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City Council Races To Watch On Primary Day

by Diego Siler-Gonzales
A A

Scott Beale, Flickr

The New York mayoral primary may be at the forefront of the city's political attention, but a few City Council races are proving to be equally contentious and almost too close to call.

Considering that the mayoral race, as well as the race for New York’s comptroller, are taking up most of the headlines, one might forget that all 51 seats in the City Council are also being put to the vote. Here is a rundown of some of the in-party races to watch out for tomorrow.

In the 34th District, which covers parts of Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn, and Ridgewood in Queens, Antonio Reynoso seems to be the favorite for the Democratic nomination, seen as current Councilmember Diana Reyna’s protégé. This particular race is made all the more interesting and all the more prickly with Reynoso’s most significant opponent being former Assemblyman Vito Lopez – who resigned from his seat earlier this year due to allegations that he groped several female staffers. In spite of becoming embroiled in the sexual harassment scandal, Lopez continues to chug forward in the arena – his 30-year run in politics and his work in affordable housing and development giving him enough leverage in Williamsburg and Bushwick. However, it may be to no avail. Lopez’s scandalous history will make it difficult for him to match Reynoso’s favor to win the race.

Here in the Bronx in District 15, which is home to our own Fordham University, there’s a tight Democratic race that has been taking place between incumbent Joel Rivera and several challengers – the one with the most momentum being Ritchie Torres who’s raised markedly more money than the rest of the candidates at just over $60,000 and has received a very important endorsement from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz. While Rivera has been in the spotlight since he assumed office in 2001 as council member, Torres has little political experience aside from his time serving as Housing Director under Councilmember James Vacca. In this race, education and immigration reform will be particularly salient issues in addition to affordable housing, especially for senior citizens.

Farther south in Manhattan’s 3rd District, two candidates, Corey Johnson and Yetta Kurland, hope to represent the Lower West Side neighborhoods of Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea. The seat most recently belonged to Christine Quinn, who’s served the district for the past 14 years, and opened up the spot when she announced she’d be running for Mayor in 2013. In this race, we’ll be seeing some not-so-fresh faces. Kurland, who challenged Quinn in the Democratic Party in 2009, could certainly benefit from the experience and the degree of name recognition come voting time. But she’ll have to put up a fight against Johnson, who, like Kurland, has been a long-time community activist with a breadth of supporters. Both candidates are environmentally minded and share similar stances on issues like affordability and education. Both candidates are also openly gay, which puts LGBTQ issues at the forefront, and with a large gay population in both Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea, this is likely to be one the closest races throughout the city.

District 50 of Mid-Staten Island should have an exciting race as two candidates from each party are pitted against one another for the seat vacated by James Oddo, who is running for Borough President. On the Democratic side there’s Mendy Mirocznik and John Mancuso. Mirocznik has received the backing of mayoral candidate and likely Democratic frontrunner Bill de Blasio, as well as the Working Families Party. Mancuso, a captain of the Auxiliary Police as well as the Highway Patrol, has received endorsements from both the Citizens Union and the Stonewall Democrats. On the Republican side, candidates, Lisa Giovinazzo and Steven Matteo, hope their much wealthier campaigns will take them to City Council over the Democratic Party. Neither of the Democratic candidates has managed to raise more than $115,00, while both Republicans have surpassed $150,000 each, with Matteo in the lead at nearly $200,000. Giovinazzo has received endorsements from former Borough President Guy Molinari and Congressman Michael Grimm. But it appears that Matteo might be the one to beat, having raised about $30,000 more than Giovinazzo in campaign funds and having garnered the highest number of endorsements from current District Councilmember James Oddo, as well as from Assembly Members Nicole Malliotakis and Joe Borelli. For all the candidates, the main issue has been and will be post-Sandy reconstruction with island-wide transportation as runner-up.

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