Coney Island

Coney Island civic leader says she’ll run if Pamela Harris resigns

January 29, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Dr. Mathylde Frontus, founder of the Coney Island Coalition Against Violence and the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative, says she is interested in running if the State Assembly seat becomes vacant. Photo courtesy of Frontus
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Another potential candidate has emerged for a New York State Assembly seat currently held by a lawmaker under federal indictment.

With Assemblymember Pamela Harris (D-Coney Island-Dyker Heights-Bay Ridge) facing serious legal trouble over wire fraud, witness tampering and other charges, Dr. Mathylde Frontus, a Coney Island civil leader, contacted the Brooklyn Eagle last week and confirmed media reports that she is interested in running for the seat should Harris resign.

“As with the other names being touted as possible candidates for the 46th Assembly District seat should it become vacant, I continue to monitor the situation and await any new information. I am interested in running and using my voice to speak up about the issues affecting my community. It should come as no surprise that the list of potential candidate continues to grow daily given the level of civic involvement which can be found throughout southwest Brooklyn. I think it would be great to have a robust crop of candidates to keep the dialogue going about the long-standing needs of the district.”

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond was the first to report that Frontus is interested in running for the seat.

Frontus, who has lived in Coney Island for 33 years, is the founder of three civic organizations.

For many years, she served as the leader of Urban Neighborhood Services, a social services agency. She also founded the Coney Island Coalition Against Violence and the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative.

Frontus stepped away from the day-to-day responsibilities at Urban Neighborhood Services in 2016.

She is currently an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University, where she teaches a course in advocacy. Starting this month, she will be teaching a course in advocacy and social justice at New York University.

Frontus earned a Bachelor’s degree of Social Work and 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 and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.

In May 2015, Frontus earned her Ph.D. from the Columbia University School of Social Work.

If Harris does decide to resign, Gov. Andrew Cuomo could set a special election to elect a replacement. The winner would serve the remainder of Harris’ term in office, which runs through the end of this year. Harris was first elected to represent the 46th Assembly District in a special elected in 2015. She was re-elected in 2016.

Among the Democrats being mentioned as possible candidates is Kate Cucco, a community relations specialist at Maimonides Medical Center who ran against Harris in a Democratic Primary for the Assembly seat in 2015 and lost. Cucco served as chief of staff to Harris’ predecessor, former assembly member Alec Brook-Krasny.

Brook-Krasny, who resigned from the Assembly in July of 2015, was indicted last year on health care fraud and bribery charges.

Chris McCreight, chief of staff to Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) has been touted as a possible candidate.

Two Democrats who are running against Republican state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) this year, lawyer Andrew Gounardes and journalist Ross Barkan, have also been mentioned as viable candidates for the Harris seat.

Only one Republican has been willing to go on the record about a possible run.

Steve Saperstein, who ran against Councilmember Chaim Deutsch (D-Manhattan Beach-Brighton Beach) in 2017 and lost, confirmed to hosts Vito Palmeri and Vito DiGiovanni on the Vito and Vito radio show that he intends to run for the Assembly seat.

Lucretia Regina Potter, the former GOP district leader in the 46th Assembly District, who lost to Harris in the general election in 2015, could run again but has not commented on the situation.

Other names being mentioned are Republican John Quaglione, Golden’s deputy chief of staff, and Bob Capano, a Reform Party activist.

Harris, 57, was charged with two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of making false statements, two counts of bankruptcy fraud, one count of witness tampering and one court of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

She allegedly used her position as the executive director of a not-for-profit organization called Coney Island Generation Gap to obtain $23,000 in City Council funding by claiming to use the money to rent studio space. She submitted a forged lease agreement and diverted the money to her personal checking account, according to the indictment.


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