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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Union-backed candidates win across the City in Primary elections

Photo by Mike Lee
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at City Hall Rally after he won the June 22 Democratic Party Primary.

History was made—and not just because of how the votes were counted.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, New York City voters came out for one of the most, if not the most, important Democratic primaries in a generation.

The June 22 primary was the first, major citywide election that used Ranked-Choice Voting. As multiple rounds of votes were tabulated, voters ushered in dozens of labor-friendly candidates from the top down—everyone from the contentious field of mayor to other city- and borough-wide races. However, the biggest impact in the primary was in the City Council, sweeping toward victory dozens of reform-minded, progressive candidates.

In a close and at times belligerent race, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams emerged the Democratic nominee for NYC Mayor, defeating his closest rivals: former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley, former Counsel to Mayor de Blasio and an MSNBC legal analyst.

Adams, a retired NYPD Captain and long-time activist who also served in the New York State Senate, became a key leader during the pandemic, helping to distribute needed PPE to frontline workers and citizens in the early stages. He promises a new way of leadership in a city that suffered a heavy human toll from the virus, and bore the brunt of last year’s economic shutdown.

As mayor, Adams intends to deliver on an ambitious plan to rebuild the city still reeling from the pandemic’s impact on communities hardest hit by the health crisis to ensure a fair and equitable recovery for all New Yorkers.

Adams’ plans also include working with the City Council to introduce long-overdue police and school reforms, while pushing forward on significant investments in green jobs, including retrofitting city buildings and developing renewable energy projects.

DC 37 played a decisive role in getting Adams over the finish line. Through the efforts of the DC 37 Political Action Department and member activists, the union also was successful on behalf of dozens of candidates for executive positions and the City Council.

Photo by Mike Lee
City Council Member Vanessa Gibson won her primary to become Bronx Borough President.
DC 37-endorsed Public Advocate Jumaane Williams decisively won re-election. Donovan Richards was re-elected as Queens Borough President, NYC Council member Vanessa Gibson was elected as Bronx Borough President, and Council member Mark Levine won his race for Manhattan Borough President. All were endorsed by DC 37.

Gibson, who has represented the Bronx’s 16th District since 2014, made history as the first Black woman elected as a Borough President.

DC 37 also was part of the Labor Strong 2021 coalition of five major citywide unions — DC 37, 32BJ SEIU, Communication Workers of America (CWA) District 1, The Hotel Trades Council (HTC), and the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) — that endorsed a slate of 31 City Council candidates at a Jan. 27 virtual press conference.

“The strength and resiliency of this city is rooted in the labor movement,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said at that press conference. “When labor stands together in unity, we win.”

The union coalition, representing 362,000 of New York City’s public workers, campaigned heavily on behalf of 31 endorsed City Council candidates, of which 28 emerged as victors in their primaries.

The impact of the Labor Strong 2021 coalition’s pivotal role in the June 22 primary, and in the upcoming General Election on Nov. 2, centers around progressive labor as a major influence and a key voice in city politics for the future. These include a sizable number of women winning their primary elections. Nearly 30 women are expected to win in November’s general election, thus making up the majority of Council members, remaking the city’s legislative chamber, and making history.

The future City Council will be more representative of city residents. Of the women who won their primaries, 86% are women of color, ushering in a new era in New York City politics.

The deadline for absentee ballot requests is Tuesday, Oct. 26. Due to the ongoing pandemic, all New York City voters are eligible to vote by mail. Early in-person voting for the General Election runs from Saturday, Oct. 23 through Sunday, Oct. 31.