School's almost out, the pools are almost open, but do not let Summer's Sweet Siren lull you into a place of civic complacency: there is a primary election on Tuesday, June 25th. The stakes are especially high if you're a registered Democrat in Queens, where there is the first competitive primary for a District Attorney in more than 60 years. Here's a quick rundown of what may be on your primary ballot, depending on where you're registered to vote. See whether there's a race in your district here.
Registered Democrats and Republicans in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island all have contests on the ballot. But some of the offices may seem a little unfamiliar to voters.
Who is eligible to vote in tomorrow's election?
New York has a closed primary system, which means only registered voters in a specific party can vote in a primary. On Tuesday, that means just Democrats and Republicans. There are no contested seats in the Bronx tomorrow, but there are a variety of seats on the ballot in the four other boroughs. To see what your ballot will look like, check out this poll site locator which will tell who you are voting for and where you are voting.
There's been a lot of buzz about the Queens District Attorney's race. What’s the big deal?
This is for the Democratic nomination for District Attorney in Queens. But because Democrats have such a huge enrollment advantage there, the winner of the primary is all but officially the new D.A. It's an open seat after the nearly three decade incumbent Richard Brown announced he was stepping down and then passed away earlier this year. Seven candidates will be on the ballot, even though one candidate dropped out on Friday. There are major endorsements from 2020 Democratic candidates that ruffled the feathers of the new Queens Democratic leader. Some even view the contest as the first borough-wide test of the current Queens Democratic party machine since Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned the political establishment beating Joe Crowley last year.
Queens native Max Rivlin-Nadler has a guide to all the candidates in that race here.
Are there any other races in Queens?
Yes, as a matter of fact there are. Queens Democrats countywide will also pick their nominee for Civil Court Judge. It's a 10-year term handling cases involving non-criminal claims of up to $25,000. And there are rarely primaries for this position. Generally the county party organization designates a candidate—but for the first time in a long time, voters have a choice. There are two candidates: Wyatt Gibbons, who has the backing of the county party organization, and Lumarie Maldonado-Cruz, who is challenging him.
All right, what about voters in Brooklyn?
There’s a fierce primary race for the position of surrogates court judge, the position that oversees wills and estates and carries a 14-year term. Margarita López Torres is seeking reelection against Elena Baron and Meredith Jones. López Torres is two years from the mandatory retirement age at 70, and her opponents have questioned why she is running, unless she is seeking to be elevated to the position of Supreme Court Judge, where she can serve until she's 76, a scenario López Torres denied to Gothamist last month. "There's more to life than work," she said. Read our full coverage of that race here.
There's also a countywide civil court judgeship race between Ed King and Bernadette Neckles, and a 6th District civil court race between Caroline Cohen, Tehilah H. Berman, Alice Nicholson, and Chinyelu Udoh. Check out this Brooklyn judicial voters guide for more details on the individual candidates.
My sample ballot lists something called judicial delegates. What is that position and who are these candidates?
These are quintessential insider positions, but they are also really important. Democrats will pick judicial delegates in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. These people will attend judicial conventions later this year to select the nominees to State Supreme Court. There often isn't too much information about these candidates, which is part of the reason this judicial process is often scrutinized.
I live in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Am I really voting for a City Councilmember again?
If you are a registered Democrat, you are! In the 45th City Council district, which is the seat formerly held by now Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, there will be a primary to determine who is on the ballot in November. And the winner there will go on to finish the two years left in the term.
Come on, wasn't there a special election just last month?
Jumaane Williams also won his seat as Public Advocate in a special election—does he need to run again?
He DOES! But not until November. He didn't have a Democratic primary challenger so he’s not on the primary ballot.
What are the races about in Manhattan and Staten Island?
In Staten Island, District Attorney Michael McMahon, a Democrat, is running unopposed. There are also Supreme Court delegate elections, and uncontested civil court contests. You can see who is on your ballot here.
The best thing you can do is know who is on your ballot before going to the poll. Check your local papers and websites for candidate info. And think about joining your local political club if you want to know more about some of these party positions ahead of primary day.