Ari Kagan is an American politician who is a member of the New York City Council from the 47th district, representing Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Gravesend, and Sea Gate. Elected in November 2021, he assumed office on January 1, 2022.
As a military journalist, he worked in Soviet Latvia with the newspapers Sovetskiy Tankist in Dobele and Dlya Rodiny! in Riga. Kagan said that he was "lucky to work in various papers during the Gorbachev era of Glasnost and Perestroika when criticism of authorities was allowed and sometimes even encouraged". He told TabletMag that "I was not a dissident. But I was honest with myself, with my family, with my readers."
In Brooklyn, Kagan worked as a writer for the Russian-language newspapers Yevreiski Mir and Vecherniy New York. He also presented a weekly television program on the Brooklyn-based Russian Television Network of America (RTN).
Democratic Party politics
In 2012, he was elected as a Democratic District Leader in the 45th New York State Assembly District and founded the political club Bay Democrats in 2014. In December 2022, Kagan switched parties from Democratic to Republican in December 2022, giving up his District Leader post.
Work for elected officials
Kagan worked as a community liaison for Comptrollers John Liu and Scott Stringer, as an assistant to Congressman Michael McMahon and later as Director of District Operations to Council Member Mark Treyger, before succeeding Treyger in the City Council.
In November 2021, he was elected to the New York City Council, succeeding Mark Treyger. He has announced that he would run for re-election.
After switching his party affiliation to Republican due to his disagreements with Democrats, Kagan joined Republican minority conference in City Council. Council Speaker Adrienne Adams suggested Kagan may lose his position as Chair of the Council's Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts. "Voters sent Council member Kagan to the Council as a member of the majority conference and this drastic about-face seriously calls into question his commitment to the policy priorities of our conference that will impact his committee roles, particularly his chairmanship given the fact that he is joining a party that denies climate change," Adams said. Kagan resigned from the Committee Chairmanship shortly after, telling the Daily News that "I resigned rather than to wait until being expelled by the Council leadership."