Time to elect some new political leaders
If you’re registered to vote and you have a mailbox, you’re probably aware that Election Day was this week just as this paper was going to press.
Voters went to the polls on Tuesday to elect candidates for their local City Council races, borough president, mayor, public advocate and comptroller, although the last two were hardly competitive.
In the public advocate race, incumbent Jumaane Williams is expected to win handily. He has three challengers, but none have been mounting much of a contest.
Williams is in the rare position of actually running for two offices at once. While he wants you to give him another term as public advocate, he has already announced that he is running for governor next year.
Usually when an incumbent running for reelection gets pressed about their interest in another office, they usually defer and say they are only focused on doing their current job. Then, shortly after they get voted back into said office, they announce they are running for another post.
Williams is not even bothering to hold up the pretense.
Councilman Brad Lander, who is term-limited out of office, has three challengers but is expected to win the race for comptroller easily.
In Queens, Tom Zmich has been running a competent campaign against current borough president Donovan Richards, who just took office last year after he won what was kind of a special election but not really (COVID threw a wrench in the whole process, it’s complicated) to replace Melinda Katz, so he is already being forced to defend his seat.
It will be hard for Zmich, a Republican, to not only overcome the advantages an incumbent enjoys, but the overwhelming majority Democrats hold in the borough.
But Brooklyn is assured a new borough president. Current office holder Eric Adams is running for mayor and leaving the post, and there are four candidates looking to replace him.
They are Councilman Antonio Reynoso, the Democrat, Menachem Raitport, who is running on the Conservative and Independent lines, and third-party candidates Shanduke Mcphatter (Voices for Change) and Anthony Jones (Rent is 2 Damn High). Wise money would be on Reynoso winning the race.
Speaking of Adams, he has been campaigning nonstop in the run up to this week’s General Election, as has his challenger, Republican Curtis Sliwa.
Sliwa’s campaign was nearly derailed after he was hit by a car last week. He was on his way to a radio interview on Friday when a yellow cab struck him outside Radio City Music Hall. Sliwa went on to do the radio interview, but afterwards learned that he suffered a fractured right arm.
He was treated and released, and was soon back on the campaign trail.
Sliwa held his own in two debates with Adams, and has been running a serious campaign, but he will also have a difficult time overcoming the major advantage the Democrats have among registered voters.
Perhaps a more progressive candidate would have been better for Sliwa, but Adams’ past as a member of the NYPD and his established political bona fides (whether you think that is a good thing or not), make him more attractive to some of the more moderate Democrats who could have been swayed to vote for Sliwa if a way-left-leaning candidate was on their line.
As long as we mentioned that Williams is running for governor next year, we should note that Attorney General Letitia James last week announced that she would also be challenging Governor Kathy Hochul next year.
It’s clear that one of the key strategies for James is connecting with New York City voters. Political pundits are already predicting that Queens, Brooklyn and the New York City suburbs are going to be key battlegrounds in next year’s gubernatorial race, so expect to see the candidates often over the next year.
In fact, after making her decision official last Friday, James was in Queens campaigning on both Monday and Tuesday, making appearances in Forest Hills and Ozone Park with City Council candidates Lynn Schulman and Felicia Singh.
Speaking of Singh, she is in one of the most hotly contested City Council races on the slate this year. Singh is a progressive and outspoken candidate running in a conservative-leaning district against Republican Joann Ariola.
The seat is the last one held by the GOP in Queens, which used to have several office holders at the local, state and, even if just for a short time, the federal level. Councilman Eric Ulrich is the last one.
If Singh wins, it might be a long time before the Queens County Republican Party ever elects another candidate to office.
We’ll have more on that race and all of the other important City Council races in Queens and Brooklyn next week.