Mayor’s Big Win Soft on UES; Speakership Up for Grabs

Despite his big victory on Nov. 6, especially in Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio struggled in portions of the Upper East Side. | Photo by Donna Aceto

BY PAUL SCHINDLER | On an election night in which most incumbents were returned to office, Mayor Bill de Blasio swept to reelection, and a proposed state constitutional convention was soundly rejected by voters statewide, the mayor outperformed in Manhattan relative to his citywide numbers but his results on the Upper East Side showed notable softness.

And while the ballot question asking New Yorkers whether they wished to convene a constitutional convention — something put to voters every 20 years — was rejected by a nearly four to one ratio both city- and statewide, it did marginally better throughout the borough.

In defeating Nicole Malliotakis, a four-term state assemblymember from Staten Island who ran on the Republican and Conservative Party lines, de Blasio captured more than 66 percent of the vote citywide. Malliotakis scored under 28 percent. Interestingly, Bo Dietl, an inflammatory law and order candidate who participated on the public debate stage with the two leading contenders, finished with less than one percent of the vote.

Across Manhattan, the mayor won nearly 72 percent of the vote, with the Republican getting just 20 percent. In Assembly District 69, which runs north from West 79th Street into Harlem, de Blasio scored nearly four out of every five votes, while Malliotakis was held to just 13 percent.

In contrast, in two Upper East Side Assembly Districts, the mayor performed markedly weaker. In District 76, which roughly runs from Third Avenue to the East River, he captured about 54 percent of the vote, compared to 37 percent for Malliotakis. And in Assembly District 73, that runs west from Third Avenue to Central Park, the mayor did not even win a majority, garnering 48 percent of the total versus almost 44 percent for the Republican.

On the constitutional convention question — promoted by several good government groups, including Citizens Union, but opposed by interest groups on both the left and the right worried about what could result from a people’s convention — statewide it went down 78 to 16 percent (among all voters casting ballots), and in the city, the no votes similarly romped yes votes 79 to 21 percent. In Manhattan, however, more than 27 percent of voters supported the ballot question — and in the two Upper East Side Assembly districts, about three in 10 voters favored calling a convention.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., running unopposed, faced a surprisingly strong, last minute write-in challenge from Marc Fliedner, an ex-prosecutor motivated to jump in when revelations surfaced about the incumbent’s actions in not pursuing fraud charges against Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr., in their marketing of the Trump Soho and sexual assault charges against Harvey Weinstein brought by an Italian model who captured a partial admission from the former Hollywood mogul on tape. The write-in tally in the DA’s race was nearly 10 percent of the total, highly unusual in any elective contest.

In five City Council races in Midtown and on the Upper East and West Sides, four Democratic incumbents won reelection overwhelmingly, while in the one race for an open seat — East Side District 4, where Dan Garodnick faced term limits — Democrat Keith Powers secured a comfortable victory, gaining 57 percent versus 31 percent for the GOP’s Rebecca Harary and 12 percent for the Liberal Party’s Rachel Honig.

Powers, a third-generation resident of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village who has worked for State Senator Liz Krueger and, prior to that, served as chief of staff to former Assemblymember Jonathan Bing, won the September 12 Democratic primary, snagging 41 percent of the vote in a crowded field. Honig finished third in that primary with less than nine percent, but stayed on the November ballot on the Liberal line.

Democrat Keith Powers is the new councilmember representing the East Side’s District 4, replacing term-limited Dan Garodnick. | Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

Harary, the mother of six who founded a school for children with autism as well as the Propel Network, which teaches marketable job skills to Jewish women, described herself as a problem-solver and focused her fire on Powers’ work in recent years as a lobbyist.

Powers, in a written statement, said, “I am honored and humbled to be elected as the next councilmember for the 4th Council District. I look forward to hearing your ideas for the city and to working together to improve the daily lives of New Yorkers.”

Elsewhere, in District 3, which runs north from the West Village to Columbus Circle, incumbent Corey Johnson swamped his only opponent, Marni Halasa, a skating instructor and Occupy Wall Street activist who ran on the Eco Justice line, winning almost 94 percent of the vote.

In a written statement, Johnson said, “The challenges we face are incredibly complex and entrenched, but the future of our city depends on our ability to address them. An affordable housing crisis, small businesses in crisis, historic income inequality, a homelessness crisis, aging infrastructure, and obsolete public transportation are just a few of the issues we must address.”

District 5 incumbent Ben Kallos, who had bested two Democratic primary opponents in September with three-quarters of the vote, easily defeated Republican Frank Spotorno, a businessman and founder of Bring Our Jobs Home, with more than 80 percent of the vote.

Kallos took the opportunity of his victory to highlight the low voter turnout — only 22 percent citywide — and the need to adopt online voter registration, saying, “Barriers to registration must be removed so that anyone who is eligible to register can do so quickly and easily.”

On the Upper West Side, with 87 percent of the vote, Helen Rosenthal won easy reelection over Republican Hyman Drusin and independent candidate William H. Raudenbush. Rosenthal had earlier easily surmounted spirited primary challenges from her 2013 runner-up, Mel Wymore, a longtime member of Community Board 7 who charged that her office was unresponsive to community concerns, and Dr. Cary Goodman, who centered his campaign on opposition to the American Museum of Natural History annexing a small portion of the surrounding Theodore Roosevelt Park for its planned expansion.

Also on the Upper West Side, District 7 incumbent Mark Levine earned 95 percent of the vote against Green Party candidate Florindo J. Troncelliti. In the September primary, Levine, with almost three-quarters of the vote, easily dispatched challenger Thomas Lopez-Pierre, whose campaign faced harsh criticism for his racially divisive and anti-Semitic appeals.

The next big question is who will succeed term-limited Melissa Mark-Viverito as City Council speaker. Among those in the running are both Levine and Johnson, who is gay, as well as two other gay candidates — Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, and Ritchie Torres, a Latino black man who was the first out LGBTQ elected official in the Bronx — Upper Manhattan’s Ydanis Rodriguez, a Dominican immigrant, Donovan Richards, Jr., an African American from Queens, Brooklynite Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., who co-chairs the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, and Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants who represents a large Caribbean constituency in Brooklyn.

After two consecutive female speakers, no woman appears to be in contention. Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, a Queens councilmember thought to be a strong contender, surprised everyone when she announced earlier this year she would not seek reelection.