By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Peter Cooper Village resident Keith Powers and Lower East Side resident Carlina Rivera each won their respective primary races for City Council on Tuesday, following major endorsements for the candidates in the days leading up to voting.
With about 93 percent of the votes counted on Wednesday morning, Powers was declared the winner in the District 4 race with 41.24 percent of the vote and Rivera won the primary for District 2 by a wide margin, receiving 60.76 percent of the vote.
Powers’ closest competitor, Upper East Sider Marti Speranza, received 22.78 percent of the vote. None of the other seven candidates received more than 10 percent of the vote but Rachel Honig and Bessie Schachter came the closest, receiving 8.59 and 8.26 respectively. Vanessa Aronson received 6.68 percent and Maria Castro got 4.74 percent of the vote. Peter Cooper Village resident Barry Shapiro received 2.10 percent and Alec Hartman got 1.04 percent.
Kips Bay resident Mary Silver was Rivera’s closest competitor but still only received 16.41 percent of the vote. Former Obama staffer Ronnie Cho received 8.5 percent of the vote, community organizer Jasmin Sanchez got 5 percent and attorney Jorge Vasquez received 7.58 percent. East Village resident Erin Hussein technically dropped out of the race prior to the election but still received 1.9 percent of the vote.
Neither of the winners in both districts seemed to be harmed by a bit of controversy in the days leading up to the primary. Speranza’s campaign had sent out a mailer to area residents pointing out Powers’ background as a lobbyist for a firm where clients included fossil fuel interests and real estate developers the weekend before the election and on Monday, the New York Post slammed Rivera, who it was previously reported lives in Section 8 low-income housing, because now-deleted social media photos showed her husband, CB3 chair Jamie Rogers, sailing on his father’s yacht. The Post also reported that Rogers owns a Grand Street apartment that he rents out. Rivera said previously that she and Rogers would move out of the subsidized Lower East Side apartment if she won the Council race.
“Tonight’s result shows that the people of our district are united in the direction that they want for our community,” Rivera said on Tuesday evening after the results were announced. “I’m so appreciative that my neighbors and friends chose me as their candidate. Now I will follow the community’s mandate and push for the needs of each and every one of my constituents. This district has always been a beacon of progress for the rest of the city, and I am excited to continue that tradition forward.”
Voters Town & Village spoke with discussed their reasons for voting the way they did, including State Senator Brad Hoylman, who was out on First Avenue on Tuesday campaigning for Powers.
“This is a huge moment for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper, where we need such strong leadership,” Hoylman said. “Constituents are rightly concerned about the future and they need a Council person on the ground who can articulate it as powerfully as Keith Powers will.”
Powers, in the week leading up to the election got a major boost with endorsements from Hoylman as well as Comptroller Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and over the weekend, Council Member Dan Garodnick. He’d previously been endorsed by TenantsPAC.
On Wednesday, he issued a statement, thanking his supporters.
“I am humbled to earn the Democratic nomination for the 4th Council District seat,” said Powers. “For nearly a year, I’ve connected with East Siders, from Stuyvesant Town to the Upper East Side. I would not be here today without their support. I look forward to continuing to put forth new ideas for affordable housing, public education, and government reform.”
Former ST-PCV Tenants Association president John Marsh said that he was undecided in the election, trying to decide between Powers and Speranza, until he received the mailer about Powers.
“I was considering Marti but I felt it was important to have a positive campaign and the negative mailer tipped it,” he said.
Janice Sears and Ellen Alpert, who have been partners for 23 years and are residents of Stuyvesant Town, both voted in the Democratic primary but for different candidates.
Alpert said that she voted for Speranza because she wants to see more women in local government.
“I know that (Powers) was endorsed by the New York Times and Garodnick but I really want more representation for women in City Council,” she said.
Sears said that she decided on Powers because of his longtime connection to and understanding of the neighborhood.
“We have a lot of issues that are important in this neighborhood that we need good representation for,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that there’s someone in the seat who has our best interests in mind and understands what we need.”
Poll sites around Gramercy and ST-PCV were relatively quiet late Tuesday morning but workers in a poll site at 451 East 14th Street said that turnout had been relatively high so far, at least for a primary election.
At a 22nd Street polling place, Gramercy resident Henry Kattan said he voted for Silver because he felt she was the best qualified. He added that this was the first election he’s voted in for the last 15 years.
“I figured it’s about time I got started because I’m not happy with how things are going,” he said, referring to the political climate in both in the city and the country, and added that he voted for opponents of incumbents, for mayoral candidate Mike Tolkin and public advocate candidate David Eisenbach.
A husband and wife, residents of Irving Place and East 18th Street who did not want to give their names, said they also voted for Silver, partially because they got the chance to speak with her in person.
“One of the things that prompted me to vote was the person-to-person interaction,” the man said. “We met her so we felt more inclined to vote for her.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who won his primary with 74.18 percent of the vote, announced last Friday that he was endorsing Rivera in the primary, citing her strong record on education advocacy and deep neighborhood roots.
Rivera was also endorsed by Tenants PAC, the New York League of Conservation Voters and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh.
The Thursday prior to the election, East Village resident and candidate Erin Hussein announced that she would be supporting Lower East Side resident Jorge Vasquez and was ending her campaign, although despite dropping out, she received 1.9 percent of the vote on Election Day.
She said that one of her primary reasons for withdrawing from the race and putting her support behind Vasquez, who got 7.58 percent of the vote, is his background.
“I’ve lived here for a long time and got to know it even better during my campaign, but at the end of the day it makes the most sense to have the district represented by someone who is Latino, because he can speak to the unique issues from that part of the district,” she said. “The demographics are changing but that’s still true for the most part.”
Vasquez said that he was happy to receive Hussein’s endorsement.
“She has run a positive campaign about important issues in our neighborhoods, and I look forward to working with her moving forward,” Vasquez said.
Incumbent Public Advocate Letitia James also won her primary against challenger David Eisenbach with 76.38 percent of the vote.