The prelude to the main event in 2021 is a quintet of special elections to replace councilmembers who have departed.

Jeff Reed, Wiliam Alatriste/NYC Council

Departed Councilmembers whose seats feature in special elections over the next four months, clockwise from top left: Andrew Cohen, Ritchie Torres, Donovan Richards, Andrew King and Rory Lancman.

One is now a judge, another a Congressman. One’s the borough president of Queens, another works for the Cuomo administration. One was expelled.

Those are the moves that have required New York City to schedule five special elections between the 2020 general election and the 2021 primary in June, when all municipal offices (mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president and City Council) could potentially be on the ballot.

The Dec. 22 election to fill the Bronx seat vacated when Andrew King was expelled from the City Council in October ushered in its own very special season of elections at weird times, when a very small number of voters will decide who gets the significant plum of a seat on the New York City Council, which comes with a $148,500-a-year salary, substantial land-use and legislative power, control of millions in discretionary funds and a very snazzy lapel pin.

In addition to King’s former district, which covers the northeast Bronx, the Council has another vacancy in District 24 in eastern Queens, where Rory Lancman resigned to take a job in the Cuomo administration. Mayor Bill de Blasio has called a special election there for Feb. 2, 2021.

Donovan Richards of District 31 (southeast Queens) won the race–itself a special election—to be Queens borough president. His Council vacancy will be filled on Feb. 23. On March 23, there will be elections to replace Ritchie Torres in District 15 (central Bronx), who was elected to Congress, and in Bronx District 11, where incumbent Andrew Cohen left to become a judge.

Here’s what we know so far about the cast and chronology for the upcoming season of special elections. Note that special elections are nonpartisan affairs, where no one can call themselves a Democrat or Republican, so candidates adopt self-created party names.

(Note also that the winners of these special elections, who are sworn in as soon as the results are certified, are only elected to serve out the remainder of the current term. The primary in June and general election in November will determine who serves during the next full term, beginning January 1, 2022. It is likely that will be a two-year term because of redistricting after the 2020 Census. Either way, people elected in this year’s special elections who also win in November would be able to serve through 2029 before term limits forced them out of office.)

District 11

Covers: The Bronx neighborhoods of Bedford Park, Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Norwood, Van Cortlandt Village, Wakefield and Woodlawn. [Map]

Incumbent: Andrew Cohen, who was elected on Nov. 3 to a judgeship.

Timing: March 23, 2021

Likely candidates:
Mino Lora 
Jessica Haller 
Eric Dinowitz 
Dan Padernacht 
Carlton Berkley

District 12
Covers: The Bronx neighborhoods of Eastchester, Baychester, Co-op City and Williamsbridge. [Map]

Incumbent: Vacant. Andrew King was expelled from the Council in October.

Timing: Dec. 22, 2020


Kevin Riley (Justice & Unity) 68%
Pamela Hamilton-Johnson (Social Change) 24%
Neville Mitchell (Bronx 12 Matters) 3.2%

Read more here.

District 15

Covers: The Bronx neighborhoods of Bedford Park, Fordham, Mount Hope, Bathgate, Belmont, East Tremont, West Farms, Van Nest, Allerton and Olinville. [Map]

Incumbent: Ritchie Torres, who was elected to Congress on Nov. 3.

Timing: March 23, 2021

Likely candidates:
Ischia Bravo
Elisa Crespo
Oswald Feliz
Latchmi Gopal 
John Sanchez 
Altagracia Soldevilla 

District 24 

Covers: The Queens neighborhoods of Kew Gardens Hills, Briarwood, Utopia and Pomonok. [Map]

Incumbent: Vacant. Rory Lancman resigned in early November to join the Cuomo administration.

Timing: Feb. 2, 2021

Candidates on the ballot:

Moumita Ahmed (Mo For The People)
Michael Earl Brown (United Citizens)
James Gennaro (Queens Strong)
Neeta Jain (Community First)
Dilip Nath (Your Voice Matters)
Mujib U. Rahman (Unity)
Deepti Sharma (A Better Queens)
Soma Syed (Soma for Queens)

Check out the official Campaign Finance Board voters’ guide for this race.

District 31

Covers: The Queens neighborhoods of Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens [Map]

Incumbent: Donovan Richards, who was elected Queens borough president on Nov. 3.

Timing: Feb. 23, 2021

Candidates on the ballot:

Selvena Brooks-Powers (Powers 4 Queens)
Manuel Silva (People Powered)
Pesach Osina (Community Unity)
Nancy Martinez (Rockaway United)
Shawn Rux (Rux For Us)
Latanya Collins (Collins 4 Queens)
Rev. Sherwyn James (Time for Change)
Latoya Benjamin (The Time Is Now)
Nicole Lee (Lee For Jobs 31)

If you have additional information about any of these candidates, please contact City Limits.

One thought on “Your 2020-2021 Special Elections Tracker

  1. Districy 49 replacing term-limited out Debi Rose
    Dem Candidates are crowded:

    Democratic Philippe-Edner Apostol-Marius
    Democratic Amoy Barnes
    Democratic Selina Grey
    Democratic Kamillah Hanks
    Democratic John McBeth
    Democratic Troy McGhie
    Democratic Morounranti Ogunleye
    Democratic Kelvin Richards
    Democratic Michael Schnall
    Republican Nicholas Robbins

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