By Shlomie Katash
Every single one of New York City’s 51 city council seats, alongside several other borough-specific positions, were up for election on Nov. 7 due to a once-in-a-decade redistricting process. While some districts witnessed their races being permeated with more drama than others, every race has now concluded, with few votes remaining to be counted.
Brooklyn’s District 47, which includes Bay Ridge and Coney Island, featured a hotly-contested race between two city council members who were drawn into the same area in last year’s redistricting. Democrat Justin Brannan ended up victorious over ex-Democrat, now-Republican Ari Kagan, who conceded an hour after polls ended, according to CBS News. Brannan’s victory came in spite of a seeming lack of support from the chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, who refused to campaign for Brannan and boosted harassment allegations against him that Brannan had denied – decisions criticized by district leaders across the borough.
Brannan’s old district, District 43, was redrawn into an Asian-majority district, encompassing parts of Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend. The new district had no incumbent after Brannan stepped aside, though Democrat Susan Zhang won the race handily.
In Manhattan’s District 9, Yuusef Salam, a member of the famously exonerated Central Park Five, officially won the right to represent Harlem in the city council, winning the general election without a challenger after a controversial primary election that featured Mayor Eric Adams endorsing one of Salam’s opponents.
No Republican incumbent lost their elections, including Brooklyn’s District 48’s Inna Vernikov, who was recently arraigned for carrying a gun near Brooklyn College’s campus during a pro-Palestine protest, and Vickie Paladino in Manhattan’s District 19, who easily defeated Democrat Tony Avella in a rematch of the close 2021 race for the district.
However, Democrats cannot say the same. GOP candidate Kristy Marmorato was able to defeat Democratic incumbent Marjorie Velázquez in the District 13 race, ending a 40-year drought of Republican victories in the Bronx. Despite the district carrying 62% Democratic enrollment, Republicans pounced on Velázquez for her vote to rezone a part of her district to allow for the construction of affordable housing in the area, according to Intelligencer.
The loss in the Bronx marks the third straight loss for Democrats in the area, per The New York Times, not including the district sending more votes in favor of the Republican candidate for mayor in 2021, Curtis Silwa. The streak will continue to cause worry among Democrats who fear that a right-wing shift is happening in the city, a fear that was born primarily after last year’s shocking losses for the party in the House of Representatives midterms.
Aside from NYC’s city council races, voters across New York were polled on two proposals that would amend the state constitution with regard to debt limits surrounding small city school districts and sewage facilities, both winning easily.
Following Election Day, the city’s Board of Elections announced that approximately 313,000 people voted, representing less than 7% of the 4.6 million eligible voters in NYC. Some argue that the anemic turnout is partly caused by the local elections always being held in odd-numbered years, where they do not synchronize with federal elections. While some advocate for the shift to holding elections on even-numbered years to help boost voter turnout, others believe that doing so would take away from the attention given to local issues, per City & State New York.