The votes are in…officially. Dr. Yusef Salaam, a member of the Exonerated Five, is the new council member-elect for Harlem’s District 9.
On Tuesday, election night for the June primary this year, the unofficial votes at the close of the polls already projected that Salaam would unseat Councilmember Kristin Jordan and beat out Assembly members Inez Dickens and Al Taylor.
Salaam needed over 50% to win, but as the night went on, the number capped at a tight 50.14%, according to the Board of Elections (BOE). After election night, the votes for him briefly dropped to 49.9%. That kicked off rounds of ranked-choice voting, which eliminates candidates until there’s one left.
After three rounds and 11,544 ballots counted to date (July 10), Salaam emerged victorious with 63.9% of the total votes.
Dickens was a solid runner-up with 36.1%; both Taylor and Jordan were eliminated in the last round.
“Many doubted us along the way, but this was a campaign based on change, and the voters overwhelmingly agreed with our vision for a better, stronger and more tolerant community. I would like to thank my family, friends, supporters, campaign staff, volunteers and everyone who believed in us. This is your victory,” said Salaam in a statement.
Salaam promised that as a council member he would always put Harlem first as “a son of Harlem.” He said that he would create affordable housing, lift up seniors, invest in better schools, and ensure the community is safe.
Meanwhile, the BOE has yet to call the race in East New York’s District 42 in Brooklyn. Though judging from the BOE election night results, candidate Chris Banks was the council member-elect with 50.54% of the total votes. Banks beat long-time Councilmember Charles Barron, who had 43.20% of the votes.
As of July 10, there were 6,177 votes counted. Banks’ lead has dropped down to 50.7%, Barron 42.6%, and candidate Jamilah Rose had 5.8%.
Barron, for one, appears pretty unbothered by the election results either way. He said that he was excited to put the extra time he will have into his nonprofit, Operation P.O.W.E.R. (People Organizing and Working for Empowerment and Respect), and truly hold the city council and city government accountable.
Amsterdam News reached out to Banks, but he did not respond with a comment by publication. A member of his team said they’re waiting for the BOE to officially call the race.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.