Manhattan election roundup: Few surprises, but history made with Yusef Salaam clinching City Council seat

Manhattan City Council election winner Yusef Salaam
Yusef Salaam, shown after winning the Democratic primary in June, was elected to the 9th City Council District seat in Harlem on Nov. 7, 2023.
File photo/Paul Frangipane

Nine incumbent Manhattan City Council members emerged victorious Tuesday night from a surprise-free general election that also saw Yusef Salaam, a member of the “Exonerated Five,” clinch a spot in the city’s legislature.

Salaam defeated three other challengers — including two long-time veteran lawmakers in Assembly Members Inez Dickens and Al Taylor — in June’s Democratic primary for the 9th District seat based in Harlem. He won the seat unopposed Tuesday, and will succeed the outgoing Kristen Richardson Jordan come January.

More than 30 years ago, Salaam and four others were wrongfully charged and convicted in the infamous rape of a jogger in Central Park. He served seven years in prison before the conviction was ultimately overturned, and the “Central Park Five” were renamed the “Exonerated Five.” 

“In my darkest moments, when seemingly the world was against the so-called Central Park Five, I never gave up hope — and tonight, this victory represents hope for our Harlem community,” Salaam said in a Nov. 7 statement. “To my four brothers who went through that vilification and then exoneration, this win is for those scared kids decades ago who were railroaded through the criminal injustice system that wanted us dead. We survived because we knew we were right, and eventually, the world did, too.”

Salaam pledged to bring about a “new Harlem Renaissance … filled with good jobs, opportunities, better schools, more affordable housing, safe communities, and vibrant, joyful streets.”

“The hard work begins now,” he added. “This community was there for more when nobody else was, and now it is the honor of a lifetime to give back. We have a lot of work to do, and it won’t be easy, but I am ready to put everything into it.”

Other results

As for the other nine Manhattan City Council seats on the ballot Tuesday, the incumbent Council Members prevailed — most with relative ease over token opposition, and some having no opposition at all.

The 2023 Council elections were the result of redistricting halfway through the four-year terms. Tuesday’s winners won the right to remain in office through 2025, when they’ll be up for election again, in most cases.

Christopher Marte retained his 1st District seat (Lower Manhattan) over Republican challenger Helen Qiu. Marte had 67.86% of the vote with 94.34% of the scanners reported.

Erik Bottcher ran away with re-election to the 3rd District seat (Chelsea), besting Republican Robert Bobrick, garnering more than 89% of the vote.

Keith Powers will continue on in the 4th District seat (Midtown), as he defeated Republican Brian Robinson, securing 74.23% of the vote with 85.04% of scanners reported.

Julie Menin also cruised to victory Tuesday with her victory in the 5th District race (Upper East Side) over Republican Elizabeth Golluscio; Menin had 81.1% of the vote with 90.15% of scanners reported. 

Gale Brewer was handily re-elected to the 6th District seat (Upper West Side) over challengers Diane di Stasio and Barbara Simpson, earning 81.1% of the vote with 91.49% of scanners counted. 

Diana Ayala bested Republican Exodus Gary with ease in the 8th District race (Upper Manhattan, Bronx), garnering 87.22% of the vote with 92.91% of scanners reported.

The unopposed winners on Tuesday included City Council Members Carlina Rivera (2nd District, Lower East Side/East Village), Shaun Abreu (7th District, Washington Heights), and Carmen De La Rosa (10th District, Upper Manhattan).