De Blasio, Lhota, Mendez, Brewer top in primary
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
After a long and contentious primary season and a race with more Democrats than can be counted on one hand, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio climbed to the top of the pack in the election on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, it was still unclear whether or not de Blasio, who at times during the campaign lagged in fourth place behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and former Congressman Anthony Weiner, would avoid a runoff with Thompson.
According to election results from the New York Times, de Blasio won all of the districts in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, as well as most of the surrounding districts except for some in the Flatiron area and Gramercy, which went to Quinn. The Republican primary was only slightly more split, with former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota winning all of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village districts except two.
The race was too close to call between de Blasio and Thompson on Tuesday night. While various news sources put de Blasio slightly over the requisite 40 percent at around midnight, Thompson said that he would continue his campaign until all of the ballots were counted, which could take days. As of Wednesday morning, the Board of Elections said that de Blasio had 40.13 percent of the vote with Thompson at 26.16 percent.
Quinn, the longtime frontrunner, conceded on Tuesday night with only 15 percent of the vote and disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner ducked out early in the vote-tallying with less than five percent.
On the Republican side, however, the New York Times reported just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday night that Lhota won with 52 percent of the vote and 79 percent of the precincts reporting over businessman John Catsimatidis.
City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez’s race was one of the first City Council contests called, and she was declared the winner on Tuesday night. According to the Board of Elections, Mendez received 81.25 percent of the vote, with challenger Richard Del Rio getting 18.75 percent. City Councilmember Gale Brewer won the primary for Manhattan borough president, and since there is no Republican challenger, she will take the seat. Brewer won the election with 39.57 percent of the vote with City Councilmember Jessica Lappin coming in second with 23.71 percent. WNYC reported just before 11 p.m. that there would be a runoff on October 1 for public advocate, between City Councilmembers Letitia James and Daniel Squadron.
Due to recent district changes, voting has been a somewhat confusing process for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents who weren’t sure where their correct polling place was and in Tuesday’s primary, there was still confusion about where some residents should be going to cast their vote.
The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association sent an email to residents on the morning of the election, notifying voters that there were no polling sites at the Asser Levy Recreation Center or at 17 Stuyvesant Oval. A sign outside the recreation center informed voters that the polling place had moved to 360 First Avenue in Peter Cooper Village.
A representative for the BOE said that the polling site at Asser Levy was moved, not due to any district changes, but because all voting sites have to comply with ADA accessibility and they were unable to rectify the inaccessibility at that location. No information was available about why the site at 17 Stuyvesant Oval was no longer open.
According to the rep, the BOE sent a letter to all registered voters in August informing them of the change, but a number of confused residents showed up at Asser Levy anyway, saying that they never got notification about the different location.
Poll worker Al Becker noted that the district changes have caused a lot of confusion about where to vote in recent elections but he said that this Election Day seemed to be going relatively smoothly, especially compared to last year when the elections were so soon after Hurricane Sandy. “But you can’t even really make the comparison because after the hurricane, everything was a mess,” he added. “After Sandy, everything was totally abnormal.”
Becker, who has worked at about 10 primary elections and was the site coordinator at the 360 First Avenue location, said that the turnout looked “pretty okay” for a primary by late morning and while he said that the area has more registered Democrats than Republicans, he couldn’t tell at that point what voter turnout was like for each.
Out of the handful of residents that T&V spoke to at the polls on Tuesday morning outside the polling place at 360 First Avenue, all were Democrats and most were supporting de Blasio. One of the major issues that motivated Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper residents to the polls for the election was, unsurprisingly, affordable housing.
“Affordable housing is always the top issue,” said Stuyvesant Town resident John, who declined to give his last name. “I don’t want another hands-off mayor if Stuyvesant Town is going to get sold.”
One Stuyvesant Town resident, a Democrat who didn’t want to be named, said that she’s unhappy with the direction in which Bloomberg has brought the city, not only in terms of housing but also with the growing income inequality in general.
“You don’t close a hospital and cede the rights of it to a real estate developer for condos,” she said, referring to the fate of St. Vincent’s Hospital. “You maintain that hospital. Spending has been slanted towards the people who have money. (Bloomberg’s administration) has been encouraging the real estate sector to create more developments, but with none of it for the middle and low-income people.”
John said that he felt similarly and this is why he voted for de Blasio. “He’s the only person in the race who is addressing income inequality,” he said.
Peter Cooper Village resident Michelle Mackey found the election “unexciting,” saying that she was unenthusiastic about all of the candidates. She ultimately went with Thompson, noting that she was unsure about de Blasio’s platform. “He wants to raise taxes for the rich,” she said. “I don’t know what that would mean for me.”