Bronxites vote on June 22

Voters who didn’t cast their ballots early in the 2021 primary elections can hit the polls to vote tomorrow, June 22. Early voting ended on Sunday. 

This year’s Democratic primaries feature a race for a new Bronx borough president, as term-limited Ruben Diaz Jr. leaves office after serving the borough for 12 years. Five democratic nominees are vying to replace him and help aid the Bronx in its recovery, after the pandemic hit the borough hard. The candidates include City Council members Fernando Cabrera and Vanessa Gibson, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, State Sen. Luis Sepulveda and retired NYPD lieutenant Samuel Ravelo.

The candidates’ main focus is getting the Bronx back on track to the economic growth experienced prior to the pandemic. A key point in that recovery will be to increase the number of vaccinated residents in the Bronx. As of June 17th, the borough had the lowest number of fully vaccinated residents in the city at 39 percent.

“We have to let health professionals work with us and walk with us on this journey because many of our residents are worried about side effects,” said Gibson in last month’s debate among the candidates on NY1.

The candidates agreed that vaccinations are the best way to breathe life back into the Bronx. Cabrera said that his efforts would largely target younger residents who are hesitant to receive the shot, while Fernandez will continue to emphasize community outreach to educate Bronxites about the vaccine.

Council member Cabrera was recently backed by former borough president Adolfo Carrión and leads the candidates in donations totaling $261,848. Gibson follows close behind with a total of $231,409. However, Gibson has also received several endorsements from unions including the United Federation of Teachers, Council of School Administrators and Supervisors, and the 32BJ union.

Fernandez said she will bring jobs to the Bronx with her green plan,  “investing” in renewable energies to reduce the borough’s carbon footprint. Additionally, it will aim to bring solar panels to NYCHA complexes, schools and libraries as well as supporting and funding “the development of union-friendly job training programs for the green energy sector,” according to her website.

In a candidates forum on BronxNet that aired on June 17, Sepulveda doubled down on his plans to create “15-minute cities,” neighborhoods where residents can rely on finding most of their essentials, including nutritious food, within a short walk of their homes. Cabrera, meanwhile, repeated a mantra of wanting to act as “middleman” to help broker understanding between differing sides of heated issues, such as developers and open space advocates.

Two other important races are taking place in the 8th and 17th City Council districts. Incumbents Diana Ayala, who represents the 8th City Council district, and Rafael Salamanca Jr., who represents the 17th City Council district, are favored to win against political outsiders.

Ayala took office in 2017 after working in the district for nearly two decades in social service agencies. She has far outraised her competitors with $55,839.60 compared to opponent Tamika Mapp’s $12,082.41. Manuel Onativia and Antoinette D. Glover have yet to raise any money for their campaigns.

Rafael Salamanca Jr. has held office since 2016 and  is the favorite to win the 17th City Council district against Helen Hines, a retired healthcare union representative. Salamanca has raised a total of $505,929.55 compared to Hines’  $10,955.65.

Like the borough president race, the main issue for City Council is rebuilding their districts after the pandemic. In January, Ayala became chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing and stepped down from the Committee on Mental Health. Mapp’s platform includes fighting for New York City to raise the minimum wage to $20 and increase access to union jobs by providing internship programs in high schools to help fight unemployment.

Citywide, the mayoral race has grabbed most voters’ attention, but a new comptroller and Public Advocate will also be voted in. Check out everything you need to know about the citywide races in this thorough series of explainers from The City.

The general election will be held on Nov. 2. As has been the case for decades, any Democrat who wins tomorrow’s primaries in the Bronx is virtually ensured of winning in November.

This election will also be the first time that New York City is using a ranked-choice voting system. Voters will be able to rank up to five candidates in the order of preference, rather than selecting only one candidate. Information on where to vote in the Bronx can be found by typing your address here.