The special election wrapped this Tuesday, March 22, with new State Assemblymember-elect Brian Cunningham in the 43rd District. The district covers parts of Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn, and is primarily made up of Black, Caribbean, and Jewish communities.

As the polls closed, a gaggle of supporters, rabbis, district leaders, young canvassers, old Democrats, community leaders, and at least one Republican gathered at the atmospheric Lips Cafe at 1412 Nostrand Ave. in Brooklyn. Attendees happily sloshed back fruity island drinks and chatted like one does at a high school reunion while awaiting for the election results.

Cunningham scored 62.28% of the votes for a victory over Working Families Party candidate Jelanie Deshong and Republican candidate Mesidor Azor, according to unofficial election night results posted by the Board of Elections.

“Tonight was a good night. I think it was a reflection of the work we’ve done in the community for a long time. Looking forward to bringing people together,” said Cunningham on Election Night.

Cunningham is native to the district, a long-time community leader, and is replacing former Assemblymember Diana Richardson, who was tapped by Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso to be deputy borough president. His campaign got a major boost last week when Mayor Eric Adams added his endorsement for him in the race.

Brooklyn Democratic Party Leader and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said that she has known Cunningham for over 12 years since they met when she ran for her seat in 2010. Bichotte said that Cunningham is very experienced, dedicated, and a solid staple of the community.

“As you can see in this room, we have a number of people with different ideologies. They’re moderate, they’re progressive. You have different religions, Jewish and Christian showed up to support him. Black, white, Caribbean,” said Bichotte at the cafe on Election Night. “We’re just excited that he is a true representation of this community.”

“Brian has showed that he’s a true unifier,” said Black Lives Matter Brooklyn President Anthony Beckford.

Councilmember Rita Joseph, another fierce supporter of Cunningham’s, was also present at Lips Cafe. She believes that she and Cunningham will be great partners in the city and the state, and share similar interests in housing, education, and health care.

Cunningham will soon be sworn into office and plans to hit the ground running.

“The big thing is the budget,” said Cunningham about next steps. He said he plans on advocating for tenants and homeowners, childcare, health care, and criminal justice reform in the state budget over the two months left until June primaries.

The June primaries is another election cycle that will determine if Cunnigham stays in office.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w

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