Council could become less progressive: TenantsPAC

Mike McKee of TenantsPAC (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The City Council could become less progressive next year following the elections, TenantsPAC treasurer and spokesperson Mike McKee is warning.

According to McKee, while some leading City Council candidates, Democratic nominees Keith Powers of District 4 and Carlina Rivera of District 2, are known to be tenant-friendly, elsewhere in the city, the likely winners are more conservative.

In an article McKee recently penned for Tenant, the monthly newsletter put out by Met Council on Housing, he noted how Bronx Assembly Member Mark Gjonaj, a landlord who’s repeatedly voted against repealing vacancy deregulation in Albany, beat a pro-tenant opponent, Marjorie Velasquez in the primary. Gnonaj, who spent $700,000 in the race (more than $200 for each vote he got) probably would have lost, McKee said, if a third candidate, John Doyle, hadn’t run and gotten 1,600 votes.

“Doyle based his campaign around (attacking) Mark Gjonaj, so if (voters) didn’t vote for him, they would have voted for Marjorie Velasquez,” McKee explained. “So there’s no question that she would have won.”

Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights in Brooklyn is also an area where Republicans are competitive, McKee wrote, so union-backed Democrat Justin Brannan “will have a tough contest” in November against GOP nominee John Quaglione for the term-limited Vincent Gentile’s seat.

He added that the upcoming General Election, though less competitive than the recent primary, still could offer some surprises in Manhattan.

“The Garodnick seat could go to the Republican (Rebecca Harary),” said McKee. “It’s happened in the past, but I suspect Keith will win.”

TenantsPAC (Political Action Committee) has endorsed Powers as well as Rivera.

While rent regulations are determined in Albany, some tenant/housing regulation can be determined by City Hall, such as the recently passed package of bills aimed at protecting tenants from construction as harassment.

“There are things they can do,” McKee said, “and this City Council has done a lot. We want to see that continue.”

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