New York City will choose its next mayor on Tuesday. Check here throughout the day for developments in the 2021 election.
New York City residents will cast ballots Tuesday to select their next mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough presidents and City Council members—ushering in a new era of city leadership as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s two terms come to an end in January.
The two leading candidates vying to replace him were also out at the polls Tuesday morning. Republican and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa voted on the Upper West Side, wearing his trademark red beret and carrying along one of his many rescue cats (sadly, Gizmo was not allowed into the poll site, according to City and State’s Jeff Coltin.)
READ MORE: If New York City Is So Bad, Why Does Curtis Sliwa Stay?
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams—the Democratic mayoral nominee who is very likely to win the top seat at City Hall, becoming the city’s second Black mayor—also voted at P.S. 81 in Brooklyn. “This is for my mom and all the mothers that prayed for their children,” the candidate wrote on Twitter.
READ MORE: ‘He’s a Bit of an Enigma’: What Eric Adams’ Development Record & Housing Plan Tell Us
Nearly 170,000 city residents already cast their ballots during early voting, which ran from Oct. 23 to 31st, according to the NYC Board of Elections. That’s minuscule compared to turnout during the 2020 general election, where the presidential candidates on the ballot drew more than 1.1 million early voters.
The outcome in many of Tuesday’s races, including the mayoral, are likely to contain few surprises, with many of the Democratic candidates who won the June primary expected to easily win (there are more than 3.7 million Democrats registered in New York City, compared to 566,493 registered Republicans).
Alexa Avilés, the Democratic candidate running for City Council District 38—which spans Sunset Park, Red Hook, Greenwood Heights, and parts of Borough Park, Dyker Heights and Windsor Terrace—was out early Tuesday morning, greeting voters and handing out fliers at the corner of 36th Street and 5th Avenue.
“I feel great. I’m feeling optimistic. I feel like we’ve had an incredible campaign. We have been out every day after the primary,” said Avilés, a democratic socialist who beat out five other candidates during the June primary. She’s now competing against Erik S. Frankel, a local business owner who is running on the Conservative and Libertarian party lines.
Blue vs. Red on Staten Island
Signs for Vito Fossella and David Carr line the lawns of the mansions along Todt Hill Road in Staten Island, leading down a hill to the borough’s GOP headquarters. Inside, local party operatives prepare signs, discuss interviews and work to get out the vote for Carr in a close race with Sal Albanese, a Democrat who has the endorsement of the PBA.
Albanese is battling Republican Carr to represent the 50th District, which spans a wide swath across the middle of Staten Island and is one of just three City Council seats currently held by Republicans.
The Council district is home to 39,072 active registered Democrats and 36,185 active registered Republicans, according to the BOE. Carr is current Councilmember Steven Matteo’s chief of staff.
“Albanese might have the support of the law enforcement union, but I think more law enforcement officers would rather lick the floor of the Ferry Terminal than vote for him,” said Republican Councilmember Joe Borelli. “He’s had more positions than the Kama Sutra.”
Voting for NY’s Environment?
The focus at the polls Tuesday may have been on selecting New York City’s next mayor, but a ballot proposal could have even longer-lasting implications.
On the ballot—one of five included in this election—New Yorkers were asked to consider amending Article 1 of the state constitution’s bill of rights to include the right to clean water, clean air and a healthful environment.
The proposal stipulates that if passed, lawmakers would have to consider the environment in making legislative decisions, and New Yorkers would be able to sue if they believe their rights to a healthy environment are being violated, according to the city’s Board of Elections.
Other states, including Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, have already adopted such amendments, but globally, the United States is lagging. More than 100 member states of the United Nations, which is currently holding its Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, legally recognize the right to a clean and healthy environment in their constitutions. In October the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to recognize it as a fundamental right.
Monica Gaffney, originally from Ireland, said the proposal is what motivated her to vote on Tuesday—she’s concerned about the future of the planet for her two children. “I just feel like for this generation, we’re leaving the earth, its infrastructure and political systems in a terrible state,” she said.
IIlaiah Archie, 19, who voted at P.S. 94 in The Bronx, said the environmental question also caught her eye. She voted Democratic, she said.
“Clean air, clean water, the environment—that should be a given,” she said.
Photos: Voting in The Bronx
Photos by Adi Talwar.
The Race to Watch in Queens
The race to represent a piece of South Queens and the Rockaway Peninsula has emerged as one of the most closely watched contests in the city as the GOP clings to one of its few remaining strongholds. The race for Council District 32 pits Joann Ariola, the head of the Queens Republican Party, against Felicia Singh, a progressive school teacher.
Outside the polling site at P.S. 640, Ozone Park resident Darien Picart said he voted for Singh because he wants to “see new faces” representing the community. If elected, Singh would be among the first South Asian New Yorkers to win a seat in the Council.
“I’m South Asian as well and having a woman of color is important,” Picart said.
At the same poll site Tuesday evening, representatives from Democrat Singh’s campaign were raising concerns about a Board of Elections translator who has campaigned for Ariola, raising concerns among the rival campaign workers about his potential influence on Bangladeshi voters.
Singh’s campaign brought their concerns about the worker, Shamsul Haque, to poll site coordinators who said they were unaware of his campaign ties. A BOE spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Outside the site, Haque dismissed criticism from Singh’s campaign, calling his role bipartisan and saying he did not attempt to sway voters inside the polling place. He said he simply translated text for Bengali speakers, including informational signs posted outside the building, and served as an inspector.
“I’m a Republican so I can campaign for anyone I want but when I walk into this place I’m a BOE employee,” he said.
The school is located in a heavily Democratic portion of Council District 32, Queens’ last Republican Council seat. “This area is 90 percent Democrat,” said Sam Abdin, an Ariola campaign staffer canvassing outside the entrance who said he voted at the school earlier. “But this isn’t national politics, it’s community politics and [Ariola] does a lot for the community.”
A sign-in sheet maintained by the poll site coordinator showed that Ariola stopped by at 3:35 pm. She dropped off a box of chocolates for poll workers.
The school is located in one of Queens’ most diverse zip codes, with some immigrant New Yorkers heading to the polls for the first time Tuesday.
Ozone Park retiree Gang Zhu, who stood under an umbrella with his dog Gigi, said he became a U.S. citizen in January after 30 years in the country. He said he was excited to cast his ballot for the first time and entered the building after his wife, a Manhattan school teacher, came outside.
“I don’t care who you vote for but you have to show up,” he said. “It’s important for the immigrants.”