High voter turnout at Democratic Primaries, voters choose Hoylman, Mella and Kavanagh

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Brad Hoylman

Voters in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village had three decisions on their ballots for the Democratic Primaries yesterday: the spot for Tom Duane’s Senate seat, Surrogate’s Court judge for Manhattan and the seat for the Assembly, 74th District.

Brad Hoylman, a Greenwich Village resident, came out on top in the State Senate race with 67.4 percent of the vote. Opponents Tom Greco received 23.9 percent of the vote and Tanika Inlaw received 8.7 percent.

Rita Mella

Rita Mella, a Stuyvesant Town resident, won the primary with 59.7 percent of the vote over Barbara Jaffe’s 40.3 percent for the Surrogate’s Court judge position, and incumbent Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh won with 63 percent. Challenger Juan Pagan received 37 percent of the vote.

The polls at the Asser Levy Recreation Center were quiet with only about 10 percent of registered voters coming by 4 p.m., according to voting coordinator and Peter Cooper Village resident Kathleen Kalmes, but many of the other sites for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents reported being busier than usual, especially for a primary election.

“Primaries usually have a small turnout because I think some people might feel like there’s no point since this is a Democratic area in general,” said the site coordinator at 272 First Avenue who didn’t want to be named. “But this has been a busy day, especially compared to the Republican Primary a few months ago.”

Brian Kavanagh

Clarieel Reyes, who was working the polls at 360 First Avenue and who has worked in primary elections in the past, said that over a hundred people had voted at her table alone and the other tables at that site had similar numbers. “This one has had a pretty good turnout, more than past Democratic primaries, from what I’ve seen in previous elections,” she said.

Due to redistricting, there was some confusion among voters about where their poll sites would be. The most notable change for some, according to the coordinator at 272 First Ave., was that a handful of voters in Stuyvesant Town were now supposed to vote at the location in Peter Cooper Village. One irate voter came into 360 First Avenue and was frustrated about where he was supposed to vote, but poll workers said that while there was some confusion about where to go, most were not too put out by the changes, even if they had to go to a different poll site.

Arnie Latterman, a Stuyvesant Town resident who was working as a scanner inspector at the 525 East 14th Street poll site, said that there were a number of referrals throughout the day at his location. “We made at least 40 referrals because there were people who came in (to this location) and didn’t vote here,” he said.

Despite the lower turnout expected at the primaries compared to the general election, voters felt strongly about the decisions they had to make. “Even though they’re all Democrats, there’s a wide variance in the candidates,” Latterman said. “One is maybe a bit more progressive than the others and depending on personal preference, that can be important.”

Others who came out said they felt obligated to vote to have their voice heard.

“Primaries are just as important as the final election,” said Stuyvesant Town resident Gary Wiss after voting. “Putting a ballot in the box is a special kind of thing. It’s democracy in action.”

Public school teacher running for Duane’s seat

Tanika Inlaw

Primary Day is Thursday, September 13. Town & Village is running bios of Democrat candidates for the positions of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge and the State Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Duane.

This article was originally published on July 12

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By Sabina Mollot

For potential candidates for the State Senate seat now occupied by Tom Duane, it may be hard to believe that it was only just over a month ago when the longtime lawmaker announced his intentions not to seek reelection. After all, for them, there’s been something of a mad dash to collect enough petition signatures to ensure their names on the ballot for the September primary. The deadline is this Thursday.

As of Monday, no candidates had yet submitted their petitions to the Board of Elections. However, there are now at least three Democratic candidates who’ve said they definitely plan to run in the September primary:

The first is Brad Hoylman, a nonprofit attorney and friend of Duane who received his support the day Duane made his announcement. The others are Hell’s Kitchen bar owner Thomas Greco and Upper West Sider Tanika Inlaw, a public school teacher.

Town & Village previously interviewed Hoylman and Greco, and this week, Inlaw spoke with this newspaper about her campaign and her agenda, which focuses on affordable housing, education and job creation.

Already, Inlaw said she’s been pounding the pavement throughout the district and recently learned firsthand from residents of Stuyvesant Town about their top issues of concern, from classroom overcrowding to the stuffing of students into divided apartments.

In response, she said she thought CWCapital should be made to stop the practice of putting up pressurized walls and renting to students.

Tenants, she learned, “are upset that a lot of families are being displaced and that now all these students are coming in and making noise. We can’t have dormitories. We need to stop that.”

Inlaw also said she considers herself an advocate for LGBT rights as a result of being raised by her uncle, who’s gay, and her grandmother. She called Duane an “amazing” senator. “He’ll be a tough act to follow.”

Though her background is in journalism (she worked for several years for ABC News Radio and for the network’s TV show, “The View”), Inlaw said she “got the bug” for politics from her husband, Evan Inlaw. He had run for a City Court judge position in Yonkers in 2005, and won at the primary level, but lost the general election. Meanwhile, Inlaw was active in the campaign, talking to district residents about their problems and finding that she wanted to do more than she could do at the time. This was just to steer those individuals to the right city agency or public official.

Inlaw around that time also got involved in advocacy work, becoming president of her local chapter of the NAACP. She held that position until a few years ago, and said when she heard about the Senate seat for what will soon become the 27th District, she just decided to go for it.

“I’m a teacher at a Bronx elementary school, and I feel I’m the best candidate because I have no special interests behind me,” said Inlaw.

Though Inlaw knew Hoylman was all but officially endorsed by Duane on that first day, she said she wasn’t going to be deterred by any political “machine.”

“I’ve seen that before with just one candidate, but how can you call that democracy?” she said.

She added that as a senator, she would be an advocate for the middle class, which she feels is now shut out of the political process.

“Barack Obama is a black president, so color is not the shut-out anymore; it’s class,” she said.

“Middle income people don’t have opportunities anymore. It used to be that as long as you had a good education, you could buy a house. Now you could have a good education and have to live with your parents. And I don’t want my daughter living with me when she’s 40.”

Inlaw, who’s 38, began her career in education not long after having children. She now has a five-year-old and a seven-year-old. The idea originally was to be a stay-at-home mom, but that didn’t last too long.  “I needed a break,” she admitted, “and you don’t get any break as a stay-at-home mom.” She also noted she she’s “about to be a single mom,” since she’s in the midst of a divorce from Evan.

On matters related to education, Inlaw said if elected, she would fight to create smaller classrooms and have additional support via assistant teachers for special education classes. She also said she wanted to “bring back extra curricular and arts programs,” which are the first things cut from any school budget. “Every child should have the opportunity for a well-rounded education,” she said.

Bullying is also a focus, with Inlaw saying one way to help stop it would be to demand accountability of the schools where it happens. However, she stressed it should be done in a way that doesn’t shame the schools or administrators, since that approach too often leads to incidents of violence or other problems being swept under the rug. She also thinks it’s important to create a classroom environment that’s rigorous. “That’s what we need — to make kids more competitive.”

And Inlaw says she’s the voice of experience on that topic, being the first person in her family to graduate from college. She got her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Purchase and later her master’s in education from Hunter. She also attended a specialized high school, La Guardia, studying drama.

She also wants to see hydrofracking completely banned and focus on repairs needed to the city’s infrastructure, including bridges and tunnels. The work would create jobs and not the minimum wage sort. (She also supports raising the minimum wage.)

On issues of housing, Inlaw, who grew up in a Mitchell-Lama building, said fighting for affordable housing is a top priority.

Repealing the Urstadt Law is also a goal. Obviously, Inlaw said she knows what she’s up against in Albany with the Republican majority frequently blocking any tenant legislation. However, she said if elected, she would try to plow through the bipartisan divide by being willing to give and take at the negotiating table.

“(Right now) everything is landlocked because everyone is holding fast to their own opinions and not seeing how it is through someone else’s eyes,” she said. “We have to come together. Even if someone’s attacking me, I’ll agree with them, and that disarms them. They’ll hear me, because I hear them. People want to be heard.”