NYC Council/William Alatriste

Councilmember Carlina Rivera will defend her lower Manhattan seat against just one challenger in the June primary.

Council Countdown is a partnership of City Limits, City & State, Gotham Gazette and the Queens Daily Eagle, offering coverage of the 2021 New York City Council races.

Manhattan Councilmember Carlina Rivera, one of just a handful of City Council members who is not term-limited this year, faces a single challenger in her District 2 re-election bid.

Erin Hussein, a former attorney from the East Village, is running against Rivera, the current chair of the Council’s hospitals committee who is reportedly seeking the role of speaker, in the June 22 primary.

In a year where many Council races have several candidates running, the Democratic primary for District 2—which includes the Lower East Side, Kips Bay, and Murray Hill—is one of the least competitive in the city. And because only two Democratic candidates are on the ballot for the June 22 primary election, voters in the district will not be electing their next Council member using the city’s new ranked choice voting system.

Rivera, who is from the Lower East Side, faced off with Hussein in a previous Council election. The two ran in the same district in 2017, with Rivera ultimately prevailing over five other candidates, including Hussein, who came in last with less than two percent of the vote.

More than an estimated 300,000 people live within the two community districts—Manhattan Community District 3 and Manhattan Community District 6—that make up Council District 2.

The two districts are somewhat different, collectively representing some of the most racially and ethnically diverse communities in lower Manhattan: Community District 3, which includes the Lower East Side and Chinatown, is mostly white, Asian, and Latino, according to city data. More than a third of the residents there are foreign-born.

Just north of East 14th Street, and encompassing Murray Hill, Gramercy Park and Tudor City, Manhattan Community District 6 is mostly white. More residents here are proficient in English than in any other community district in the city, and are some of the least likely to earn incomes below the city’s poverty threshold.

But there are important similarities between the adjacent districts: Affordable housing is the principal issue in both, according to their respective community boards. Homelessness is also a local concern, both boards said in recent needs statements.

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The incumbent Rivera has pulled in around $112,276 in contributions to her campaign so far, including donations from the political action committees attached to unions 1199SEIU and 32BJ, according to city campaign finance records.

In her first term, Rivera, a former community organizer on the Lower East Side, pushed to frame herself as an equity-focused progressive, particularly around issues related to health and housing. The chair of the hospitals committee, she introduced a bill in 2019 that would create a patient advocate office, intended to help New Yorkers navigate bureaucratic difficulties in the healthcare system.

Last year, she introduced legislation that would give affordable and supportive housing developers, community land trusts, and other groups the right of first refusal on select residential properties. These groups would subsequently be able to match competing offers.

But her critics, including Hussein, claim she has neglected resident concerns around local development and affordable housing.

“I have been a lawyer, a stay-at-home mom, and a fundraiser, and for the better part of two decades, I have dedicated myself to serving as the president of one of the largest coops in District 2,” Hussein’s campaign website says. “Together we have watched our district become unrecognizable and decisions be made that don’t reflect the will of the community. We have felt unheard and powerless, and this is why I am running for City Council.”

Hussein has raised just over a tenth of Rivera’s contributions, with about $14,877.

Hussein has also been critical of Rivera’s position on the city’s contentious East Side Coastal Resiliency plan, which will see East River Park demolished and later raised to better protect it from coastal flooding, according to city officials.

Rivera supports the plan, claiming raising the park will protect local homes and businesses from being battered by another storm like Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Though local groups—some of which had alternate plans for the area—have sued to save the existing park, construction began in April.

“East River Park must be saved, and there must be accountability and transparency about why the community plan was abruptly scrapped,” Hussein’s campaign website says.

A Columbia Law School graduate, Hussein is interested in reforming city land use policies and building more schools and hospitals. She is also opposed to a city proposal to rezone SoHo.

Councilmember Rivera could not be immediately reached for comment about her stance on the rezoning plan.

13 thoughts on “Carlina Rivera to Face Sole Challenger for Lower Manhattan Seat

  1. Carlina Rivera just voted for the massive rezoning of Governors Island so a shiny tower and parking spots can be built along the waterfront on what is now green space. And it’s in a flood zone on an island that does not currently allow cars.

    Don’t forget she helped guide the Tech Hub–more rezoning that brings little to no affordable housing to our neighborhood but is great for developers.

    She has ignored all alternative flood control plans for East River Park, even though the current city plan is an environmental disaster–and unnecessary to gain timely flood control. She just doesn’t listen, no matter how many constituents beg her to look at facts.

    She brags that her support of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project to build a giant levee after burying our park includes “mitigation”–alternate park spaces for us to use during the years of construction. Her negotiations yielded pathetic alternates. How about free ferries to Governors Island for kids to play ball–and for all of us to have a safe traffic-free place to play? Nope. We get some ratty artificial turf on concrete slabs.

  2. Carlina Rivera has not helped NYCHA residents in LES . Gets involved by taking away FDR drive only place to get exercise and families enjoy time children that’s all we have recreational activities excercise where is our youth going teams all year round needs fields our lady sorrows baseball league and other teams end up at. Keep children from street positive vibes mental health problems release every day stress we need help humanity not take away only place for go running and families picnics get together enjoy. Carlina Rivera office is not addressing issues regarding Latinos being discriminated against in NYCHA and affiliated to Goles a nonprofit who has people evicted from their homes instead referral to court house right to counsel program. It’s sad how Carlina Rivera failed Latinos I don’t do race card anyone else can do a better job 🙏💒✝️🇵🇷. Even Goles has been told on record by housing court judge to not appear in court one time on behalf of the tenants and don’t appear ? Get involved in Guardian Ad Litem cases Director Damaris Reyes causes harmful effects in cases against tenants should be removed making people homeless and giving referral to a private attorney Howard Chung,Esq instead of NYC Bar Association for tenants they shouldn’t be evicted . I had to put them back in possession with the godly help from The Legal Aid Society Civil Housing. What has Carlina Rivera done for the people living in the lower east side.?

  3. I would like to share that I am running as an independent for City Council District 2. Yesterday a NYC Board of Elections representative confirmed that no general objections were filed against my Independent Nominating petition of 1200+ signatures. The representative affirmed that I will be listed on the Nov. 2nd General Election City Council District 2 ballot under my newly created party, The Neighborhood Party.

    I am also aware that Juan Pagan is planning to submit an Independent Nominating Petition to get on Nov. 2nd General Election ballot for City Council District 2. So I encourage you check with the NYC Board of Elections to confirm the Independent Nominating petitions for the City Council District 2 General Election race.

    The Council District 2 the General Election will be a race to watch, too.


    Allie Ryan

    Allie Ryan
    Neighborhood Party Candidate for City Council District 2

  4. I too am hugely dissatisfied by Rivera. I’ve seen her speak a number of times and was surprised at just how dense she was. After Margarita López and Rosie Méndez, she’s weak gruel at best.

    • I have had the good fortune to work in the offices of both Council Members Lopez and Mendez. I have always maintained a close working relationship with all my Council Members including Carlina Rivera.
      I have had ample opportunity to hear all of them speak in multiple venues from large halls to Stated Council meetings and hearings at City Hall; from smaller community gatherings to Full Board meetings at Community Boards 3, 6 & 5; from chance encounters with constituents at events or on the street to the one-on-one conversations I have enjoyed with each of them.
      I know that each of them are imminently approachable and prefer to speak in the vernacular common to their District.
      With regard to CM Rivera specifically, I cannot recall a single instance where, regardless of the subject broached, she exhibited anything less than a thorough understanding nor provided anything other than a cogent response.

      • I have had different experiences with CM Rivera. In 2019 when I talked with about G&T education issues, she referred me to NYS Legislators, saying she could not do anything. A year later she co-sponsored legislation w/CM Brad Lander to remove screen admissions from schools. Last month I talked to her about the Governors Island Rezoning Plan that the City Council Land Use Committee & Zoning & Franchises Committee (she sits on both committees) were voting on and she said she did not know what I was talking about. I told her the meeting times.
        She did attend either meeting and thus did not vote on the Governors Island Rezoning Plan, but the next day on Instagram she posted a photo of herself canvassing for re-election in Union Square.

        Another friend told me that in 2020 he tried to ask CM Rivera intervene about Green Thumb refusing to turn on the water connection to the community gardens until they signed a new licensing agreement that required permits and permission for community gardens’ activities and events. CM Rivera told my friend that she didn’t know anything about the issue. The Green Thumb licensing agreements continues to be a big issue / limits community gardens to this day.

        • Clarification: CM Rivera did NOT attend the 11am City Council Land Use committee meeting nor the 10am Zoning & Franchises subcommittee meeting on May 11, 2021.

  5. Carlina Rivera promised to reject the ESCR, which will leave the District 2 community without a park for over five years, and chose to support it after she got elected to the Council. I have also been highly disappointed by the lack of transparency of her office regarding this issue (see post about the Value Engineering Report), and her lack of response to other community demands. Rivera has also refused to a second debate with Erin Hussein (see only debate at: For these and other reasons, I will be voting for Erin Hussein on June 22.

  6. Not a fan of Carlina Rivera. She is no Rosie Mendez or Margarita Lopez.
    Voted for her first term – but not again. Her office has consistently referred me to CB 6 – saying that is where she takes her cues about what her constituents want. I have never seen her appear at any of our TA or property meetings or land use meetings where every other elected official showed up.
    To me, she is power grasping and out of touch with the voters in her district.
    I have made my decision to vote for another candidate in the upcoming primary.

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