BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Democratic city councilmembers easily swept to victory against local challengers in the Nov. 7 general election.
Christopher Marte won reelection with around 70 percent of the vote in Lower Manhattan’s District 1 against Helen Qiu, who ran as a candidate on several lines for the Republican, Conservative, Common Sense, and Arts and Culture parties.
Qiu — who accused progressive Dems of “destroying the city” — put out fliers urging “all Chinese to unite to kick out…the radical Latino Marte,” plus tried to connect Latinos with crime, the Marte campaign charged.
In response, his campaign retorted, “While this racist rhetoric attempts to pit Chinese and Latino people against each other, Marte has repeatedly proven these communities are deeply intertwined. Both immigrant groups are impacted by the 24-hour workday as many women work as home attendants and face these inhumane conditions. Additionally, Chinatown and the Lower East Side are multiracial neighborhoods that share the same struggles as they face displacement through racist rezonings.”
Meanwhile, Erik Bottcher, seeking reelection in the West Side’s District 3, took 90 percent of the vote versus Robert Bobrick, a 78-year-old Penn South resident running as the Republican and Medical Freedom parties’ candidate. Bottcher’s election night party, featuring drag performer Jackie Cox, was about the most excitement the race saw.
In the East Side’s District 2, Carlina Rivera faced no election because Juan Pagan, seeking a ballot spot as the Medical Freedom Party candidate, was disqualified.
In another local contest, Keith Powers, who represents District 4, stretching from Stuyvesant Town to the Upper East Side, decisively defeated Republican / Parent Party challenger Brian Robinson, winning around 75 percent of the vote. Like the other Manhattan districts mentioned above, District 4 is heavily Democratic, making victory for a G.O.P. candidate a major lift.
A few days before Nov. 7, Robinson penned an op-ed that he pitched to The Village Sun, touting his candidacy as “our last chance to right this ship.”
Robinson, who is Jewish, tweeting after his loss, declared that he and his family will now be leaving New York, which he feels is sliding downhill due to crime and the homeless crisis, and which, after the 10/7 attack and Israel’s retaliation, has also seen a frightening surge of anti-Semitism. He slammed the city’s Democratic Party as not just a political machine — but a “Nazi machine.”
As for turnout, it was down in some races, yet up in others. Compared to the 2021 Democratic primary election in District 3, for example, when Bottcher faced multiple opponents, this time about 8,500 fewer voters showed up at the polls for the general election. On the other hand, in contrast to this past June’s Democratic primary election in District 1, which saw incumbent Marte fend off three candidates, including Qiu, about 2,700 more voters actually turned out on Nov. 7 for their mano-a-mano rematch.
Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime New York political consultant, was nonplussed by the hype over the incumbents’ easy and expected wins.
“We keep having elections where no one shows up,” he scoffed.
Referring to the city’s generous campaign-finance matching funds program, he said, “The political industrial complex can hire workers at an 8-to-1 match. They can hire all their friends to work on the campaign.”
Personally, Sheinkopf would like to see nonpartisan primary elections, among other changes, which he feels would help open up the system to new blood. While Reform Democrats brought down Tammany Hall in the 1950s and ’60s, in the longtime politico’s point of view, the current political establishment has as much of a stranglehold on office as Tammany ever did.
“Everything is a fix,” he stated. “The reformers have finally come full circle 50 years later. It’s a new kind of fix. These general elections are nonsense, a waste of taxpayer dollars. … And the way judges are elected is a complete fix,” he added. “It’s a disgrace.
“The bosses have been in power for a long time,” Sheinkopf observed. “They’ve legitimized boss rule at the local level. You can’t have democracy and incumbent protection in the same system. You have a class of professional politicians that never break a sweat.”
One notable upset, though, was Councilmember Marjorie Velazquez, who lost a close race in the Bronx to Republican upstart Kristy Marmorato.
“What happened to her is called democracy,” Sheinkopf said bluntly of Velazquez’s surprising loss.
For their part, foes of the city’s Open Restaurants outdoor dining program did not cry any tears for Velazquez. The seemingly up-and-coming councilmember championed the contentious program, cozying up to the hospitality industry as her office drafted legislation to make the program permanent. Anti-outdoor dining activists recently filed a class-action lawsuit against permanent Open Restaurants.