its entirety here:

46th Assembly District Debate. Trump Village. Mathylde Frontus and Ethan Lustig-Elgrably.

Posted by Bklyner on Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The district includes Coney Island and Bay Ridge. The seat was initially held by Assemblywoman Pamela Harris who pled guilty to corruption charges earlier this summer. Frontus and Lustig-Elgrably will face off in a September 13 primary, and the winner will compete against the Republican candidate Steven Saperstein.

You can read about all of their views in our Q&A sessions here, here, here, and here.

Kadia Goba doing her thing. (Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner)

“My name is Mathylde Frontus and I’m a daughter of Coney Island,” Frontus began. This candidate’s opening statement focused on her work in the community. She’s the founder of Urban Neighborhood Services, she founded two coalitions to address gun violence and she has worked with students in schools around the district.

Lustig-Elgrably first acknowledged his long last name and spoke a lot about his family’s immigrant history. “Lustig” comes from his mom’s side from his family in Eastern Europe, whereas “Elgraby” is from his dad’s Moroccan heritage. He spoke about his grandmother being a Holocaust survivor, and said having that name allows him to “carry that heritage around with me everywhere I go.”

Unlike Frontus, Lustig-Elgrably does not have an independent history in Coney Island or Bay Ridge outside of working for Council Member Mark Treyger. He was Treyger’s former chief of staff and touted his experiences throughout the debate. Though he doesn’t have that individual experience, it does seem like he knows how to get things done. He worked with Treyger to get billions of dollars to the district after Hurricane Sandy damaged buildings and caused floods.

Frontus seemed to be a better public speaker, but she was being interrupted all throughout the debate by loud audience members. For example, when asked about NYCHA’s hazardous conditions, she spoke about when a woman came to her office with a water filter to show brown water coming from her kitchen sink. It happened two times, Frontus said.

People began to mumble and interrupt even after she said, “I’m not understanding how anyone can disagree that two people brought water to my office.”

Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner

Lustig-Elgrably’s downside came when he was asked to say who he supports in the Senate District 17 race between incumbent Simcha Felder and Blake Morris. He didn’t answer the question in the Q&A, and he didn’t answer it in the debate, saying nobody reached out to him for an endorsement. He shirked the question twice. He went on to say that whoever wins the Primary must, “absolutely must,” caucus with the Democrats.

Felder most certainly does not caucus with the Democrats, but “there’s a long time between now and January,” Lustig-Elgraby said.

When asked how they can understand conditions of those living in NYCHA, Frontus said she knows from living in the neighborhood and constantly observing. Lustig-Elgrably said he studied anthropology in college and knows about NYCHA from the work he’s done with Treyger.

There were loud groans and mumbles after candidates were asked if they believed in God. Frontus stood up and said she won’t answer because there’s a rumor going around with people saying not to vote for her because “she’s not a Christian and doesn’t believe in God,” Frontus said. That question is beneath her and she feels it has nothing to do with her seat.

Lustig-Elgrably said he’s a “proud Jew” but will also not answer the question (after already answering it) because he will “stand in solidarity with my opponent.”

Both are in support of a Coney Island ferry, but not of a trolley. In fact, the trolly question stumped Frontus a bit, who asked to specify what trolly it was and who was paying for it. “We can ask for world peace while we’re at it.”

Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner

People mumbled and interrupted Frontus so much that she said, “This is really shocking… I’m just asking for a little respect.”

Lustig-Elgrably has been endorsed by a lot of elected officials including Borough President Eric Adams, Treyger, Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, and State Senator Diane Savino. What does he say to people when they look at his endorsements and say he’s an establishment candidate?

That they’ve worked with him and know his record of getting things done.

Does Frontus think she can win without the establishment vote?

For this, she stood up and said: “Yes we can!”

Please listen to the debate at the link above and decide for yourself, and most importantly – if you are a registered Democrat residing in Assembly District 46 – vote in the primaries on Thursday, September 13.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Ms. Iqbal,

    I hope this note finds you well.
    I have a few questions and comments about your article, but I will begin with just one for now: Is it a widely held journalistic practice when reporting on a political debate, to write about the candidate who (after a coin toss) was designated to speak second, as opposed to beginning the report with the opening remarks of the candidate designated to speak first? What factors led to the Bklyner.’s editorial decision to open your report out of the sequence in which the debate actually took place ?
    Thanks so much. I look forward to your response.

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