City Council Primaries: Where Your Vote Counts the Most

If you’re a registered Democrat in New York City, tomorrow is one of those rare occasions: an election where your vote carries a lot of weight. This is especially true in the City Council primaries, where winning candidates typically need just a few thousand votes to represent districts of more than 150,000 people.

The margins in these races can be razor thin. Four years ago, only 265 votes separated the victorious Diana Reyna from Maritza Davila, the handpicked candidate of then-Democratic boss Vito Lopez, in the 34th District [PDF 1, 2]. Basically, the margin of victory was the size of one normal person’s Twitter following. Tomorrow, Lopez himself faces off against StreetsPAC-endorsed Antonio Reynoso in that same district.

Another stunning stat from 2009: Council Member Sara Gonzalez won the 38th District primary with just 2,271 votes [PDF]. This year Gonzalez is being challenged by StreetsPAC-endorsed Carlos Menchaca.

So it doesn’t take a whole lot of votes for a Democrat to win the primary and then cruise to victory in the general election. (Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than six to one in the city, and less than 10 percent of City Council members are Republicans.)

Several incumbents face challengers tomorrow, and with a number of sitting council members forced out due to term limits, there are plenty of open seats being contested as well. The winners of these elections will probably play a huge role in determining the future of their districts’ streets. As we’ve seen several times in the past few years, council members can make or break redesigns that prioritize walking, biking, and transit. Along with borough presidents, they also appoint people to community boards, whose votes affect the outcome of just about every livable streets proposal.

To see where the candidates for City Council stand on street safety and transit issues, Transportation Alternatives’ voter guide is the most comprehensive resource, with 80 responses to its candidate survey.

On Streetsblog you’ll also find coverage of candidate forums for District 35 in Brooklyn, District 15 in the Bronx, and District 7 in Manhattan, as well as candidate surveys for the City Council races below. (All candidate responses we received are included in these lists, even if they face no challengers in their party’s primary and won’t be on the ballot tomorrow.)

District 3 (Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, West Village)

District 5 (Upper East Side)

District 6 (Upper West Side)

District 11 (Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, and Norwood)

District 22 (Astoria, northern Jackson Heights)

Wondering where your polling place is? Here’s where to go. Happy voting tomorrow.