Farah Louis Wins Brooklyn Special Election

Farah Louis, flanked by Haitian-American New York State Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte and Democratic district leader Josué Pierre, delivers a victory speech Tuesday night at the Juicy Box, a Haitian-owned restaurant and lounge in Flatbush, Brooklyn. (Photo by  Nelson A. King via Caribbean Life)

Farah Louis will take over Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ City Council seat in the 45th District following a heated run-up to the May 14 special election. According to unofficial election results updated last night, Louis won 41.8 percent of the vote, beating out Monique Chandler-Waterman who received 30.2 percent and the other six candidates who all received under 10 percent.

Bklyner’s Kadia Gobia pointed out that 9,325 residents cast their vote in a district of more than 100,000 and that Louis emerged victorious in large part thanks to the Orthodox Jewish community.

More than 1,000 voters bubbled in the 42nd Assembly district (Flatlands Midwood), home to much of the district’s Orthodox community. That number accounts for more than a third of Louis winning vote and more than 10% of the entire electoral count of 9,235.

“Monique and Farah were the only two candidates that reached out to me,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch of the 48th council district when asked why he thought the Jewish community rallied around Louis rather than Adina Sash, an Orthodox woman who ran for the seat. “When I asked Farah what her platform was about she spoke about unifying the community. Her message of unity spoke to me,” he added noting the uptick in hate crimes throughout the city which he’s been vocal about.

In a Jewish Week story on Louis’ win, Amy Sara Clark writes that according to estimates from political analysts, Jewish residents make up some 15 percent of the 45th District. On the day of the election, Council member Kalman Yeger, together with Deutsch, “published an op-ed on The Yeshiva World’s website full-throatedly supporting Louis.” Clark mentioned that despite questionable tweets from Louis in 2010, “Louis’ Jewish endorsers are standing firmly behind her, putting political practicality ahead of personal feelings.”

Noting that some 61 percent of residents in the 45th Council District are Caribbean or African American, Caribbean Life’s Nelson A. King gave details about the candidates’ background: Brooklyn-born Louis is the daughter of Haitian immigrants and Chandler-Waterman is the daughter of Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants. And most of the other six candidates have Caribbean roots. Public Advocate Williams is the son of immigrants from Grenada.

Heritage became a contentious issue during the race, as The Haitian Times wrote in its story on Louis’ win.

Many assumed Williams would knight Louis, his former deputy chief of staff, as his choice to replace him. But to the surprise and anger of the district’s Haitian community, Williams on April 17 opted to endorse Chandler-Waterman during a speech on Toussaint L’overture Boulevard in the district’s Little Haiti area.

Jonathan Greig said in an earlier story in the publication:

The Haitian community is a sizable part of the Caribbean American electorate but there have been grumblings recently about the alleged outsized political influence Haitians and Haitian-Americans have in the district.

Louis did secure the endorsement of several local political leaders including Haitian-American Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte of Flatbush and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

As Brooklyn Paper’s Kevin Duggan noted, Louis also received the support of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. During the race, a letter signed by the political group that appeared in a Jewish newspaper in support of Louis “exposed a raw nerve,” Kings County Politics reported at the time.

The current term for the Council seat ends on Dec. 31. Louis will face off against challengers again in the June 25 primary, and the winner of that race will take office in January.

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