BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Citizens Union, the venerable good-government group, has endorsed Susan Lee over Christopher Marte in the City Council District 1 Democratic primary election.
Citizens Union actually ranked Marte third in its preferences for District 1 candidates, with Lee first, followed by Ursila Jung and then Marte. Pooi Stewart, yet another candidate in the four-person race, did not respond to the questionnaire.
District 1 includes Chinatown, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, Soho, South Street Seaport, Battery Park City, Tribeca and the Financial District.
Citizens Union, which has been around for 125 years, said that after “a rigorous evaluation” of the candidates, it decided to go with Lee. She is the founder of the Alliance for Community Preservation and Betterment, an organization aimed at improving Chinatown’s quality of life.
“She has campaigned on a platform that aims to ‘re-conceptualize’ policing from a community perspective, improving transparency and accountability, and increasing funding for social service professionals,” the group’s directory states, in part. “Lee supports all of CU’s reform priorities in the candidate questionnaire and signaled she would focus on improving ethics oversight. If elected, she intends to seek a seat on the [City Council] Committee on Oversight and Investigations and make a log of her meetings publicly available. Citizens Union believes Lee would be a champion of the reform agenda on the Council and was impressed by her understanding of her community’s issues and plans to address them in office. We prefer her in this race.”
Marte ranked lower partly because Citizens Union was concerned about his “effectiveness” on the Council.
“As a councilmember, he has sponsored 16 bills, including legislation requiring simultaneous translation for Council meetings, although none of his bills have passed and he does not chair a committee,” the voters directory states. “Marte supports most of CU’s reform priorities in the candidate questionnaire, disagreeing over open primaries [to allow registered voters to vote in any party’s primary] but conceding that changes to party affiliation should be easier for voters. He differs from CU in his support of an elected Civilian Complaint Review Board. … Citizens Union values Marte’s commitment to political reform and accountability but is concerned about his ability to advance these goals given his legislative effectiveness in office over the past two years. Therefore, we ranked him third in this race.”
Marte, for his part, has notably been aggressively targeted by negative mailings from big real estate in previous elections due to his tough stance on overdevelopment and displacement. In fact, his supporters are more concerned about his position on these type of critical local issues than whether he has pushed through a raft of Council bills.
Citizens Union also weighed in on several other contested City Council primaries, including Brooklyn District 43 and Queens Districts 26 and 29.
However, in one closely watched race — Harlem’s District 9 — the group took a pass, expressing “no preference.” That primary pits veteran Assemblymember Inez Dickens against Yusef Salaam, who was among those convicted in the Central Park jogger assault and rape case in 1989, but whose sentence was later overturned.
“We have decided to issue an unusual No Preference decision in the Democratic primary for Council District 9,” the voters directory noted.
Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of Citizens Union, said, “In this year’s primary election, a number of City Council seats are up for grabs. Voters have the opportunity to pick a new representative for their recently redrawn districts or reelect incumbents serving shortened two-year terms. … Citizens Union is proud to support Lynn Schulman, Susan Zhuang, Susan Lee and Julie Won in their respective primaries for City Council. Each of these candidates are deeply committed to advancing a strong reform agenda at City Hall.”
Support for its reform agenda was the main criterion Citizens Union used in deciding whether or not to support a candidate.
To view Citizens Union’s Voters Directory, click here
City Council primary elections will be held Tues., June 27, with early voting from June 17 to June 25. To find early voting locations and hours, plus Election Day poll sites, you can visit findmypollsite.vote.nyc. If you type in your address and no result comes up, that means there are not any primary elections this cycle in your district.