Volume 18 • Issue 17 | September 16 - 22, 2005

Downtown Express photo by Bob Kreizel

Rosie Mendez exited from the booth after voting early Tuesday morning in the East Village. She went on to win the City Council District 2 Democratic primary.

Mendez, Stringer and Ferrer take primaries

By Lincoln Anderson and Caitlin Eichelberger

In a low-turnout Democratic primary election on Tuesday there weren’t many surprises as the favored candidates in local races all won.

Rosie Mendez, Margarita Lopez’s former chief of staff, was victorious in the primary for City Council in District 2, which covers the area from the Lower East Side to Murray Hill. With 100 percent of the voting booths counted, Mendez had 36 percent, Brian Kavanagh got 19 percent; Gur Tsabar got 16 percent; Darren Bloch got 15 percent; Michael Beys got 7 percent; Reverend Joan Brightharp got 4 percent; and Chris Papajohn got 2 percent. The Board of Elections does not certify the final results until absentee ballots are counted, which will take a week.

Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer appeared to fall just shy of the 40 percent he needed to avoid a runoff in the Democratic primary Tuesday, but U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who got 29 percent, announced Wednesday that he was conceding and that he would not campaign if there is a runoff. Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields finished with 16 percent; City Council Speaker Gifford Miller go 10 percent; Christopher Brodeur 4 percent; and Arthur Piccolo, chairperson of the Bowling Green Association in Lower Manhattan, 1 percent.

In the race for Manhattan borough president, Scott Stringer was the winner. In the Stringer had 26 percent; Eva Moskowitz 17 percent; Margarita Lopez 13 percent; Brian Ellner 12 percent; Bill Perkins 11 percent; Adriano Espaillat 9 percent; Keith Wright 5 percent; Stanley Michels 4 percent; and Carlos Manzano 3 percent.

Incumbent Betsy Gotbaum won the public advocate primary handily, with 48 percent of the vote, avoiding a repeat of her runoff four years ago against civil rights attorney Norman Siegel. And Robert Morgenthau, the incumbent district attorney, defeated Leslie Crocker Snyder by garnering 59.2 percent of the votes cast.

Mendez, speaking the day after the primary, said that despite being the heavy favorite she didn’t take anything for granted.

“Elections are unpredictable,” said Mendez, who is currently a Democratic district leader. “District 2 is about three or four times larger than my district leader part. We had some really good opponents. We had some differences on some things, but on a lot of things we weren’t really that different. I think it came down to my track record.”

Mendez said some of her opponents did resort to negative campaigning, but that she just wants to move on now and if they want to work with her she’ll be happy to work with them.

Given that the district is overwhelmingly Democratic and that she should win the general election handily, she said this gives her a few months to better acquaint herself with the constituency. Among other things, she plans to meet with parents’ groups and the new community education council that has replaced the former community school board.

On how she’ll approach the office in relation to her mentor, Margarita Lopez, Mendez said: “We are two different people. We have two different styles. I think our political philosophy is very similar. But I think our strategies and how we approach things are different.”

Informal interviews with Downtown voters on the afternoon of the primaries showed mixed support in the Council race but demonstrated strong support for Democratic mayoral candidates Weiner and borough president candidate Ellner.

Michael Sobo, a 21-year-old New York University student, said there were really only two candidates he cared about, Weiner and Ellner, though at first he struggled to recall their names.

“The younger guy who is gay, I saw him talk, and he sounded like a really sweet guy,” he said of Ellner. “I came out for Weiner because he wants to legalize gay marriage in New York, and same for Ellner,” Sobo said. “And aside from that, none of the other candidates were saying anything to me.”

At The Cooper Union polling site, Neil Blumenthal, 25, also voted for Weiner. Blumenthal said a deciding factor in his choice was The New York Times endorsement of the candidate.

Mayoral candidate Ferrer also appeared to have a steady stream of supporters exiting the booths.

A woman who only gave her first name, Larissa, 22, an assistant property manager living at Avenue C and 11th St., came out specifically for Ferrer.

“I think he’s going to do a lot for the Latino community,” she said. “I want to see what he can do for us.”

A 72-year-old Seventh St. resident also voted for Ferrer.

“I think he can bring the city together again and get some unity back into the democratic party,” he said. For Council, he voted for Kavanagh. He voted against Lopez for the borough presidency because “she did not deliver for us and is allowing gentrification to continue,” he said, referencing the high-rise at Astor Pl. and its future neighbor at 51 Astor Pl.

It was Lopez, however, who drew Catherine Wollcott, 44, to the Village East voting booth at Avenue C and 11th St. Wollcott called Lopez a “real hero.”

“She’s been a really great advocate for us and the neighborhood,” said the Ninth St. resident. She also voted for Weiner, but doubts any of the Democrats have a chance against Mayor Bloomberg.

Also at the Village East booth, Tenth St. resident Karl Peterson, 38, voted for Weiner, though that is not necessarily who he would vote for in the general election, he said.

“With a name like Weiner, I don’t know how far he’s going to go in politics,” he said. Peterson voted for him in the primary because he is “mistrustful of basically all political rhetoric,” he said. “And I don’t believe he’s any more immune to it than anyone else, but he seemed a little bit more straight forward. Not necessarily more honest, but more straightforward.”

At the polls at the JASA senior residence on E. Fifth St. and the Bowery, Eric Richardson, a 27-year-old senior billing analyst, also voted for Weiner and Ellner. Ellner, he said, because he was the only B.P. candidate he had heard of and Weiner because “he seems like the straightest guy there is in the way that he presents himself and his views — and he’s for middle class tax cuts.”

Few exiting voters could name the council candidate they voted for. Some said they didn’t vote because they weren’t informed and others just marked a candidate.

Irenka Jakubiak said she found the vast number of candidates to be confusing. She relied on the fliers in the mail to make her vote, which she preferred to keep private. She said she was concerned the confusion turns voters away.

As it was, the voter turnout at JASA was slow according to inspector, Jean Standish.

“In my polling spot we’re up to about 76 people all day,” she said at 5:45 p.m., with under four hours before the polls closed.

But at the Village East poll site, the door clerk named Benjamin said the turnout was better than he expected. Every half hour saw 40 to 50 people come through to vote, many of whom were seniors, he said.


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