5 Races you should know about from Tuesday's Primaries
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
1. Queens District Attorney
As of 11 p.m. and 99% of precincts reporting, public defender Tiffany Cabán is leading the crowded Democratic primary field with 39.7% of the vote, holding a slim 1,200-vote lead over her nearest rival, Borough President Melinda Katz, who currently has 38.2%. Katz, who has previously won two borough-wide races, had been viewed as the front-runner and had the backing of the Queens County Democratic Party and most major unions.
If the results maintain, Cabán, who said she would be a “decarceral prosecutor,” would drastically change how the DA’s office does business in Queens. The previous officeholder, the late Richard Brown, was the longest-serving DA in New York City and was seen as a conservative, tough-on-crime prosecutor, notably allowing ICE into Queens courthouses to detain undcoumented immigrants. In contrast, Cabán wants to “end the criminalization of poverty” and would decline to prosecute for acts such as turnstile jumping and sex work. She has promised to rethink how violent crimes are prosecuted and is against the building of a community jail in Queens, which is part of a proposal to close Rikers Island.
Katz had been the frontrunner since the race began, but likely split the vote among more moderate Democratic primary voters with former judge and prosecutor Greg Lasak, who currently holds 14.5% of the vote. Lasak charted a moderate position in the race and was endorsed by the police unions and both the New York Post and the New York Daily News.
2. NYC Council District 45 (Brooklyn)
Farah Louis, who has been on the City Council for about a month, will continue to serve in that position, winning Tuesday’s primary with 52% of the vote. When Jumaane Williams was elected Public Advocate in February, he vacated his seat on the City Council. Because of New York’s elections laws, there was a special election in Mayfor voters to choose who would replace Williams for the remainder of the year. That race was won by Farah Louis, who defeated Monique Chandler-Waterman, who was Williams’ preferred candidate, among a crowded field. Louis received 42% of the vote to Chandler-Waterman’s 30%.
The primary election on Tuesday was for voters to choose who would be the Democratic party nominee for a general election in November that will decide who will serve the rest of Williams’ term, which lasts until 2021. Chandler-Waterman continued her campaign past the special election into Tuesday’s primary. After her special election loss, Chandler-Waterman accused Louis of relying on “Trump supporters” to win. The special election allowed all voters to participate while Tuesday’s primary was restricted to registered Democrats. Chandler-Waterman received about 41% of the vote in the primary, up 11% from her May result, but still 11% behind Louis.
3. Rockland County District Attorney
Former judge Thomas Walsh will be the Democratic nominee and likely next District Attorney for Rockland County. He won 51% of votes in the race, followed by Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski with 25% and Patricia Gunning with 16%. The Patrolmen Benevolent Association and other police unions had endorsed Walsh, who has promised to be tough on drug offenses and violent crime.
Walsh is also the nominee of the Republican and Conservative parties, which had no other candidates in their primaries, so in all likelihood he will be the county’s new DA with no real contest in the November general election.
4. Queens Civil Court (Countywide)
In another Queens surprise, Lumarie Maldonado-Cruz defeated Wyatt Gibbons in a countywide race for a seat on the Civil Court in Queens. The Queens County Democratic Party had backed Gibbons, who has donated $6,000 to the county party since 2011, which attracted some criticism. Maldonado-Cruz, a recent transplant to the borough from the Bronx, had aligned herself with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and said the usual lack of competition in local judicial election is “unconscionable.” Out of seventeen Civil Court races across New York City, only five were competitive.
This race had a much wider margin than the DA primary. Maldonado-Cruz won by nearly twenty-five points, with 62% to Gibbons’ 37.5%. Assuming the result in the DA’s race holds, this will be the second defeat for the Queens County Democratic primary in this off-year primary election. This also comes after now-Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s defeat of then-county party chair Joe Crowley in last year’s congressional primary. This is something to take note of since the “Queens machine” had previously been seen as formidable.
5. Mount Vernon Mayor
This is another close race that is likely too close to call as of now. However, Shawyn Patterson-Howard currently leads incumbent Richard Thomas by a 227-vote margin, 1,663 to 1,436. Patterson-Howard would be the first female mayor of Mount Vernon and could follow Thomas, who was the youngest mayor at 33 when first elected. Thomas is set to go to trial in two weeks on six counts of misusing campaign funds, which was likely on voters’ minds when casting their ballots
According to News 12 Westchester, “some of [Patterson-Howard’s] top priorities are business development, restoring the city's infrastructure, revitalizing Memorial Field and strengthening the police department.”