By Sabina Mollot
Tuesday, November 7 is Election Day for citywide races that include mayor, comptroller, district attorney, public advocate and City Council as well as borough president. Local races of interest however are really limited to the Council due to the open seats in Districts 2 and 4.
Town & Village has previously interviewed all the candidates in those two Council races, except District 2 Libertarian Donald Garrity, who couldn’t be reached. But for those still on the fence about who to vote for, read on for a cheat sheet on who’s on the ballot.
For Dan Garodnick’s Council seat in District 4:
Democrat Keith Powers, a lifelong resident of Peter Cooper Village, most recently worked for lobbying firm Constantinople & Vallone as its vice present. He has also worked in public service, for Assembly Member Jonathan Bing and State Senator Liz Krueger. Civic service has included leading the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club as its president, chairing Community Board 6’s Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee and becoming a board member of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association. His campaign is focused on affordable housing, renters’ rights, education, including making sure there enough pre-K seats on the East Side, and fighting climate change. He’s been endorsed by all the district’s elected officials, including Garodnick, and has raised the most campaign cash. He considers helping small businesses a priority and while he hasn’t endorsed the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, said he is open to seeing it at least get a hearing.
Rebecca Harary, a Republican from the Upper East Side, has run for office before. Last year, she ran unsuccessfully against Assembly Member Dan Quart, though she got over a third of the vote. She now, as she did then, has the backing of the Manhattan Republican Party. The Orthodox Jewish mother of six (and grandmother) is hoping Democrats who are frustrated with the mayor will give her a chance despite her party. Along with running as a Republican, Harary is also a candidate on an alternative “Stop de Blasio” line, the Women’s Equality line and the Reform Party.
She has a history of work in education and nonprofits, having founded a school for autistic children in Brooklyn, a high school for students with disabilities, also in Brooklyn, a still-in-the-works Jewish community center on the Upper East Side, and an organization that funds vocational school education for women. Her priorities include saving small businesses by passing the SBJSA (after removing questionable language), fighting city-imposed fines and doing away with Commercial Rent Tax completely. Other priorities are homelessness and safety and quality of life.
Rachel Honig, a Democrat, is now running on the Liberal Party line. The candidate became interested in politics when working for the administration of a Republican governor, George E. Pataki in the late 1990s for the state’s Council on the Arts. She later moved on to a career in public relations, running her own firm.
A longtime resident of East Midtown, her top concerns are retail blight and ensuring better planning for the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway to protect nearby businesses. She is also focused on affordable housing and as far as education goes, a major concern is lead in the water in schools. Along the campaign trail she has also become an advocate for bicycle safety, after hearing from disgusted pedestrians and cyclists alike. As a candidate she views herself as socially liberal but fiscally conservative. She supports passing some version of the SBJSA and wants to see reform of how the City Council is run, so the speaker couldn’t block legislation like the aforementioned one from getting a hearing.
For Rosie Mendez’s Council seat in District 2:
Carlina Rivera, a Democrat, bested a crowd of six in the primary, thanks in part to support from local clubs and elected officials, including her former boss, Mendez. Her platform: Affordability, renters’ rights, tackling inequity in schools. A lifelong Lower East Sider, she got the bug for public service early and has served on Community Board 3. She also worked for the nonprofit Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) before working for Mendez. To help small businesses, she supports the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.
Jasmin Sanchez, a Democrat, is still in the running due to also having entered on the race on the Liberal Party line. Like Rivera, she is a lifelong Lower East Sider and has worked for an elected official, then-State Senator Daniel Squadron, as well as GOLES. She is focused on mental healthcare, affordable housing and homelessness, and supports the SBJSA.
Jimmy McMillan, running as a Republican as well as on his own The Rent is Too Damn High Party, is focused on a single issue, and has said he would like to see the rents halved across the board. Though rent regulations are determined in Albany, McMillan said he would push the state legislature to act.
McMillan, an East Village resident, is recognizable from his previous runs for office, including for governor and even president, and the fact that he’s been spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” for his mantra of “The rent is too damn high.”
He is a Vietnam veteran who would also push for more services for veterans and more rights for renters. He claims he was once attacked and doused with gasoline when he worked as an investigator. McMillan has been backed by the Manhattan Republican Party.
Manny Cavaco, a Green Party candidate, has run an almost entirely inactive campaign, since he has said he knows he won’t win. The truck driver and teamster, a Lower East Side resident, admitted to becoming a candidate for the purpose of drawing attention to an issue he cares about, a proposal to create a public bank in New York with profits that go to taxpayers instead of executives. He is already planning future unsuccessful campaigns.
Donald Garrity is a dietician for cancer patients who’s running as a Libertarian. According to a brief promotional video on YouTube, he is interested in smaller government, and helping local businesses by easing restrictions and fees. He is a longtime resident of Kips Bay.
Manhattan Borough President
Because this isn’t an open seat race, like the race for mayor, the one for borough president isn’t being seen as being especially competitive. However, the following candidates are on the ballot:
Democrat incumbent Gale Brewer, who is seeking a second term, has made saving mom-and-pops a signature issue. However, legislation she sponsored as an alternative to the SBJSA, which would have given storefront business owners the ability to go through mediation and non-binding arbitration, hasn’t passed. She has supported the recent East Midtown Rezoning plan and Garodnick’s ongoing attempt to reform the Commercial Rent Tax. She doesn’t believe the SBJSA will ever pass, having worked on the bill as an aide to then-City Council Member Ruth Messinger. She later served on the Council for 12 years, representing the Upper West Side. In the 1990s she also served as a deputy public advocate.
Frank Scala is a Republican and resident of Stuyvesant Town who’s run for office several times, the past few as a favor to the party. A barber by profession at his own shop, Scala is also a community activist, leading the Albano Republican Club as its president and the 13th Precinct Community Council as its president for years now. He is running a mostly inactive race, but said priorities are combating retail blight, safety and quality of life issues including homelessness and supporting the NYPD.
Green Party candidate Daniel Vila Rivera has run for Congress twice in recent years, according to Ballotpedia. Professionally, the Harlem resident is the co-producer and co-host of WBAI’s La Voz Latina and he described himself an anti-war, labor rights activist who has been a member of the Harlem Tenants Council. Based on blog posts from a previous congressional campaign, Vila Rivera is pro-$15 minimum wage and wants to increase funding for Section 8 housing and invest in new low income housing. He also wants to invest in public schools, not charters.
Brian Waddell is a Reform and Libertarian Party candidate, who, on his website, acknowledges that the position of borough president “does not include any ability to affect change beyond championing a cause” due to lack of legislative powers. In fact, the Upper West Sider goes on to say, the purpose of his campaign is to eliminate the position, as he wants to reduce waste in city government. If he wins, he said he would propose a bill to do just this to the City Council on his first day in office. Waddell is a photographer and writer by profession. He is also the vice chair of the Libertarian Party of New York as well as political director and former chair of the Manhattan Libertarian Party. Reached by phone, he said he’d gotten the idea to do away with the post from the Bloomberg administration, saying it was proposed at one point as a means to streamline the government. Waddell also insisted if elected, he wouldn’t then find new causes to champion once in office.
“No,” he said. “The borough president doesn’t have the ability to do much beyond making recommendations so my recommendation is to get rid of the position.”
Special Election for State Senate, District 26
Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh recently became the Democratic nominee for former State Senator Daniel Squadron’s downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfront Senate seat. Because of the timing of Squadron’s recent resigning, the election for this state position will take place in this week’s city general election.
The only other candidate in this race is Republican Analicia Alexander of Brooklyn, who City and State reports is a political newcomer and pre-K teacher. Despite Kavanagh’s nomination coming from a backroom Democratic Party boss deal, he is still seen as the likely winner.
Those eligible to vote will have to live in Squadron’s district, not Senator Brad Hoylman’s, which means most of Kavanagh’s current constituents in Assembly District 74, like those in Stuyvesant Town and Waterside, will not be able to vote for him. There is currently no race for his Assembly seat since that seat won’t technically be open unless he wins. If he loses, he will simply continue in his Assembly position.