Gov. Kathy Hochul makes a budget announcement in the Red Room of the Capitol. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul).

Although New Yorkers continued to express concerns about how Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and her Republican opponent Lee Zeldin would address inflation and abortion rights if elected governor, Latinxs at the polls told the Mott Haven Herald and Hunts Point Express that crime weighed heavily on their minds this election.

Several praised Hochul’s focus on safety issues in recent weeks.

Of an increased police presence on subways announced by Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams last month, Lovigilda Vargas of Mott Haven said, “It’s good because I see it now at the subway stations, in the street, also, I see police. Something has been done at least. I feel safer.”

According to the New York University Furman Center, Mott Haven and Hunts Point saw 23.7 and 22 felony-classified crimes per 1,000 residents, respectively, in 2021; comparatively, there were 12.2 serious crimes per 1,000 residents citywide. According to NYPD, the overall crime in New York City increased in October by 5.9% compared to October 2021, driven primarily by car theft. Compared with other cities around the country, however, New York remains much safer than small-town America, with a murder rate much lower than many other cities.

Hochul’s emphasis on crime issues in the last weeks of campaigning was a shift for her and the state’s Democrats after Republican Lee Zeldin made safety a centerpiece of his campaign. 

The Long Island congressman insists that crime and taxes are something New Yorkers are worried about. Polling, which showed a tightening race over the last couple of months, seemed to confirm that assertion.

In a Q&A with Politico, Zeldin downplayed the importance of his support for former President Donald Trump, an association Hochul has highlighted: “So, you can ask about the former president, for example, but if you were to ask New Yorkers what are the issues that are more important to you, the issues that are most important to them have far more to do with crushing taxes and skyrocketing costs and soaring crime.”

Late last month, Democrats Hochul and NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced the creation of three task forces aimed at decreasing violence in the city and stationing more NYPD officers on subway platforms last month.

“My number one priority as governor is keeping New Yorkers safe in the streets, in their homes, in their schools, and on the subway, and we will do whatever it takes to make our subways safer for riders,” said Hochul. The new strategy is designed to help those experiencing homelessness get support and to alleviate concerns of safety in the subways, according to the governor.

Mott Haven voter Yissel Crespo said she saw that strategy in action. “I feel she’s been doing a lot lately. I feel she’s been saying that she’s going to focus on subways,” she said.

Hochul enjoys high popularity among Latinx voters in the borough, even in light of a national rightward shift among Latinx voters over the past few election cycles. Hochul and the Democrats hope today’s results will signify a bulwark for their party in the Bronx, where Republican Donald Trump lost but doubled his share of the vote from 2016 to 2020.

The gains by the GOP among Latinx voters nationally have received significant attention as Latinxs have become an increasing share of the electorate, making up 62% of the total new eligible voters nationally. How many of those newly eligible voters have registered to vote is less clear, and turnout in seven of the community districts, where most of the Bronx’s Latinxs live, has historically lagged that of the borough and the city. 

Additional reporting by Jean Brannum, Gerard Edic, Sunny Nagpaul and Jonnathan Pulla. Editing by Taylor Johnson. 

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