Facing a spike in crime and an economic downturn propelled by the pandemic, New York City voters turned out Tuesday to put a former police officer into City Hall to replace Bill de Blasio. By the time the polls closed on Democratic Primary Election Day, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams enjoyed a comfortable lead over his opponents in the mayoral election, and nowhere was his support stronger than in the Bronx.
Although the final results of the Primary may not be known for weeks due to the new wrinkle of ranked-choice voting, Bronxites preferred Adams, who has served as Brooklyn’s Borough President since 2014.
At last count, Adams has 253,234 first-place votes citywide, followed by lawyer and civil rights activist Maya Wylie with 177,722, and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia with 155,812. But ranked voting allows for second, third and fourth place votes to be counted, and that counting is set to begin on June 29. Although unlikely, that means Wylie or Garcia could still win the mayoralty.
Adams’ biggest advantage from all the boroughs was in the Bronx, where he received 42,812 first-place votes, to Wylie’s 15,946 and Garcia’s 9,268.
Shortly after the polls closed, Adams, a former NYPD captain, told his supporters, “We know there’s going to be 2’s and 3’s and 4’s, but there’s something else we know, that New York City said ‘Our first choice is Eric Adams.’”
During his campaign, Adams ran on a promise to strengthen small businesses and deliver direct aid to New Yorkers to assist in recovering from COVID-19. But he coupled his loudest message, public safety, with a promise to reform the NYPD.
Adams compared his own rise in politics with that of outgoing Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who stood behind him during the near-victory speech, comparing the squalid surroundings they grew up in, in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and the odds they overcame before staking out a path in elected office.
Adams’ promise of safer streets resonated with some South Bronx Voters, such as Charmaine John, a Hunts Point resident.
“I want more police in the train station. Because like me, I drive my daughter to school. She’s getting older. I would like to take a train but I’m scared. I’m basically scared to even, say, go take a walk or go to the park,” said John, in front of PS 48 where she had cast her vote. “Somebody’s just got to care.”
Others, such as Kendra Brown, a teacher from Port Morris, said she chose Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia as her first choice based on her emphasis on education.
“She [Garcia] seemed to speak to a lot of just day to day in specifics of what schools need,” said Brown. “In this situation with a pandemic we realized how important schools are.”
In the race to replace Diaz Jr. as borough president of the Bronx, City Council Member Vanessa Gibson took an early lead with 33,045 first-place votes borough-wide, followed by Councilman Fernando Cabrera, the Bronx Democratic machine’s favorite, with 28,874. Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez was third with 11,981 first-place votes. State Sen. Luis Sepulveda had 8,320 and Sammy Ravelo, a former police officer at the 41st Precinct in Longwood, finished with 1,576, meaning he is already eliminated from the race, based on ranked voting rules.
Of the three Assembly districts that comprise Hunts Point, Longwood, Melrose, Mott Haven and Port Morris, Gibson dominated, with 7,943 first-place votes. Cabrera’s 6,061 placed him a distant second.
Although turnout was light at polling sites across the South Bronx, some embraced the chance to make their voices heard. Mott Haven resident Johnathon Terran, 37, voted for Cabrera in the borough president race.
“This was my first time voting and I wanted to see if it makes a difference,” he said, at the Betances Community Center on E. 146th Street, where he had cast his ballot.
Jonathan’s stepmother, Monica Terran, 49, also voted for Cabrera, saying that she hopes for change from a new borough president.
In the mayoral election Monica went for Eric Adams because of his emphasis on law-and-order.
Among City Council elections for the South Bronx, incumbents Diana Ayala and Rafael Salamanca Jr. held onto their seats by comfortable margins.
In District 8, which includes Port Morris and Mott Haven as well as East Harlem, Diana Ayala led Tamika Mapp by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, 5,971 to 3,103.
in Distict 17, which includes Hunts Point, Longwood and Melrose, Salamanca leads former health care administrator and organizer Helen Hines by a comfortable 4,632 to 3,030 margin with nearly all the votes in.
In the race for Comptroller, the South Bronx favored Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, but former City Council Member Brad Lander is well ahead.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams appears likely to hold onto his position with ease. Williams had a strong showing in South Bronx Districts, and is leading the race citywide.
Additional reporting by Rachel Dalloo, John Honan and Joseph Kottke.