Harvey Epstein (right) with an aide at the Stuyvesant Town flea market (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, residents of the 74th Assembly District trickled into polling places, almost exclusively to make Harvey Epstein the next Assembly Member.
Epstein, the Democrat nominee who was also running on the Working Families line, obliterated three other candidates with 90.59 percent of the vote, according to unofficial poll results released by the New York City Board of Elections.
All the now-former candidates are residents of the East Village and had run on platforms that included affordable housing and tenant protections. Pagan is a retired entrepreneur and former corrections employee who’s run for office several times. Cooper is an event planner and the vice president of the Albano Republican Club who’s also run for office before. Craig-Williams is a graduate student and longtime Green Party activist who was running for the first time.
Assembly candidate Bryan Cooper believes it’s unfair Republicans are blamed for the lack of affordable housing. (Photo courtesy of Bryan Cooper)
By Sabina Mollot
In New York City, it’s generally understood that whichever Democrat candidate is on the ballot in a general election is going to win, regardless of who the Republican or third party candidate is. And Bryan Cooper, the Republican hoping to fill the Assembly seat vacated by State Senator Brian Kavanagh, knows this.
Nevertheless, he is hoping three time’s the charm. This will, after all, be the third time he’s run for the 74th District Assembly seat. Cooper, now 51, ran against Kavanagh in 2008 and again in 2014. He also ran against then-City Council Member Rosie Mendez in 2009.
While both incumbents were easily re-elected, Cooper said he’s more hopeful this time since the special election on April 24 is an open one.
He’ll be on the ballot along with Democrat Harvey Epstein who last Monday got the nomination from the Democratic County Committee. That same evening, the Manhattan Republican Party announced it was supporting Cooper.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney chats with a voter in Stuyvesant Town. (Photo courtesy of Congress Member Maloney)
By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, three local Democrats easily held on to their positions as voters, along with re-electing Andrew Cuomo as governor, also re-elected Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh.
Maloney won with 79.85 percent of the vote, defeating former seminary student and former Pfizer employee Nicholas Di iorio, who got 20.15 percent.
Di iorio had fought tooth and nail for each vote though, having sent out near daily press releases blasting his opponent in the weeks leading up to the election on everything from her trip to China to secure a panda for New York to failure to get many bills passed in Washington. For this he labeled her ineffective.
He’d also hounded his opponent for a debate, and did eventually succeed in wearing her down. The only debate of the campaign took place at a newspaper office in Queens last Thursday, focusing on issues of interest to that part of the district.
Meanwhile, by Tuesday morning, Maloney reported doing well with voters she encountered while campaigning.
Many told her they’d be giving her their vote, though she quickly added, “I probably shouldn’t say that. Of course they’re not going to tell me if they weren’t going to vote for me.”
After casting her own vote at the 92nd Street Y, Maloney also made several stops throughout the district, including popping by Stuyvesant Town in the afternoon.
Some voters had gripes about long lines to cast their votes, although this year, without a presidential election, lines weren’t exactly spilling out of polling place doors.“It’s definitely lower (turnout) than in a presidential year, but people are coming out to vote,” said Maloney. She added that she would work on trying to keep lines shorter in the future, either by pushing for more polling sites or the creation of smaller voting districts.
She also said that if reelected, “I’ll be focused like a laser on affordable housing and making sure Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not finance anything that removes affordable housing.”
Other goals included making it easier for people to buy homes, doing away with excessive bank overdraft fees and getting a bill for women’s equality passed, that has, since Maloney’s been in office, failed to do so.
Nicholas Di iorio talks to a voter in Brooklyn. (Photo courtesy of Nicholas Di iorio)
On Tuesday, Di orio was also making various campaign stops around the three-borough district, starting on the Upper East Side, where he lives not far from Maloney, Greenpoint, Brooklyn and later Queens. At around 11 a.m., he was in Manhattan, after voting at Knickerbocker Plaza on 91st Street.
He said for the most part voters he was encountering were familiar with his campaign, having read interviews with him in Town & Village and other newspapers.
When voters stopped to chat with the candidate, typically they had questions that were economy-related. This is where he felt his background working to save money for a pharmaceutical giant worked in his favor.
“It’s been a great day so far,” said Di iorio said. “A lot of the legislators in Congress talk about growing the economy but they haven’t spent time working in economics. That’s one of the differences between me and Congress Member Maloney. I’m trying to help companies and small businesses hire more employees.”
His platform was based around cutting corporate taxes to keep jobs from going overseas.
Later, when asked about the contentious nature of the race, Maloney dismissed her opponent’s steady stream of criticism as a typical Republican tactic.
“The Republicans do not fight on issues,” she said. “They try to destroy the person.”
But not all Republicans used tough guy tactics in this race — or even any tactics at all. Hoylman and Kavanagh both sailed to reelection thanks to their opponents, Stuyvesant Town resident Frank Scala, and East Villager Bryan Cooper, respectively, not running active campaigns.
Kavanagh won with 85.06 percent of the vote, while Cooper got 14.94 percent. Hoylman got 85.66 percent while Scala got 14.34 percent.
State Senate candidate Frank Scala
Scala, who’s the president of the Albano Republican Club and the owner of a Fifth Avenue barber shop, said he only ran for State Senate after being asked by the Republican County Committee. But he didn’t seek attention beyond participating in a candidate forum last week hosted by the 17th Precinct Community Council, which his opponent didn’t attend.
And this wouldn’t be the first time in recent years that local candidates have run just to have a Republican on the ballot. In Manhattan, there hasn’t been a Republican elected since the late Roy Goodman left the State Senate in 2002.
Cooper, who, like Scala, has run for office locally before, told Town & Village he had been genuinely interested in running for Assembly, but had wanted to try doing it in a “grassroots” way. He didn’t build a campaign website or attempt to get press, choosing instead to walk around the Lower East Side and the East Village, mostly, as well as Stuy Town where he said he’s noticed a “strong Republican presence.”
“People do come to our club meetings,” he said, referring to the Albano Club, in which he’s a district leader. “People feel like our interests are not being represented. We need a Republican, especially on the Lower East Side.”
Cooper, a production assistant and Navy veteran, said he’d been hearing disgust from his neighbors about corruption in Albany and Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission’s dismantling. Lack of jobs was another concern.
Assembly candidate Bryan Cooper
“We want more businesses to be here, less taxes. There’s more unemployment and the homeless situation has risen. Why is this? Businesses are leaving New York.”
He also said that following Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to end stop-and-frisk, he’s found that people no longer feel safe.
“Ever since they stopped stop-and-frisk, people are like, ‘I’m out of here,’” he said. “What’s the point of having a police force when your hands are tied? What’s the problem with stopping and asking a question or checking your bag?”
On his low-key campaign, he explained it was mainly due to money reasons, but he also wanted to see “how effective it would be,” since he is already planning a run for State Senate. “Maybe if this doesn’t work out, I’ll learn my lesson.”