The 48th District has one Republican and one Democrat– Marat Filler–running against the incumbent Chaim Deutsch.
Steven Saperstein is the Republican candidate vying to represent Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, Trump Village, Luna Park, Brightwater Towers, and Midwood. (Check out more conversations with candidates running for open seats in Brooklyn.)
Who is Steven Saperstein?
Saperstein grew up in the very same neighborhoods District 48 represents– Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach. His first language was American Sign Language, needed to communicate with his deaf parents and brother – “It taught me the power of communication and being an advocate and a leader for others,” Saperstein said. It is also why Saperstein is a special needs teacher.
During Michael Bloomberg’s administration, Saperstein worked to minimize the impact of location shooting on local neighborhoods, residents and small businesses, at the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting.
He is also a member of several organizations, including: UJA Federation of NY, Israeli Air Force Center Young Professionals of the East Coast, Brooklyn First Responders for Addiction, and the Brooklyn Hebrew Society for the Deaf.
Why He’s Running For City Council
“I’m running for city council because I want my newborn daughter Rebecca to have the same opportunities my wife and I had when we were growing up,” Saperstein said. “I want her to grow up in a New York where she can ride the subways safely, get a good education, and have a career and family of her own.”
Issues He Hopes To Address
As a teacher, Saperstein says he’s seen schools fail students first hand. That’s why he’s “running to be the councilman who makes schools perform, and gives students the tools they need for 21st century life, in any profession.”
He is also working to with the DOE to get paid maternity leave for working mothers. “The current policy is terrible. In order to get paid for up to six weeks, teachers have to use saved sick days,” Saperstein said. “We must value women in this city and stress the importance that parental presence has on child during those first few months.”
Other problems he hopes to address are:
- Quality of life
- Investing in seniors
“Since declaring for City Council, the homeless crisis has ramped up in my district,” Saperstein said. “This is a big quality of life concern, and one where I will work my butt off to help shift policy.”
On Fixing The MTA
Every City Council candidate that BKLYNER has interviewed, disagrees with the current handling of the MTA. Saperstein is no different.
“By changing the process of how the board itself is selected by giving the city council influence on selecting MTA board members, going line by line through the MTA budget and looking at ways to allocate resources more effectively to go to improved bus and subway service especially in my district,” Saperstein said. “The MTA needs to expand Select Bus Service in my district as several of the bus lines impacted in my district have some of the longest travel times and route destinations in the borough.”
The recent presidential election has plenty of Brooklynites feared for their lives. Saperstein believes we must follow the law.
“We also need to protect our community as we are a country still at war, and we need to emphasize legal immigration,” Saperstein said. “I do believe if you are contributing member of society, there is a place for you here but we should respect the law.”
On Crime, Development, and Gentrification
“All of these issues are compounded by massive spending increases by the De Blasio administration, squeezing out the middle class in my district with property, and water bill taxincreases over and over,” Saperstein said. “My district pays far more in taxes than in exchange for the services we get in exchange from the city. Park Slope should not pay less in property taxes than my district.”
“My district wants more cops on the street to keep us safe, better transportation options for a faster commute to Manhattan or elsewhere in the borough, smarter development, and help to our small businesses here who can’t afford the rising rents and massive and burdensome regulations by the mayor and city council,” he said.
On Being a Republican in a predominately Democrat City
According to Saperstein, many Democrats in his district are tired of the “Democratic party quo,” he said.
“I have been going door to door across the entire district where we have met thousands of voters in my district for the past year,” he said. “I believe in grassroots democracy. Residents welcome my candidacy and want someone to stop Mayor De Blasio and his policies.”
On President Trump’s policies
“My district largely voted for Trump due to dissatisfaction with the leftward trend of the Democratic party, and I would add President Trump is quite popular in my district,” Saperstein said. “I am my own person but Trump won here because people wanted to change from the Democratic party status quo.”
ON Running Against an Incumbent
Saperstein is running against the incumbent Democrat Chaim Deutsch.
“Mr. Deutsch has been an ineffective absent member of the district who has largely rubber stamped the policies of the DeBlasio administration,” Saperstein said. “Mr. Deutsch has failed to criticize the city council and De Blasio on almost any issue ranging from taxes, Rikers Island, quality of life, homelessness and the expansion of the city budget I WILL link the 48th district and take advantage of a $1,000,000 community budget incentive.”
“I believe in grassroots democracy and want to make budget decisions clear and accessible,” he continued. “I believe that no one knows the needs of our community better than the people who live here. That’s why I am going to provide our people with transparency into budget decisions because it gives real power to our community and results in better budget decisions.”
On What It Means to be a Brooklynite
“It means resilience, fighting for what you believe in, hard work and never giving up,” Saperstein said. “Brooklyn is in my blood, born and raised here, it has made me the strong person I am today.”
Saperstein was also endorsed by the Brooklyn Republican Party, according to a report by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Does he believe he can win? Yes.
“On November 7th the 48th council district has the opportunity to stop the DeBlasio administration in its tracks and save our city by electing me to city council.”
Story & Photo by Will Bredderman
The 48th City Council District, currently held by Democratic Councilman Chaim Deutsch, is a docile semi-suburban slice of southern Brooklyn, cutting into leafy Midwood and stretching to the sandy margins of Brighton Beach.
It has enclaves of affluence, largely by the waterfront, and particularly in Manhattan Beach, the jutting eastern end of the Coney Island peninsula. But the landscape consists mainly of humble row houses and unassuming semi-detached homes and square, utilitarian apartment blocks.
This may be in part because the area’s single largest reservoir of votes is the vast Trump Village complex in Coney Island—the heart of the outer borough housing empire that belonged to the president’s father. But it has at least as much to do with population shifts.
The 48th District one of the few places in New York City, and in all of America, where demographic change has favored Republicans. The traditional Democratic stock of working-class Italian-Americans and liberal Jews has faded, given way to Eastern Europeans skittish of anything that whiffs of communism and attracted to Trump’s gaudiness, and to religious Jews.
GOP candidate Steve Saperstein, although just 32, belongs to the older population. He grew up in a Reform family, his father a factory worker, his mother a homemaker. In his teenage years, he handed out leaflets for Democratic then-Assemblywoman Adele Cohen, before converting to conservatism while at New York University.
Both of Saperstein’s parents and his younger brother suffer from congenital deafness, which him to a career working with the city Department of Education as a teacher for the hearing-challenged.
“I’ve been an outsider my whole life,” he told the Observer at his campaign kickoff last night, at Wheeler’s Restaurant in Sheepshead Bay. “That’s made me who I am, it’s why I’m running.”
Saperstein praised Trump for his campaign emphasis on infrastructure and job creation, and his destabilization of the political status quo. Still, he seemed hesitant to fully wrap himself in the president’s flag.
“Many of his policies I do support, and I know many of the constituents here do,” he said. “But I’m not Donald Trump. I’m Steve Saperstein.”
The candidate seemed far more comfortable attacking Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “backward policies,” and voicing common concerns about asphyxiating small business regulations, underperforming public schools and the contagion of opioid addiction.
“I’m meeting people in the street who are worried that our city is sort of slipping back to the bad old days,” he said. “I will be someone, when I get to City Hall, to vehemently oppose his policies, while at the same time taking care of my constituents and my community.”
There is also a growing likelihood of a divisive primary on the Democratic side. Many observers expect political operative Kalman Yeger, a distant relative of Deutsch’s, to run against him.
Behind Yeger is Councilman David Greenfield, the self-styled Svengali of southern Brooklyn, whose access to deep-pocketed donors and cachet in the ultra-Orthodox community has given him tremendous influence over the official Kings County Democratic Party. Greenfield, who chairs the Council’s powerful Committee on Land Use, is known to have long viewed Deutsch as a rival.
Marat Filler, another Democrat, has also filed to challenge the sitting councilman.
Saperstein would not comment on the fight for the opposing ballot line, other than to acknowledge that it could only play in his favor. Still, it remains unclear whether the Republican contender can recreate Trump’s successes in the district.
Despite their conservative inclinations, the religious Jewish population has one of their own in Deutsch. And the most influential Russian power-brokers, radio host Gregory Davidzon and the Bay Democrats club, have both endorsed the incumbent.
But Saperstein argued his aggressive in-person campaigning—plus the help of his Soviet Union-born wife Elina—will win him those crucial blocs in November.
“I’m focusing on meeting people in the district, going door-to-door, having events like this,” he said. “I do feel confident that we will get people out to vote, and get the Russian community and the Orthodox community on our side.”
City Council candidate Steve Saperstein greets a potential constituent.
By John Alexander
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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.”