Welcome to the 14th edition of this NYC election-focused newsletter, finally entering a takeaway phase after the votes have for the most part all been counted. I’m independent journalist Felipe De La Hoz, and I’m writing to you after the city Board of Elections has released preliminary results for the ranked-choice primary, now including over 120,000 absentee ballots that had yet to be counted in the first releases. The main result here is that, barring any enormous errors in the uncertified count, it’s clear that Eric Adams will be the Democratic nominee and almost certainly this New York City’s 110th mayor.
Adams would be the second Black mayor of the city, following David Dinkins’ one-term tenure from 1990 to 1994. This election cycle is likely to feature a number of firsts, though, and we thought we’d highlight some of them here.
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First come-from-behind ranked-choice victories: While Kathryn García surprised everyone by coming from significantly behind to within a percentage point of Adams, she did not ultimately pull off the upset. There were, however, a couple races where candidates who did not win the plurality of votes in the first round seem to be on track to secure wins in the final round.
In a nail-biter of a race for City Council district 9, which includes Harlem and other parts of Upper Manhattan, local activist Kristin Richardson Jordan lost in every round up until the 13th and final round, when she suddenly gained enough down-ranked votes to surpass incumbent Bill Perkins, ending up with 50.3 percent of the active ballots to Perkins’ 49.7 percent. Perkins had shocked political observers by running for reelection despite unspecified serious health problems that had kept him from public life, and relied on the strength of his name recognition.
In the district 25 race, which includes Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and other parts of Queens, civil rights lawyer Shekar Krishnan overcame an early lead by entrepreneur Yi (Andy) Chen in the fifth round of tabulations, ending up with 53.4 percent to Chen’s 46.6 percent in the seventh and final round.
First South Asian Council members: Krishnan, the son of immigrants from South India, will likely be part of the first group of South Asian City Council members. The group also includes Shahana Hanif, daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, staffer for outgoing Council member Brad Lander, and winner of the district 39 race to represent Park Slope and other Brooklyn neighborhoods; and Felicia Singh, daughter of Indo-Caribbean immigrants and teacher (and friend of the newsletter) who is the winner of the district 32 race to represent Rockaway Park, Howard Beach, and other Queens neighborhoods. Singh, unlike most of her fellow Democratic primary winners, will probably face stiff competition in the general election from her Republican opponent, Joann Ariola, given the district’s more conservative bent.
First full-ballot ranked-choice candidate alliance: Another first unique to our new ranked-choice system is the first alliance of candidates running as a group for the entire five-candidate ranked ballot. While García and Andrew Yang made headlines for campaigning together in the waning days of the campaign, contenders in the district 7 primary, which includes parts of Upper Manhattan stretching from Washington Heights to the Upper West Side, took it to the extreme by forming an alliance of no less than five candidates. Marti Allen-Cummings, Stacy Lynch, Dan Cohen, Maria Ordoñez, and Corey Ortega all ran as a block to fill out the whole ballot, specifically in an effort to stop tenants’ rights attorney Shaun Abreu from winning the race, in a clear indication of how the new system might fundamentally shift campaigns going forward. The gambit was ultimately unsuccessful, as Abreu won easily with 63.1 percent of the vote in the 13th and final round.
Youngest and first Zoomer City Council member: Chi Ossé, an activist and Black Lives Matter member, is set to topple now-Congressman Ritchie Torres as the youngest person ever elected to the New York City Council. The openly gay 23-year-old Ossé won the primary for district 36, which includes Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, and other parts of Brooklyn, making him a lock to enter the Council next year as the body’s first Generation Z member. He has run on a platform centered on rerouting police funding to social services and programs.
First majority-women City Council: Women are likely to double their numbers in the City Council, going from a current 14 to 28 out of 51, representing not only an impressive leap year-over-year, but also the first time that women will form a majority of the legislative body. Among the likely recent arrivals are Hanif, who would also be the first Muslim woman. Jordan and district 35 primary winner Crystal Hudson would jointly be the first Black and LGBT women to join the Council.
Other takeaways: The Democratic Socialists of America, who despite their growing political influence, are very careful about issuing endorsements, claimed two victories out of six endorsements for City Council seats. While some viewed this as a defeat for the ascendant progressive organization, its victories with the high-profile Tiffany Cabán in the district 22 race — which includes Astoria and other parts of Queens — and Alexa Avilés in the district 38 race — including Sunset Park, Red Hook, and other Brooklyn neighborhoods — were significant and establish an explicit DSA foothold in the City Council. Many other candidates, while not DSA-endorsed, are openly in the progressive wing of the party.
One of the biggest shocks of the primary election was the defeat of Alicka Ampry-Samuel, the incumbent City Council member for district 41, which includes Brownsville and other parts of Brooklyn, by challenger and former Council member Darlene Mealy. Ampry-Samuel had been seen as a contender for speaker of the City Council, while Mealy had a very checkered record during her decade-long tenure representing the same district. In 2017, she was named the worst New York City lawmaker by City & State, and had drawn criticism for shady dealings in her official position. Still, with no other candidates running for a seat that was seen as a given for the incumbent, Mealy managed to pull an upset, winning 57.3 percent of the vote outright, with no further rounds necessary.
How are New Yorkers feeling post-results? My colleague Andrea Pineda-Salgado headed out to Kew Gardens this week to ask some of them.
Michael: I think [Adams] is a great guy, I think he is a guy that New York is looking for and that is a really big change for the whole New York and our community as well.
María: I don’t know what change is going to happen but Adams–let’s put it like this, none of them were my choice but anything other than de Blasio is fine. That’s how I feel. Adams will be good I guess, it’s just the same thing… he seems to be for the people, but that’s what they all say until they get into office.
Yuri: [Adams] is gonna be the best I guess, because he was a policeman, he knows the problems in New York, so I’m hoping he is going to be a good man.
We also want to turn to politics overseas–but very much affecting our fellow New Yorkers.
Yesterday, the president of Haiti was assassinated, sending the country into chaos. The Haitian Times is our cousin publication (both Epicenter and the Haitian Times are members of the URL Media Network) and we applaud its stellar coverage. Check out its site. Don’t miss unique angles only possible from a community news outlet like this one: an excerpt from the poet Danielle Legros Georges, for example.
In one hundred years
what will we know of this moment?
Its worsening when we thought
things could fall no deeper.
What more can be asked of a people
who live with death in all corners,
who continue to get up,
saying to life there is no other choice.
What we’re reading:
Eric Adams Wins as Democratic Nominee for NYC Mayor; Garcia and Wiley Concede
The Haitian Times
Diaspora laments assassination, calls for answers and direction
This newsletter was written by Felipe De La Hoz for URL Media, a network of Black and Brown news and information outlets. Our collaborative elections coverage is sponsored by a grant from the Center for Cooperative Media.