Election 2013: Brooklyn primaries provide surprises


It was a wild night of surprises and letdowns on Tuesday, September 10 with the New York City primary election drawing to a close.

In Brooklyn’s City Council primaries, incumbents Stephen Levin (City Council District 33), Darlene Mealy (City Council District 41), Jumaane Williams (City Council District 45) and David Greenfield (City Council District 44) cruised to easy victories, according to unofficial vote totals provided by the city’s Board of Elections.

But, the big stories emerging from the evening were the defeat of former Assemblymember Vito Lopez, who left office in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, but who then decided to run for City Council in the 34th Council District, and incumbent Councilmember Sara Gonzalez, in the 38th District, who has represented Sunset Park and Red Hook for the past decade and who would have been the most senior member of the Council had she been successful in the primary.

In the 34th Council District, Antonio Reynoso secured the seat with just a little more than 1,000 votes over Lopez in a four-way race to replace Diana Reyna who is term-limited. Reynoso got over 49 percent of the vote, with a total of 5,669 compared to Lopez’s 4,309.

Poised to represent Williamsburg, Bushwick and Ridgewood, Reynoso said, “I am thrilled by tonight’s results. I was born and raised in this community. And in recent years I have had the privilege of working on issues like affordable housing, education and job creation that will define our future. In the City Council, I plan to build on my record, and deliver the honest, ethical and progressive leadership that our community deserves.”

In the 37th Council District, Assemblymember Rafael Espinal won the Council seat being vacated by term-limited Erik Martin Dilan in a four-way race. Espinal got 3,377 votes (46.03 percent), with the second place finisher, Kimberly Council, receiving 2,308 votes (31.46 percent). Espinal is poised to represent East New York, Bushwick, Cypress Hills, City Line, Ocean Hill-Brownsville and Wyckoff Heights.

In the 38th Council District, insurgent Carlos Menchaca declared victory over Gonzalez, who got 2,946 votes (42.43 percent) with Menchaca snagging 3,997 votes (57.57 percent).

“We won by canvassing and talking to voters,” Menchaca said as his supporters erupted in cheers of “Si se puede!” or “Yes we can!”

“I am surrounded by unions, family and friends,” he said. “I am going to be visible and vocal. I will be someone on the streets who will be this voice…who will go to City Hall and demand that services be brought to Sunset Park. This district needed someone who will work to take care of the will of the people.”

It was a close call for Flatbush/East Flatbush Councilmember Mathieu Eugene, who beat back a spirited challenge from insurgent Saundra Thomas. Eugene got 48.31 percent or 5,913 votes in the four-way race.

“I feel great,” said Eugene. “I am delighted because the people in my district have given me another chance to do what I love doing, what I was doing for many years before I was elected, serving the people and making a difference in their lives. I am pleased to have the opportunity to do this and I will do everything possible to serve everybody, those that voted for me and those that didn’t.”

There were also several races where there were no incumbents.

The race for retiring Councilmember Letitia James’ seat was hot in the 35th District, representing Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Laurie Cumbo secured the Democratic nomination with 6,836 votes or 35.44 percent. On her coattails were Ede Fox, getting 25.98 percent or 5,011 votes and Olanike Alabi receiving 25.88 percent, or 4,992 votes.

“This has been a long and incredible journey, and this victory means that we are one step closer to affording me the opportunity to be a force for positive reform in the 35th District,” Cumbo said. “I care deeply about this community, and I will work toward preserving our diversity, investing in our economic development, strengthening our not-for-profits, providing for our service employees, and reforming education.”

In the 42nd Council District, Assemblymember Inez Barron successfully won the seat occupied for the past three terms by her husband, Charles Barron, who is term-limited. Barron got 43.37 percent of the vote (5,447 votes) in a seven-way race. The district represents parts of East New York, Brownsville, Canarsie and East Flatbush.

In the 36th Council District in parts of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights, Robert Cornegy, Jr. eked out a win in the five-way race to replace Al Vann. Cornegy got 4,138 votes (29.93 percent), just a shade ahead of the second place finisher, Kirsten John Foy, who got 4,044 votes (29.25 percent).

In the 46th Council District in Canarsie, Marine Park, Bergen Beach and Mill Basin, current Assemblymember Alan Maisel defeated Mercedes Narcisse, a local business-owner and activist, in the race to replace Councilmember Lew Fidler, who is term-limited. Fidler had energetically back Maisel, who got 7,597 votes (59.28 percent). Narcisse got 5,219 votes (40.72 percent).

Maisel will continue to represent Bergen Beach, Canarsie, Georgetowne, Starrett City, Flatlands, Futurama, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Mill Island, Gerritsen Beach, Madison and Sheepshead Bay.

In a five-way race in the 48th Council District in Sheepshead Bay through Midwood, Chaim Deutsch was leading with 3,081 votes (33.86 percent), with Ari Kagan a close second with 2,785 votes (30.61 percent). It was uncertain as this paper went to press whether Kagan would request a count of the paper ballots.

Finally, in a special election to fill the Assembly seat vacated by Lopez, the primary winner was Maritza Davila, who got 3,906 votes (52.14 percent) in a three way race. In second place was Jason Otano, who got 2,351 votes (31.38 percent). Davila is poised to represent Williamsburg, Bushwick and parts of Queens.

Results for the 47th Council District race can be found here: http://brooklynspectator.com/2013/09/a-teachable-moment-in-district-47-council-race/.

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