Polling site at PS 375 Jackie Robinson School in Brooklyn on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Voting. (302654)
Credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Early voting has begun for New York City’s 2021 General Election. Voters throughout the city are heading to the polls to elect the city’s next mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough presidents, district attorneys and city council members. 

Thanks to term limits this year’s election is set to bring some new blood to city hall, with some politicians staying in place. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, crime, housing and economic recovery are a few of the key issues on the table. 

According to a PIX 11/Emerson poll released Monday, crime is the top issue for New York City voters followed by homelessness, jobs, COVID-19, health care, the environment and schools. 

“In Central Harlem, Southeast Queens, Black, Central Brooklyn, North Shore, Staten Island and South Bronx where you have concentrations of working class Black folks who have what I would argue are really kitchen table, kind of bread-and-butter issues,” said Anthony Thomas, executive director of the nonpartisan voter engagement organization Show up, Turn Out. “They want public safety, they want good housing, and they want economic health and/or job creation and they certainly want education right in their communities.”

Mayor

The race for mayor is down to the wire between Brooklyn Borough President and Democratic candidate Eric Adams and Guardian Angels founder Republican Curtis Sliwa; both participated in their second debate on Tuesday. The PIX 11/Emerson poll found Adams leading Sliwa 61% to 25% among likely voters. Fourteen percent say they are undecided.

Eric Adams Credit: Bill Moore photo

In their final days on the campaign trail, Adams and Sliwa are making media appearances and reaching out to voters to make their cases before next Tuesday’s Election Day.

“I want those 10 million dreams that are ready to wake up to know, just as my dreams are becoming a reality, I want yours to become a reality,” Adams said to voters during Tuesday’s mayoral debate. “This is the greatest city and the greatest country on the globe and I know what we can do. The way goes New York goes America and the way goes America goes the globe.”

Sliwa said in one interview that even though the polls point to a victory for Adams, he’s still moving forward, determined for a victory of his own.

“I’ve run across so many Democrats who say, ‘Curtis, why are you knocking yourself out? Isn’t Eric Adams already the mayor? Because he’s announced himself as mayor, everyone assumes he’s gonna be mayor,” Sliwa said.

Despite Adams and Sliwa being the two top contenders for mayor, seven other candidates are also running: Raja M. Flores of the Humanity United Party, Quanda S. Francis of the Empowerment Party, Fernando Mateo of the Save Our City Party, William Pepitone of the Conservative Party, Stacey H. Prussman of the Libertarian Party, Catherine Rojas of the Socialism and Liberation Party, and Skiboky S. Stora of the Out Lawbreaker Party.

Public Advocate

In the race for public advocate, Jumaane Williams is running for a full term after winning the seat vacated by State Attorney General Letitia James in a 2019 special election. Williams announced weeks ago he’s exploring a run for governor.

Jumaane Williams Credit: Bill Moore photo

“As your public advocate, I’m ready to continue holding our leadership accountable in this moment of transition for New York City,” Williams said in an email to supporters. “Our City needs housing justice, criminal justice reform, and equity in educational opportunity.”

Williams faces three other opponents including Libertarian Devin Balkind and Devi E. Nampiaparampil, who is running on the Republican and Save Our City Party lines. Williams is also facing Brooklyn community leader Anthony Herbert, who is running on the Conservative and Independent Party lines. He’s received numerous endorsements from law enforcement unions.

“The public advocate should be that person that’s the cheerleader bringing everybody together, being able to go into any community and sit down with any and everybody,” Herbert said during a debate earlier this month. “I would approach it from that standpoint.”

Comptroller

Brad Lander Credit: Contributed

Four candidates are running to replace Scott Stringer for comptroller. The frontrunner is City Councilmember and Democratic candidate Brad Lander. He received major endorsements from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Elizabeth Warren. This month, Lander said he wants to set up a money tracker to track the billions of dollars in federal aid the city received for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The money that has been spent has been a random wish-list as opposed to a strategic approach,” Lander said in an interview.

Other candidates in the race for comptroller include Conservative Paul A. Rodriguez and John Tabacco running on the Independent and Libertarian party lines. 

Borough President

Antonio Reynoso (Contributed)

Brooklyn—While Adams is running to be New York City’s next mayor, four candidates are running to replace him as Brooklyn Borough President. Democrat Antonio Reynoso beat out several candidates in the primary election. His campaign has focused on equity, COVID-19 recovery, affordable housing, and environmental and racial justice.

“The single most pressing issue facing Brooklyn is building back from the COVID pandemic,” Reynoso said. “Here in Brooklyn, we’ve always been defined by our diversity, the strength of our communities, and our resiliency in the face of hardship. But to put us on a stronger path forward, we need bold, unapologetically progressive leadership fighting for truly affordable housing, support for our small businesses, economic justice, and action to address long standing inequities, from our schools to our hospitals to our criminal justice system.”

Other candidates in the race for Brooklyn Borough president include Shanduke McPhatter of the Voice for Change Party, Menachem M. Raitport running on the Conservative and Republican Party lines, and Anthony L. Jones of the Rent is 2 Damn High Party. 

Vanessa L. Gibson (Contributed)

Bronx—City Councilmember and Democratic candidate Vanessa L. Gibson is on her way to making history as the first Black person and the first woman to serve as Bronx Borough President. Along with COVID-19 recovery and affordable housing, Gibson says employment is one of the top issues in her campaign.

“I’m excited,” she said during a televised interview last week. “I’m ready for the next assignment and at the end of the day I want people to give me a chance. For those who didn’t support me, watch me work and give me a chance to show you what I’m all about and take this borough to the next level.”

Gibson faces Republican Janelle M. King and Conservative Samuel Ravelo.

Donovan Richards (Contributed)

Queens—Democrat and current Queens Borough President Donovan Richards wants to stay in his position after only being in office for a little less than a year. He won the seat last November during a special election when former Queens Borough President Malinda Katz was elected district attorney for Queens County. Issues Richards is passionate about include affordable housing and fixing public transit. 

Richards faces Thomas J. Zmich, who is running on the Conservative, Republican and Save Our City Party lines.

District Attorney

Alvin Bragg (Contributed)

Manhattan—Democratic candidate Alvin Bragg is the front runner in the district attorney race in Manhattan to replace Cy Vance, who is not seeking reelection. Bragg, who is former New York State chief deputy attorney general and former federal prosecutor, beat out eight candidates in the primaries. If elected, Bragg will be the first African American to serve as Manhattan DA. He faces Republican Thomas Kenniff.

Bragg is representing Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, in the judicial inquiry into the death of her son in an effort to hold the NYPD accountable.

“I can’t think of a case that’s been more emotionally significant to me as a lawyer,” Bragg said in a published interview this week. “The fact that we sit here, seven years after Mr. Garner was killed and don’t know basic facts, that’s an embarrassment.”

City Council

Kristin Jordan (Contributed)

District 7 (Central Harlem)—Democratic candidate Kristen Jordan beat longtime politician Bill Perkins in the primaries. Issues she’s centering on in her campaign are police accountability, affordable housing and distribution of wealth. She faces Republican Alpheaus Marcus.

Althea Stevens (Contributed)

District 16 (Claremont, Concourse, Concourse Village, Highbridge, Morris Heights, Mount Eden, Morrisania)—With Vanessa Gibson on the path to victory for Bronx Borough President, Democrat Althea Steves hopes to fill the City Council seat Gibson is vacating. She’s been building her campaign on the issues of housing, youth development and justice reform. Stevens faces Republican candidate Kajara R. Boyd.

Crystal Hudson (Contributed)

District 35 (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant)—Term limits are forcing City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo to vacate her seat making way for Democratic candidate Crystal Hudson. She’s received major endorsements from the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU and DC37. Hudson faces Regina Kinsey of the Common Sense Part.

Chi A. Osse (Contributed)

District 36 (Bedford Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights)—Democratic candidate Chi A. Osse is running unopposed to replace Councilmember Robert Cornegy. Osse wants to defund the NYPD and improve housing, health care and education in the district. 

Rita C. Joseph (Contributed)

District 40 (Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens)—Democrat Rita C. Joseph and Republican, Conservative Constantin Jean-Pierre are on the ballot to replace Councilmember Mathieu Eugene. Joseph is a public school teacher who wants to improve education, increase affordable housing and achieve social and racial justice.

Kamillah M. Hanks (Contributed)

District 49 (North Shore, Staten Island)—Councilmember Debi Rose made history in 2010 when she was elected the first African American to higher office from Staten Island. Democrats want to keep her legacy going with Black female candidate Kamillah Hanks. She faces Jason Price, a Black man, of the Ordinary People Party, and Republican Patricia Rondinelli. 

Special Election

Cordell Cleare Credit: Bill Moore photo

NYS Senate (District 30, Manhattan)—With Brian Benjamin’s selection to serve as New York State lieutenant governor, three candidates are vying to fill the 30th District state senate seat in Harlem he vacated. Democrat Cordell Cleare, Independent candidate Shana Harmongoff and Republican Oz Sultan are all on the ballot. Cleare, who previously served as chief of staff for former State Sen. Bill Perkins, was named the Democratic nominee for the race by members of the Manhattan Democratic Party.

“This is a beloved and special district that contains my home community,” Cleare said in an interview with the AmNews. “We have to get on the road to economic recovery. In parts of the district there was already an imbalance and now it’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. Someone has to go in there and fight but we can only do this together.” 

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