By Vania André
BROOKLYN, NY — New York City Councilman Mathieu Eugene successfully defended his seat in the 40th Council District against political hopeful Brian Cunningham during the Nov. 7 general election.
Eugene, who faced a difficult primary election, beat out Cunningham winning more than 60 percent of the vote.
There was speculation that the history-making incumbent — Eugene was the first Haitian elected to NYC Council — would have lost his seat considering the dismal support he received in the primaries, coupled with the Working Families Party’s endorsement of his challenger. In the end however, Cunningham was only able to secure about a third of the vote.
“Mathieu Eugene had the backing of the political machine in Brooklyn and is very hard to beat, said Dr. Francois Pierre-Louis a political science professor at Queens College. “[He] had support from the churches, 1199 and Una and Yvette Clarke’s network.”
The election was not without its controversies. There were several allegations against Eugene and his camp of voter intimidation and illegal campaigning at poll sites.
The Councilman responded to the accusations on Twitter saying “It is unfortunate that my opponent is accusing me of illegal campaigning practices, while he himself has gone to several poling sites.”
It is unfortunate that my opponent is accusing me of illegal campaign practices, while he himself has gone to several polling sites…. https://t.co/noYIwhgjT2 #Election2017
— Dr. Mathieu Eugene (@CMMathieuEugene) November 7, 2017
Despite his denials of culpability. Several witnesses shared images and video of Eugene at polling locations.
Here he is at another polling location – noon, PS 217 pic.twitter.com/jf2ZbSCdrj
— VB (@virginiab16) November 7, 2017
.@NYSBOE @AGSchneiderman here is photo evidence of councilman @MathieuEugene electioneering inside polling location he did not vote at pic.twitter.com/Sv4ICDRrd9
— JawnTawn (@realjonbock) November 7, 2017
Eugene has been a polarizing figure in the Haitian community. While many applaud the history he’s made as the first Haitian elected to City Council and his work for Haiti disaster relief efforts, there are also those who criticize his legislative record and lack of attention to the affordable housing crisis taking place in his district.
“First and foremost, I want to give praise and glory to the almighty and holy God for this remarkable victory. I also want to take an opportunity to thank my supporters who have allowed me to continue serving the hardworking people of New York City,” Eugene said. “I believe that by working together, we can accomplish so much for our community, and that is what I am committed to doing during my remaining time in office. “