Haitian American assemblywoman wants gov’t more accessible

Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus.
Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus

Newly-elected Haitian American Assemblywoman, Dr. Mathylde Frontus is focused on making government more accessible for constituents in the 46th Assembly District in Brooklyn.

In seeking elective office for the very first time, Frontus created history on Election Day last November by becoming the first Haitian American to win the seat that was held by former Assemblywoman, Pamela Harris, who resigned on April 2, 2018.

Last June, Harris pleaded guilty to fraud and witness tampering, admitting that she had defrauded government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), out of tens of thousands of dollars.

The 46th Assembly District comprises all of Coney Island and Sea Gate, and parts of Brighton Beach, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.

Frontus — who received her PhD from the Columbia University School of Social Work in 2015 where she specialized in Social Policy & Administration — said, at the time on her election, that she planned to accomplish her goal by “establishing a platform, which will allow residents to have a say and provide input on what they would like to see done in the community.

“Additionally, I would like to see an expansion of affordable housing, which is truly affordable for fixed income families in the district,” she told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview. “I would consider introducing legislation to recalculate our formula for determining affordability, etc.

“I made a few promises during the campaign trail. I promised to focus on community inclusion and engagement by starting the first Southern Brooklyn Community Think Tank, so that local residents can have a say about the initiatives that come out of my office,” she added.

Frontus also promised to start a civic engagement series, “so that residents can learn more about politics, government and running for office.

“I promised to fight when I get to Albany for issues that the people of my district care about, such as affordable housing, government transparency and accountability, and bringing more funding and mental health services to our public schools,” she continued.

Frontus — who was born in Crown Heights and lived there until 7, when her Haitian-born parents moved to Coney Island in 1985 to purchase their first home — said she was “excited” about her election to the State Assembly.

“I ran a grassroots campaign and focused on just reaching out to voters and sharing my ideas with them,” she said. “I am deeply humbled to have received 14,750 votes and view it as a sacred responsibility to do right by each and every voter, and the entire district at large.

“I spent almost a year on the campaign trail, earning the trust of the voters in my district, and I’m looking forward to representing them in Albany.”

During the Democratic Primary, Frontus, who was opposed by Ethan Lustig-Elgraby, won the race by a rather-thin 51 votes.

She said a number of factors led to her victory in the Primary, “including the fact that I had been running for the seat for a longer period than him and had gotten to know more people across all corners of the district than he had.

“I had very little money, but I had spent months attending community meetings and getting to know people and their families on a first name basis,” Frontus said. “There was also a higher voter turnout in Bay Ridge among Democratic voters, which worked in my favor.”

But, in the midterm elections, in a four-way race, Frontus blew her opponents away.

She received 14, 750 votes, or 51.84 percent; Republican Steven Saperstein received 11, 823 votes, or 41.55 percent; Lustig-Elgrably, of the Working Families Party, received 421 votes, or 1.48 percent; and Patrick Dwyer, of the Green Party, received 284 votes, or 1.00 percent.

“My win was part of the Blue Wave, which took over Bay Ridge and led to the victories of Max Rose for Congress and Andrew Gournades for State Senate.

“There was high voter turnout and enthusiasm among Democratic voters,” she noted.

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