Yesterday, New York City Democrats chose the candidate who’s campaigned as the anti-Bloomberg. But on issues of traffic safety and surface transit, Bill de Blasio, despite some wavering, has pledged to build on the current administration’s progress while tackling the unfinished business of reforming the NYPD’s approach to traffic violence. And with several City Council candidates endorsed by the newly-formed StreetsPAC winning hotly contested primaries, the results of last night’s election bode well for livable streets in NYC over the next four years. As StreetsPAC board member Eric McClure put it, “It’s clear from the results of the primary that support for safe and complete streets has gone mainstream.”
Barring an unlikely run-off victory by former comptroller Bill Thompson, de Blasio will move on to face Republican Joe Lhota, a disappointment so far on livable streets issues, as well as former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, the Independence Party candidate, and tech entrepreneur Jack Hidary, running on the Jobs and Education line.
Most of the City Council primary winners, meanwhile, are all but guaranteed election in November. These are the races in which StreetsPAC’s endorsements and volunteers made the biggest impact. In 13 of the 18 council primaries where StreetsPAC made an endorsement, the candidate won. The most significant victories came in District 38 (Sunset Park, Gowanus, and Red Hook), where challenger Carlos Menchaca knocked off incumbent Sara Gonzalez, and District 34 (South Williamsburg and parts of Bushwick and Ridgewood), where Antonio Reynoso put an end to former Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez’s bid to resuscitate his political career.
Other StreetsPAC candidates winning contested open seats include Ritchie Torres in District 15, replacing the term-limited Joel Rivera; Vanessa Gibson in District 16, replacing the term-limited Helen Foster; Mark Levine in District 7, replacing the term-limited Robert Jackson; and Costa Constantinides in District 22, replacing the term-limited Peter Vallone Jr. These elections could have an immediate impact on livable streets projects. Levine’s district, for instance, includes the western blocks of 125th Street, and as a candidate he asked NYC DOT to revive plans for Select Bus Service on the congested corridor.
“City Council members have a lot of influence over what happens in their districts and on their streets,” said StreetsPAC board member Glenn McAnanama. “This new generation of leaders like Carlos Menchaca and Antonio Reynoso in Brooklyn, Costa Constantinides in Astoria, and Richie Torres and Vanessa Gibson in the Bronx will be very important allies as the complete street revolution continues to transform New York City’s streets into safer places for all street users. A number of these new faces come from districts that had council members or opponents that were indifferent, skeptical, or outright opposed to making the changes necessary to make our streets safer and more livable. We are confident that our endorsed candidates will hit the ground running in helping to extend the gains of the past few years to a broader set of communities in our great city.”