2021 Election Round-Up – Week of Feb. 12

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Editor’s Note: Every Friday, KCP will be posting election news briefs concerning the June 22 Citywide Primaries. This includes the mayor, comptroller, borough president and city council races.  

District 33 Candidates Call out Restler to Return Contribution

City Council Candidate Lincoln Restler.
CREDIT: Benjamin Kanter

This morning on Friday, February 12, candidates running for City Council in District 33; namely April Somboun, Benjamin Solotaire, Elizabeth Adams, Sabrina Gates, Stu Sherman, and Victoria Cambranes; teamed up to condemn fellow candidate, Lincoln Restler, for accepting a $100 campaign contribution from Gary Schlesinger, the CEO and president of ParCare. 

This comes after NYS Attorney General Letitia Ann “Tish” James opened an investigation last month into ParCare Community Clinics for fraud. The clinic allegedly obtained and distributed the COVID-19 vaccine in violation of NYS rules. 

“At a time when confusion and misinformation around vaccine distribution is high and resources are limited, we must be vigilant of any political relationships that compromise public trust in the mass vaccination process and our elected officials,” they said jointly. “We thank Attorney General James for recusing herself from the investigation, and encourage Mr. Restler to return the campaign contribution in the same spirit.”

James reportedly recused herself from the investigation “to avoid even an appearance of conflict” and another political candidate has returned Schlesinger’s donation as well. 

City Council Candidate Echevarria Focuses on Education and the Environment

Rick Echevarria

On Feb. 5, District 37’s candidate Rick Echevarria joined the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYCLVEF) in their panel on New York’s health and environmental issues. He said that he is determined to be a leading voice on protecting the environment and building a sustainable future for the city.

“I am committed to working towards a sustainable future by protecting students, making NYC more resilient, enhancing our recycling, bolstering the electric vehicles movement, and creating green jobs,” said Echevarria. “This is an opportunity to do that in tandem with NYCLV by learning more about and deeply engaging on policy priorities and specific legislative and budgetary actions that should be prioritized in the next city council.”

These panels will be held over the next two weeks. The first two were concerning waste management, building emissions, and infrastructure. The next sessions, on Feb. 18 and 22, will focus on public health and parks, and the city’s resiliency.

Run for Something Endorses Handy-Hilliard for Council District 40  

Kenya Handy-Hilliard

This week, on Feb. 11, Run for Something (RFS), the progressive leadership organization endorsed candidate Kenya Handy-Hilliard in her bid for city council in District 40.

“I’m running to transform my district and address pressing issues like affordable housing and job creation while helping to steer New York City through the worst health and economic crises of our lifetimes. Support from Run for Something adds to the rising momentum of my grassroots campaign as we work to make our vision of New York– a place where everyone, particularly those traditionally overlooked and unprotected, can thrive,” said Handy-Hilliard.

“Our newest class of endorsements bring a unique and valuable perspective to their respective communities, each committed to effecting long-overdue, necessary and progressive change within their community,” said RFS co-founder Amanda Litman. “We have the White House and Congress, which certainly matters, but the real challenge is to build sustainable progressive strongholds in our state and local electorates.”

Butler Scores UFT Endorsement

Henry Butler
Steve Saperstein.

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) labor union has backed Community Board 3 District Manager Henry Butler’s campaign for city council in District 36 yesterday, on Feb. 11.

“Our teachers are some of our finest public servants, and the best way to support our students is to support those working directly in our schools: from the educators opening young minds, to the school nurses and administrators advocating for student health and wellbeing. I look forward to standing with New York’s educators to fight for our schools and students,” said Butler. 

“Henry Butler is a community advocate and leader who will partner with parents and teachers to bring needed resources to our public schools. We need his passion on the City Council to keep education at the forefront of the city’s agenda,” said Michael Mulgrew, President.

Ari Kagan
Democrat District leader Ari Kagan
Shirley Paul

The UFT has also announced 15 city council endorsements for Lincoln Restler in District 33, Jennifer Gutierrez in District 34, Crystal Hudson in District 35, Darma Diaz in District 37, Alexa Aviles in District 38, UFT member Briget Rein for District 39, Josue Pierre in District 40, Alicka Ampry-Samuel in District 41, Nikki Lucas in District 42, Justin Brannan in District 43, Kalman Yeger in District 44, Farah Louis un District 45, Shirley Paul in District 46, Ari Kagan for District 47, and UFT member Steven Saperstein for District 48.

Cornegy Officially Launches Campaign For Brooklyn Borough President

City Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights), was joined by family members, supporters and endorsers at a virtual rally this  Thursday, Feb. 11, to formally launch his campaign for Brooklyn Borough President. 

His supporters included special guests from Brooklyn, like Basketball star Chris Mullin, Brooklyn-raised actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, and Teamsters 237 President Gregory Floyd.

Whitehead Discusses Race Relations with former DL Maslow  

On Thursday, Feb 11, Brooklyn Borough President Candidate Bishop Lamor Miller Whitehead took to Instagram Live to discuss race relations in Brooklyn with former District Leader Lori Maslow. 

Maslow recently resigned after backlash over a ‘racist’ tweet in reference to Chinese tariffs, saying she will boycott goods made in that country and that she “can’t even look at Chinese food.” Maslow has since said she condemns injustices, inequalities, and hatred. 

As a pastor, said Whitehead, forgiveness is important and is why he invited Maslow to discuss racial inequality and how to make Brooklyn better for everyone. “The definition of social justice includes action to address systemic barriers, such as the long-term issues of poverty, inequity, prejudice, racism, and violence. My campaign is committed to helping ensure that the lives of Brooklynites are not decided by zip codes or the color of your skin,” said Whitehead.

Early Polling Shows Yang Ahead of Stringer and Adams For Mayor

Andrew Yang

On February 10, the Pulse of the Primary, a recurring series of quantitative voter surveys, released new findings in the fiercely contested race to replace term-limited incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

Polls show three candidates have strong awareness among voters, Andrew Yang, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, with Yang pulling ahead of the other two closely tied candidates.

“The only poll that matters is on June 22nd. We’re incredibly excited that so many New Yorkers are responding to Andrew’s big ideas for getting vaccines in more arms, opening small businesses and getting New Yorkers back on their feet. We need to make New York City THE COVID-19 comeback city,” said Deputy Press Secretary Edwin Molina for Yang.

Pulse of the primary is run by Fontas Advisors, a leading NYC-based government affairs consultancy, and Core Decision Analytics (CODA). “New York City is at a crossroads and the election of the new mayor will be a pivotal milestone in our recovery from the pandemic and the resulting economic devastation,” said George Fontas, Founder and CEO of Fontas Advisors. 

Wrongfully Convicted New Yorkers Endorse Adams for Mayor

Brooklyn Borough President (BP) Eric Adams was endorsed for Mayor, via Facebook Live, by a group of wrongfully convicted and exonerated Black men this week. 

“It is my honor to accept the endorsements of these men, who have faced such great injustice at the hands of our criminal justice system and turned their pain into purpose,” said Adams. “As mayor, I will make it my mission to bring greater justice to our criminal justice system by bringing diversity, accountability and transparency to the NYPD.”

Shabaka Shakur, Derrick Hamilton, Anthony Ortiz, and Sundhe Moses all had overturned convictions from the 1980s and 90s, and cited Adams’ work to expose corruption and bias in the NYPD and his plans for department reform as to why they are supporting him.

“I have worked with Eric, and I know that he genuinely cares about the rights of the wrongfully convicted–and he has put in the work,” said Shabaka Shakur. “He was the co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care and has always stood up for the rights of others. He was there for Abner Louima. As a senator he was also a sponsor of the legislation to reverse the Rockefeller drug laws. And he was also a loud and effective voice against Stop and Frisk.”

Adams’ 100+ Steps Forward for New York plan lists a series of NYPD reforms he would undertake as mayor.

Yang Calls To Reopen Coney Island Amusement Park

Earlier this week, Mayoral Candidate Andrew Yang joined Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Gravesend, Sea Gate) and local business leaders in calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow Coney Island Amusement park to reopen in time for the summer season. 

Coney Island has remained closed since the start of the pandemic as other indoor entertainment venues such as bowling alleys and movie theaters were allowed to reopen last summer, causing an estimated $100 million loss in revenue in addition to the loss of 2,000 seasonal jobs last year alone.

“When I think of summertime in New York City, the first image that comes to mind is the Wonder Wheel standing tall over the Coney Island boardwalk,” said Yang. “But the People’s Playground is not just an iconic landmark, it’s a vital economic engine that draws 5 million annual visitors from around the world annually, keeping businesses in the area thriving for the 30,000 Brooklyn residents of the surrounding neighborhood that call the area home.”

“New York State still hasn’t drafted a single sentence of reopening guidance for outdoor Coney Island amusements this year, which were closed the entire season for the first time in history last year and are experiencing dire financial hardships,” said Treyger. “We must center the outer-borough economy.”