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The election results, the argument for IRV, and the AY effect

Maybe I was wrong when I took the New York Times to task for not issuing an endorsement in the race for the 35th Council district.

The Times announced endorsements in "several of the most competitive districts" and I thought that Delia Hunley-Adossa would give incumbent Letitia James a decent run. Well, despite something of a stealth campaign, Hunley-Adossa's camp worked hard in the final weeks, with a significant presence putting up posters.

But James won 81% of the vote in a low-turnout election, despite some Hunley-Adossa shenanigans. I still think the race deserved editorial comment, but it clearly wasn't competitive.

The 33rd and the argument for IRV

As I'd warned, the race in the 33rd Council District turned into something a circular firing squad, with the following results:
Steve Levin 5,199 (33.7 percent)
Jo Anne Simon 3,109 (20.2 percent)
Isaac Abraham 1,937 (12.56 percent)
Evan Thies 1,915 (12.4 percent)
Ken Diamondstone 1,324 (8.6 percent)
Doug Biviano 1,127 (7.3 percent)
Ken Baer 811 (5.3 percent)

It wasn't surprising that Levin, the candidate with the endorsements of unions, party boss Vito Lopez, and several bigfoot elected officials, won more than a third of the vote. (A losing candidate tells Aaron Short the high Hasidic turnout made the difference.) It was moderately surprising that Jo Anne Simon, who had the Times endorsement, got only 20% of the vote.

It was somewhat surprising that Isaac Abraham, a candidate with strength mainly in the South Williamsburg Hasidic community, won more votes than Evan Thies, who had endorsements from the Daily News, the Brooklyn Paper, and the Citizens Union.

And it was gloomily predictable that the two of three candidates who pushed hardest against the frontrunners, Ken Diamondstone and Doug Biviano, were lagging.

Given Levin's connection to the county Democratic party and fence-sitting posture on Atlantic Yards, it's a good bet that nearly all those voting for his rivals would have preferred another candidate.

With Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which allows voters to rank preferences, majority opinion is better expressed. Simon or (perhaps) Thies would have had a better chance.

And, perhaps more importantly, the many who avoided the election--some because they didn't think their votes would count--might have showed up.

DDDB quotes Levin in AYR: "At the present moment, it looks like it's probably not going to happen," Levin said. "So I do not support the plan as it currently stands. I think it's too much, it's too big. And I believe that it shouldn't be supported because the silver lining in the original plan, the affordable housing and the union jobs that would be created, does not look like it's going to be there."

I think that's pretty ambiguous.

In the 39th

The results in the 39th District:
Brad Lander 5,129 (41.1 percent)
Josh Skaller 3,180 (25.5 percent)
John Heyer 2,753 (22.1 percent)
Bob Zuckerman 930 (7.5 percent)
Gary Reilly 472 (3.8 percent)

Lander, who had endorsements of the Times, Daily News, and several unions, won a decisive victory, and almost surely would have won in a situation of IRV, given that his prime challenger, Skaller, was somewhat to his (relative) left and the other candidates were not.

The AY effect

The current configuration regarding Atlantic Yards is changed only somewhat. DDDB claims that three who oppose AY won, but one is a fence-sitter and the other a latecomer to opposition. Veteran opponents of AY lost in both districts.

Project opponent James remains in office. In the 33rd, Levin's fence-sitting posture is not unlike that of incumbent David Yassky, though clearly the current climate pushed Levin toward more rhetorical criticism.

Lander, though not a longtime opponent like Skaller, is a longtime critic who now says the project should be scrapped--again, likely to respond to Skaller's challenge.

Though Lander may feel pressure from some supporters to moderate that position, it's a much tougher position than that held by the incumbent, Bill de Blasio. So Lander should be more of an ally to James on the issue.

Public Advocate candidate Norman Siegel, an AY opponent, lost, and the two candidates in the runoff, Mark Green and Blasio, are supporters. But so is incumbent Betsy Gotbaum.

In the Comptroller's race, AY supporter Bill Thompson will be replaced by either Council Member David Yassky and John Liu, both of whom have expressed occasional skepticism along with essential support.

Thompson beat AY opponent Tony Avella in the race for Democratic nomination for mayor. Perhaps most importantly, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, an unyielding project supporter, is highly favored to win a third term.


  1. Tish won more votes than almost any City Council candidate. I think Tish's margin of victory over her next opponent was the largest in any race. Her vote count was one of the highest in the city, and she didn't even break a sweat. AY is the central issue of the district, and she proudly stated support for community opposition to Mr. Ratner.

    She is one of the most popular and senior council members. She has earned the respect of her fellow council members.

  2. DDDB's blog says that opponents of AY won. It did not color what kind of opponents. All it said is that the two newcomers are on the record stating that they don't think it should be supported (Levin) and it should be scrapped (Lander).

    What to call that other than opposition, "non-support?"

    Will they actively oppose AY? We'll see. Will they stick to their campaign comments? That remains to be seen.

    But i don't see what is ambiguous about this statement from Levin "I believe that it shouldn't be supported..."

    What is clear is that neither was comfortable saying they support AY.

    Only time will tell whether or not it was empty campaign rhetoric.

  3. letitia james' crushing victory over the better funded hunley-adossa speaks volumes about local sentiment towards the ay project

    james' 81% of the vote was the 2nd largest percentage of all nyc council candidates, and only 1% behind #1

    james' 7500 votes was the 2nd largest vote total of all nyc council candidates, and only 250 votes behind #1

    james' district is impacted by ay more than any other district in the city, and it's voters are more focused & informed on ay than voters elsewhere

    bloomberg and other candidates can get away with supporting ay only because their constituents are so poorly informed about the project, and are not as heavily impacted by ay as those in prospect heights are

    james' resounding victory on tuesday should once and for all end the debate about local reaction to ay

    prospect heights residents are overwhelmingly against ratner's boondoggle!!!


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