Audio: Why the Brownsville Council Race Matters to More Than Brownsville

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Climbing in Brownsville.

There are 51 City Council districts, but unless a person has a secret family or something, each New Yorker only lives in one. Fully one third of Council seats will have no primary come September 12. This prompts the question: Do these individual races we’re following matter to city residents who, because they live in other districts, can’t vote in them?

The district 41 Council contest is a good example of a race with broader implications. A lot of the challenges facing the city—health disparities, poverty, homelessness, public housing’s crisis—are epicentered in Brownsville. A strong Councilmember coming out of that neighborhood would have a lot of standing in citywide conversations about those issues.

The fact that the race features a very crowded field in an area that, in 2013 at least, saw even lower turnout than the city as a whole (21 percent or so locally in the general election versus 25 percent citywide) also has broader implications. On the one hand, it suggests a healthy amount of political interest–as I noted in the WNYC interview below, the field this year includes some impressive people with interesting ideas. So, maybe democracy in New York City is healthier than we think. On the other hand, if turnout this year is as low as four years ago or lower, the winning candidate could scrape by with a very small number of votes. Meaning maybe democracy still needs some work.

The clip below is rather brief. For more detail on the candidates, check out Kizzy Cox’s story from earlier this week.

City Limits, Gotham Gazette and WNYC teamed up to create a voters’ guide to this and other races. Check it out:


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