A professional-Trump Republican candidate who opposes COVID-19 vaccine mandates has an actual likelihood of profitable a City Council seat in southern Brooklyn, in keeping with political sources within the borough.
Candidate Inna Vernikov — a 37-year-old lawyer and Jewish Ukrainian native — is working in opposition to Democrat Steve Saperstein.
The candidates for the forty eighth Council District are vying to succeed ex-Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who forfeited his seat earlier this yr after getting convicted of tax fraud.
The district consists of many Russian-speaking and Jewish immigrants within the communities of Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay and Homecrest.
Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans within the district — however voter registration is deceiving.
Donald Trump trounced Joe Biden within the district in final yr’s presidential race, which implies droves of moderate-to-conservative crossed over to again the GOP incumbent.
“This is a very competitive race. This is an area of Brooklyn where Donald Trump did extremely well,” mentioned a veteran Brooklyn Democrat who is aware of the district nicely.
The supply mentioned Vernikov might catch hearth with Russian-speaking voters.
In one of many quirks within the race, Vernikov is a Democrat-turned-Republican, whereas Saperstein ran for council as a Republican in 2017 after which re-enrolled as a Democrat.
He beforehand grabbed headlines when he prompt that disgraced lawmakers convicted of corruption needs to be paraded in handcuffs by their house districts.
A staunch champion of Israel, Vernikov mentioned she would combat to revive funding to the NYPD and again merit-based schooling and college alternative — together with prodding Albany to go a state legislation to elevate the cap that stops the opening of constitution faculties. She additionally would search to ban inserting homeless shelters close to faculties.
Vernikov didn’t draw back from her help of Trump in final yr’s presidential race when just lately speaking to The Post.
“I did vote for Trump. He was the best president we’ve had for Israel and the Jews,” she mentioned.
She is supported by former Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a conservative Democrat who she beforehand labored for and who usually helps Republicans and is revered by numerous Orthodox Jewish voters in southern Brooklyn.
She mentioned she desires to be a voice in opposition to the left-wing of the Democratic Party, which for instance opposed the congressional invoice to assist fund Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system to guard the Mideast nation from assaults. Vernikov referred to as the rising opposition to the Jewish state amongst Democrats “very alarming.” Critics of the funding have included Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Saperstein, a special-education trainer, has refused to say who he voted for within the presidential race.
Both candidates mentioned they’re specializing in bread-and-butter constituent issues.
“My first priority as councilwoman would be to propose a bill to re-fund the Police Department,” Vernikov mentioned.
Vernikov, who runs her personal legislation observe, mentioned she is going to advocate for small companies and opposes turning restaurateurs and retail shops into primarily the well being police by having them implement COVID-19 public-health edicts.
“I oppose vaccine mandates,” she mentioned.
“We’re going to have a nursing shortage” as a result of medical staff will refuse to get immunized, even when it means they lose their jobs, she mentioned.
Vernikov mentioned the choice about whether or not to get vaccinated needs to be a private one and as a substitute of a mandate helps individuals getting examined usually for COVID-19.
On schooling, Vernikov mentioned she would combat to broaden college selections for folks and college students — together with selling religious-based and constitution faculties in addition to conventional public faculties.
The Democratic-run state Legislature has refused to elevate the cap on the variety of constitution faculties that may function in New York City, a transfer that has blocked scores of recent faculties from opening.
“I think we should have more charter schools. I don’t support the cap on charter schools,” Vernikov mentioned.
Vernikov mentioned she helps “merit-based” schooling and the controversial present admissions-test requirements on the metropolis’s specialised excessive faculties and opposes watering down or eliminating gifted-and-talented applications for college kids.
On one other unstable concern, Vernikov mentioned she desires to bar town from opening homeless amenities close to faculties.
She prompt her candidacy is such a risk to Democrats that some could also be concerned in foul play to thwart her marketing campaign.
Vernikov just lately filed a police criticism after claiming somebody hacked into her Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Facebook disabled her accounts, blocking what it deemed objectionable content material and claiming the 37-year-old candidate was too younger to have an account.
Vernikov mentioned she by no means posted inflammatory or false info.
“I find it extremely suspicious that the day I post that my opponent refuses to debate me that my Facebook account gets hacked and that Facebook says I’m too young to own a Facebook page,” she mentioned.
Saperstein denied his marketing campaign had any position in hacking Vernikov’s social media accounts.
“I’m not going to get involved in her drama. Mark Zuckerberg is not on my speed dial,” he mentioned, referring to the Facebook founder.
“I’m taking this race very seriously,” Saperstein mentioned.
Saperstein claims to be the “law and order” candidate as a result of he’s backed by town Police Benevolent Association.
The son of deaf mother and father and a deaf brother, Saperstein realized signal language at a younger age and have become a trainer for college kids with disabilities.
He declined to say whether or not he supported lifting the cap to open extra constitution faculties.
Saperstein mentioned he and Vernikov maintain lots of the similar beliefs however claimed he’s “most qualified.”
He mentioned he “hates” the progressive “squad” led by Ocasio-Cortez for being hostile to Israel.
“I’m going to stand up against the crazy Democrats,” mentioned Saperstein, co-founder of the Shorefront Coalition, a volunteer group “dedicated to promoting civic engagement, aiding youth and seniors, and increasing broader participation in community affairs,” in keeping with its Web web site.
He mentioned he’ll are likely to group issues, reminiscent of getting town to scrub up run-down parks and combatting a rising rat drawback.