The war for Sheepshead Bay

Former CB15 District Manager kicks off Assembly bid

Brooklyn Daily

Former Community Board 15 District Manager Ben Akselrod launched his candidacy for state Assembly on Sunday without mentioning the 11-year incumbent he’s running against — setting the stage for what could be a gentleman’s race with Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay).

The former Community Board 15 district manager rallied dozens of supporters in front of Baku Palace on Emmons Avenue with a speech that described the Gravesend-to-Midwood district in broad terms, but did not make a single reference to Cymbrowitz — a reserved elected official who prefers to work behind-the-scenes on neighborhood issues and rarely seeks the spotlight.

“This district needs an assemblyman who understands the needs of this community,” said Akselrod.

The Soviet Union-born nursing home administrator vowed to improve the area’s public school system, transit services, and lower crime — all while highlighting his immigrant background and degrees from Touro College and Brooklyn College.

But he isn’t planning on slinging any mud at Cymbrowitz, he told BrooklynDaily.com.

“I’m not going to throw the first punch,” said Akselrod, who made his political bones as a legislative aide to former state Sen. Seymour Lachman in the early 1990s. “I don’t want to start my campaign by talking about Cymbrowitz.”

Cymbrowitz did not return several calls seeking comment.

Lachman said he hopes the race remains above board.

“Ben’s going to win on the merits,” said Lachman, who endorsed his former staffer at Akselrod’s campaign kickoff on May 6. “I hope it’ll be a gentleman’s campaign where the issues are discussed and there’s no name calling.”

But that could change quickly if Akselrod — a conservative Democrat — mounts a serious challenge in Sheepshead Bay, a right-leaning area that elected Rep. Bob Turner (R–Sheepshead Bay) last year and gave senate-hopeful David Storobin an election-night victory in March.

Cymbrowitz has never faced a strong opponent. But in 2010, his obscure Republican challenger Joseph Hayon caused a stir by capturing 43 percent of the vote in the general election, despite spending just $600.

Cymbrowitz entered January with a $119,766 warchest, according to the latest campaign finance records.

Akselrod declined to say how much money he’s raised so far.

The primary is scheduled for June 26.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

Reader Feedback

Allison from Midwood says:
Ben Akselrod is a blessing to the community.

We need a change. We need new leadership.
May 9, 2012, 9 am
Benny from SheepsheadBay says:
Ben is, and will continue to be a strong advocate for the Community. He has what it takes to bring Communities together and is a no nonsense stand up guy. I look forward to his strong and honest leadership in the State Assembly.
May 9, 2012, 11 am
Lee from Sheepshead Bay says:
Cymbrowitz's only mistake is being a quiet politician, not bragging about his accomplishments. But he has many -- and the fact that DINO (Democrat in Name Only) Akselrod is trying to defeat him says sad things about where our neighborhood is headed. My vote is for the man who's proven that he gets things done -- Cymbrowitz.
May 14, 2012, 11:04 am
Lee from Sheepshead Bay says:
Cymbrowitz's only mistake is being a quiet politician, not bragging about his accomplishments. But he has many -- and the fact that DINO (Democrat in Name Only) Akselrod is trying to defeat him says sad things about where our neighborhood is headed. My vote is for the man who's proven that he gets things done -- Cymbrowitz.
May 14, 2012, 11:04 am
Alex from Midwood says:
Cymbrowitz is nobody. He does not know and is not willing to know about needs of working people on the district. His the only concern is to keep social programs. He cares just about food stamps recepients but not about working class. He is exactly a piece of Democratic machine and depend on Vito Lopez. I do not know this new guy but at least it would be not worse. So, I'm going to vote for Ben.
May 14, 2012, 9:55 pm
Ari from Brighton Beach says:
Ben Akselrod is supported by many Russians, Orthodox and Chinese leaders. It shows he can assemble a powerful and diverse coalition to represent his district. My vote goes to Ben.
May 14, 2012, 11:58 pm
Mistake from your primary date says:
The priamry is on Sept 11 not in June
May 15, 2012, 1:34 pm
Ari from Brighton Beach says:
The primary is scheduled for Thursday, September 13.
May 27, 2012, 11:15 pm

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