The New York City Council is poised to see a mix of new and veteran members assume power in 2022, with more than two-thirds of the 51-member Council still to be decided in the coming weeks, according to the city's new ranked-choice voting system. Some will be new to public service; others are prepared to push a progressive agenda and serve as a counterweight to the next mayor, whoever that may be. While we wait for official results, here are some top takeaways to consider.
Listen to WNYC/Gothamist's David Cruz break down some early takeaways from the New York City Council races
Women Likely To Outnumber Men
The goal of having more female representation on the City Council appears to have been met, with 29 of the 46 races in the Democratic primary showing a woman in the lead so far. If that holds, women will outnumber men on the Council for the first time in city history.
Some of those efforts were aided by the 21 in ’21 campaign, which sought to elect at least 21 women to the New York City Council. They included Marjorie Velazquez for the 13th Council District, Pierina Sanchez for the 14th Council District, and Selvena Brooks-Powers for the 31st Council District. Some of the same female candidates running for a seat in the Bronx and supported by the 21’ in 21 group were also supported by the Bronx Democratic Party.
With more women on the forefront, policy experts said this might put the spotlight on issues affecting women such as maternal mortality, childcare, and reproductive rights.
15 Seats Avoid RCV Runoff
At least 15 contests will likely avoid the process of ranked-choice voting. That’s because one candidate obtained 50% or more of early and in-person first-choice votes to avoid an automatic runoff election. Those seats include the 6th, 13th, 16th, and 34th Council Districts, which were all open seats. The remainder of the seats involved an incumbent. Incumbents for the 2nd, 8th, 17th, 21st, 24th, 28th, 30th, 31st, and 45th Council Districts appeared to have secured their seat for another term. It was a different story in the 41st Council District, in which the challenger clobbered the incumbent.
Good Night For Incumbents, Save Two
While most incumbents held onto their seats, Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuels of the 41st Council District appears to have lost to Darlene Mealy, the previous seat-holder in that district. First-choice preliminary votes show Mealy with 57.3% of the vote over Ampry-Samuel, who has 42.1% of the vote, as 93.53% of precincts reporting so far. This makes Ampry-Samuel the only incumbent likely to not only lose her seat, but lose it to a previous Councilmember allowed to return to the Council after sitting out at least one term. (Current rules allow Council members to hold two consecutive four-year terms, but must sit out at least one term.) Also not having a good night is Councilmember Dharma Diaz of the 37th Council District. She is currently behind challenger Sandy Nurse, who has a comfortable lead.
“Boomerang” Councilmembers Leading
Mealy isn’t the only former Councilmember with a big chance to return to the Council. First-choice results so far show three former Councilmembers a likely comeback to the Council, given their lead in their respective races. Among them is Gale Brewer, the current Manhattan Borough President, who leads in the race to reclaim her old seat in Manhattan’s 6th Council District. Results show she has 53.7% of the vote, with 98.8% of precincts reporting.
Tony Avella, who once represented the 19th Council District in Queens, leads in the race for his old seat, with 37.1% of the vote. Richard Lee, a leading candidate, is not too far behind with 29.9% of the vote. Nearly all precincts are reporting in, though absentee ballots remain pending.
Charles Barron, the current Assemblymember, is a step closer to reclaiming his old seat in Brooklyn’s 42nd Council District with 47.3% of the vote and 99% of precincts reporting him. He maintains a comfortable lead over Nikki Lucas, who has 36.77% of the vote. Barron seeks to reclaim his seat that is currently being held by his wife, Inez.
Some Gains For DSA
The Democratic Socialists of America made modest gains in electing their endorsed candidates to the Council. Of the six candidates they backed, two are leading in their respective races. They include Tiffany Caban for the 22nd Council District in Queens (she is also claiming victory), and Alexa Aviles for the 38th Council District in Brooklyn.
The rest—including Adolfo Abreu for the 14th Council District in the Bronx, Jaslin Kaur in the 23rd Council District in Queens, Michael Hollingsworth in Brooklyn's 35th Council District, and Brandon West in the 39th Council District, also in Brooklyn—trail so far. With only two members of the DSA making some inroads, their influence doesn't appear to completely shift the Council's political ground to the left.
First South Asian Councilmember?
The likelihood of the first South Asian Councilmember is high, with three contenders of South Asian descent leading in three separate Council races, according to preliminary results. They include Shekar Krishnan, who has a comfortable lead in the 25th Council District in Queens; Felicia Singh, who is slightly on top in the race for the 32nd Council District seat in Queens with 36.23% of the vote; and Shahana Hanif with 32.4% of the vote tally, well past other challengers in the race for Brooklyn’s 39th Council District.
South Asians make up 30% of Asians, according to New York City population estimates.
The article was updated to reflect Sandy Nurse is in the lead for the 37th Council District seat.