Democratic City Council Member Carlina Rivera, who won her third campaign for Council District 2, did not hold an election party to celebrate the occasion. This may have been because she ran unopposed in the general election; her would-be opponent, perennial candidate Juan Pagan, was barred from appearing in the Republican primary ballot and then in a general election ballot as a candidate for the Medical Freedom Party.
Rivera, who grew up on the lower East Side and was a staffer for Rosie Menendez before succeeding her on the council in the 2017 election, represents a district that includes the Lower East Side, the East Village, Alphabet City but also stretches north to include Gamercy Park, Kips Bay, Murray Hill and Rose Hill.
The outcome of the election was effectively decided in the June Democratic primary, where Rivera defeated activist and documentary filmmaker Allie Ryan with 60 percent of the vote to Ryan’s 39 percent. Ryan criticized Rivera for supporting and allegedly neglecting community input about a plan that would replace East River Park—and 1,000 of its trees—with a new, elevated park in order to protect the city against floodwaters. Although the margin of Rivera’s victory was more than comfortable, Ryan produced an unexpectedly robust performance against an incumbent council member armed to the teeth with union, politician, advocacy group, and Democratic club endorsements.
As Rivera battled with Ryan (though Rivera, like most other city council incumbents, declined to participate in debates), Pagan ran unopposed in a Republican primary where he would have emerged as a heavy underdog in an overwhelmingly Democratic council district. But before the primary votes were cast, Pagan was first disqualified from the Republican primary and then barred from running in the general election by the Board of Elections at the Nominating Petitions Hearings in June. According to NYC Board of Elections, he had filed a defective Certificate of Acceptance of his nomination by the Medical Freedom Party, a single-issue organization that opposes vaccine mandates.
After Rivera won the primary, she continued to appear at events in her district, but there was no real battle to fight. In her re-election on Nov. 7 she pulled 92.8 percent of all votes cast, one of three Dem candidates who ran with no Republican opponent in the general election. (The other two were in northern Manhattan--Shaun Abreu in the Washington Heights/Morningside Heights district and Yusef Salaam in Harlem and East Harlem.)
The election gives Rivera two more years on the City Council, after serving one four-year term from 2018 to 2021 and then a two-year term shortened by redistricting from 2022 to 2023. Term limits prevent her from running again in 2025. Rivera previously told Our Town DT before election day that she wanted to spend her last two years in office focusing on legislation to ensure affordable and livable housing, promote economic mobility, strengthen programs that allow people to age in place with dignity, and expand city services that address everyday issues like sanitation.
“I can’t thank my neighbors enough for the honor of serving the communities that raised me and for sending me back to work for a final term,” Rivera said on X (formerly known as Twitter) following her victory. “There is more to do as we strengthen New York’s place as the greatest city in the world. Every day, I’ll be hustlin’ alongside you.”
Though Rivera remains mum for now on her post-council future, she has previously shown some aspiration for higher office—in the 2022 U.S. House primary for the newly-drawn 10th district, Rivera ran and finished fourth in a crowded, chaotic primary.
“There is more to do as we strengthen New York’s place as the greatest city in the world. Every day, I’ll be hustlin’ alongside you.” Carlina Rivera