It’s primary season for the New York City Council again. Although many districts have incumbents who are running unopposed, two downtown Democrat races involving Carlina Rivera and Christopher Marte have drawn primary opponents. Early voting will run from June 17th to June 24th, with the official primary day landing on June 27th.
In District 1, incumbent Christopher Marte will be defending his seat against a slew of eager challengers. The winner will face Helen Qiu, the winner of the Republican primary, in the general election on November 7th, 2023.
Marte’s stated housing platform includes pushing back against luxury developers, conducting tenant services, and “holding landlords accountable”. Additionally, Marte hopes to expand funding towards public housing.
Marte is also running on an environmental plank, which includes the notable claim that he is responsive to “serious concerns about our district’s loss of trees due to resiliency plans that prioritize construction over trying to preserve plant and animal life.”
His quality of life plank is organized around his efforts to restore the Department of Sanitation to full budgetary force.
Ursila Jung, a prominent challenger, has seemingly similar planks for these issues. Her housing platform further includes a pledge to scope out unused and underused buildings that “can be converted into housing immediately.”
Jung also maintains planks on expanding voter access to the polls as part of bolstering the “political voice” of New Yorkers, as well as planks organized around investing in public education and a “world-class transportation system”--the latter investment serving as a central part of her public safety plank.
In a phone interview with Our Town Downtown, Jung stressed that she was had no prior experience as an establishment politician--and was instead running as a concerned mother and member of civil society. She decried the “antagonistic relationship with City Hall” that she believes City Council maintains, and she blamed what she deemed “activist ideology” for a lack of compromise that she intends to restore. She said that feeling a lack of adequate representation from the current Council led her to doubling down on her “political voice” plank, proclaiming that “the biggest concern for me, I guess, is low voter turnout.”
Jung hopes to rectify this by combatting what she views as “the slow decline of quality of life”. She said she hopes to reduce the stranglehold of big corporations such as Target that are shutting out mom-and-pop businesses, and highlighted her background as a means of further describing her public education plank: “I came to this country as an immigrant, [to go] to graduate school. I didn’t have an old-boys network. If I didn’t have a solid educational background behind me, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere!” She added that she was frustrated what she perceived as the public not being as concerned with student exams anymore.
Susan Lee’s campaign pledges appear to share elements of the environmental and affordable housing planks Marte and Jung propose; this includes expanding green space and addressing the homelessness crisis. She does not seem as eager as Marte to make public housing a key of her affordable housing plank, instead putting more weight on “partnering with developers”.
Lee also has a far more marked pro-police platform, dedicating an entire plank against closing Rikers Island and calling for added police recruitment as part of her public safety program--while nonetheless stating that “we must re-conceptualize policing and invest in it to ensure its success. Police reform must focus on redefining policing and if done correctly, it will restore confidence in its role in society.”
Pooi Stewart, Marte’s third challenger, does not appear to maintain a dedicated campaign structure listing her prioritized issues. A Facebook page notes that her campaign roughly revolves around “More Police, safer Streets, New Charter Schools, Affordable Rents.”
Marte has been in office since 2021, when he beat out nine challengers in a primary.
In the District 2 primary, incumbent Carlina Rivera is running on a genuine bevy of planks organized around securing various rights: abortion rights, LGBTQ+ rights, labor rights, animal rights, etc. Her public safety plank advocates for “late night youth programming” and violence interruption strategies as complementary measures to policing.
Rivera’s housing plank takes an all-of-the-above approach, incorporating both “fully funded” public housing and developer-first public housing. As part of an immigration and refugee justice plank, Rivera notes that she aims to “expand access to healthcare and city services for undocumented families, increase language programming and training, strengthen workplace protections, and ensure access to the ballot box in City elections.”
Allie Ryan is Rivera’s only challenger. Her approach can best be summarized by five boldface points laid out on her campaign website at allieryan2023.com: not rubber-stamping re-zonings, not destroying green spaces, not letting e-bikes run rampant or run over pedestrians, and ensuring abortion and reproductive rights. She also is making time for planks ranging from condemning racial inequality to ending “open restaurants” and their year-round dining sheds.
From June 17th-June 19th, early voting will take place from the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This will also be the case on June 24th and June 25th, the last two days of early voting. June 20th and June 23rd will have early voting hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and June 21st and June 22nd will have hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Primary Day, on June 27th, will have voting hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. According to the city government’s website, “ If you’re in line by 9 PM, you can cast a ballot.”
For information on where you can access the ballot box, go to findmypollsite.vote.nyc.