Republican candidate Steve Saperstein runs for City Council
Newcomer Challenges Incumbent Chaim Deutch of District 48
Brooklyn-born Steve Saperstein is challenging incumbent Chaim Deutch for the City Council seat of District 48. Saperstein believes he’s up for the job as he takes on Deutch, who’s held the office since 2014. District 48 includes Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Midwood and Sheepshead Bay.
Saperstein, a new face on the political scene, says he would bring fresh ideas and a change to the status quo in City Hall. He graduated from Midwood High School and received a B.A. in metropolitan studies from New York University, with a J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law. After receiving his law degree, he earned an M.A. in deaf and hard of hearing education from Hunter College and a second M.A. in school leadership from Touro College.
He grew up in the Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach communities. His grandparents were among the first residents of Coney Island’s Trump Village in the 1960s, and it’s where Saperstein and his family still reside today.
Both of his parents are deaf, as is his younger brother. While Saperstein’s hearing is perfect, he had to become fluent in American Sign Language as a child in order to communicate with his family members. His wife Elina emigrated from the former Soviet Union with her family in 1989. They are the parents of a newborn daughter, Rebecca.
“The first question people often ask me is ‘Steve, why are you running?’ The answer is a no-brainer: Family. Growing up in this neighborhood with deaf parents and a deaf brother had a profound impact on me,” he said.
“Our family converses using American Sign Language. I learned sign language at an early age and it was my first language. I couldn’t learn how to speak English from my parents, so a speech therapist came to my house and taught me how. The need to learn a new language to communicate outside of my family taught me to appreciate the power of communication, having a voice and being heard at a young age.”
While Saperstein has a law degree, he is a tenured member of the Department of Education, where he has worked for six years as an itinerant teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing. After graduating from law school, he decided to pursue a career that would allow him to have an impact on students with disabilities. “That’s what I do every day,” he said. “I advocate for my students to make sure they have access to the curriculum.”
Saperstein admits that for him, education is key. While he loves his job, he feels that running for office will only compound what he is doing and help him impact more people in more meaningful ways. He teaches in 10 different schools in Manhattan, working primarily with high school and middle school students.
He believes in grass-roots democracy and wants to make community budget decisions clear and accessible. Saperstein’s plan calls for opting his district into citywide participatory budgeting. As a result, it would give power back to his constituents and ultimately result in better decisions and allocations of city funds.
He said, “My situation is unique but I know in my heart that I was born into this role from day one. When I am elected councilman, I will be a strong voice and stand up to Mayor [Bill] de Blasio. I want my newborn daughter Rebecca to grow up in a New York where she can ride the subway safely, get a good education, and have a career and family of her own. The best way to guarantee that future was to run for City Council.”