Grand Street Dems announces 2021 endorsements

At last night’s marathon endorsement meeting, Grand Street Dems endorsed a full slate of candidates for New York City’s epic 2021 primary.

Grand Street Dems 2021 Endorsements
JUMAANE WILLIAMS for Public Advocate
BRAD LANDER for Comptroller
LINDSEY BOYLAN for Borough President
ALVIN BRAGG for District Attorney
CAROLINE LASKOW and LEE BERMAN for District Leaders

And a reminder that we had already voted to endorse CHRISTOPHER MARTE for City Council District 1.

Club members voted to make no endorsement for City Council District 2, where Carlina Rivera is running for re-election.

Preparation for 2021 Endorsements

New York City’s 2021 primaries may be the most consequential we’ve ever had. Mayor, Comptroller, Manhattan Borough President, Manhattan District Attorney are all open seats, with many qualified candidates running in all these races, and the post-pandemic fate of our city on the line.

Add to that the unpredictability of ranked-choice voting being offered to voters for the first time ever, and the burden on voters to educate themselves on the candidates and issues becomes even heavier. You can’t just decide who your favorite candidate is, you should be thinking of four other candidates you find acceptable as well.

That’s even more true for members of local political clubs like Grand Street Dems, who are often asked by their neighbors for advice about complicated local races.

GSD will be voting on endorsements in all these races on Monday, February 8. Below is a compendium of information we have for each of the campaigns and candidates.

New York City Mayor

Mayor Bill de Blasio is term-limited. There are too many candidates to review in full; many of them have done so little fundraising and campaigning that it’s fair to say they have no chance of getting elected. We are focusing on a still-large number of viable candidates.

Watch our candidate forum from February:

CandidateCurrent OccupationVID Questionnaire
Eric AdamsBrooklyn Borough PresidentLink
Shaun DonovanFormer Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentLink
Kathryn GarciaFormer Commissioner, NYC Department of SanitationLink
Ray McGuireFormer vice chair, Citigroupn/a
Carlos MenchacaCouncilmember (CD-38)n/a
Dianne MoralesExecutive Director/CEO, Phipps NeighborhoodsLink
Scott StringerNYC ComptrollerLink
Loree SuttonFormer Commissioner, NYC Department of Veterans’ Services; Retired Brigadier GeneralLink
Maya WileyProfessor, New School; Former Chair, CCRB; Former counsel, NYC Mayor’s officeLink
Andrew YangFounder, Venture for AmericaLink

New York City Public Advocate

Jumaane Williams won a special election for Public Advocate in 2019, and is now running for re-election against three challengers.

Our virtual forum with these candidates will be on Saturday, February 6 at 12:00 pm.

Register for Zoom:

CandidateCurrent OccupationVID Questionnaire
Theo Chino2019 Public Advocate candidateLink
Gwen Goodwin2019 Public Advocate candidate; City Council candidate in 2013 and 2017n/a
Tony Herbert2019 Public Advocate candidate; 2014 NY Assembly candidate (AD-55)n/a
Jumaane WilliamsNYC Public Advocate (incumbent)n/a

New York City Comptroller

Current Comptroller Scott Stringer is term-limited (and running now for Mayor). At least five candidates are now running for this open city-wide position, though the final list of candidates is still in flux (Zach Iscol, for example, just recently announced he would not run for Mayor and is running for Comptroller instead).

Watch our candidate forum from January:

CandidateCurrent OccupationVID Questionnaire
Brian BenjaminState Senator (SD-30)Link
Zach IscolCEO/Founder, Grid North Groupn/a
Brad LanderCouncilmember (CD-39)Link
Kevin ParkerState Senator (SD-21)Link
David WeprinAssemblymember (AD-24)Link

Manhattan Borough President

Current B.P. Gale Brewer is term-limited (and now running for City Council). We have six candidates running for this open seat.

Watch our candidate forum from January:

CandidateCurrent OccupationVID Questionnaire
Lindsey BoylanFormer Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Housing for the State of New YorkLink
Elizabeth CaputoU.S. Government Engagement, World Economic Forum; former Chair of Community Board 7Link
Brad HoylmanState Senator (SD-27)Link
Ben KallosCouncilmember (CD-05)Link
Mark LevineCouncilmember (CD-07)n/a
Kim WatkinsPresident, Community Education Council District 3Link

Manhattan District Attorney

Current D.A. Cyrus Vance does not appear to be running for re-election (though has not yet officially made his intentions clear). There are eight candidates running to replace him.

Note that since this is technically a state position, there will not be ranked choice voting for this position in June; you will only be able to vote for one candidate, and whoever wins a plurality will be the Democratic nominee.

Watch our candidate forum from December:

CandidateCurrent OccupationVID Questionnaire
Tahanie AboushiCivil rights attorney; Partner, Aboushi Law Firmn/a
Alvin BraggFormer Chief Deputy Attorney General, NYS Attorney GeneralLink
Liz CrottyPartner, Crotty Saland PC; Former prosecutor, Manhattan DALink
Tali Farhardian WeinsteinFormer general counsel, Brooklyn DA; Former counsel, US Attorney GeneralLink
Diana FlorenceFormer Attorney-in-Charge, Construction Fraud Task Force, Manhattan DALink
Lucy LangFormer Executive Director, Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College; Former special counsel, Manhattan DALink
Eliza OrlinsPublic defender; Staff Attorney, Legal Aid SocietyLink
Dan QuartAssemblymember (AD-73)Link

City Council District 2

Current Councilmember Carlina Rivera is finishing her first term and running for re-election. She is running unopposed for the Democratic primary.

Watch our candidate interview with Rivera:

CandidateCurrent OccupationVID Questionnaire
Carlina RiveraCouncilmember (CD-02)n/a

1/27/21 Remote Meeting recap — Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and debate on ESCR Resolution

Grand Street Dems members met with District 2 Councilmember Carlina Rivera and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who are both running for re-election this year.

We also discussed, and passed, a resolution on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, requesting that the City suspend the project until an independent engineering review can be completed.

Grand Street Dems Resolves to Suspend ESCR Pending Independent Review

Adopted at regular meeting 1/27/21.

In a reply to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, NYC’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) stated that the City’s Value Engineering Study on the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) plan could not be sent because:

“DDC’s search of agency records revealed no responsive documents for [the FOIL] request.”

This means that the present massive $1.45 billion plan lacks the main justification for the change that doubled the cost and destruction.

According to a “Fact Sheet” from de Blasio’s office on Sept. 28, 2018, “The adoption of the new design follows a value engineering study performed earlier this year and a review of the project by a panel of experts with experience from around the nation.”

When an independent analyst from the Dutch firm, Deltares, hired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, reviewed the present ESCR plan (Alternative 4) in 2019, he also requested this Value Engineering Report: “The ‘value engineering report’ leads to the conclusion that Alternative 4 can be completed faster and with a greater degree of certainty,” he wrote. However, he never saw the document. “This value engineering report is not publicly available,” he noted.

The Value Engineering Report was used by the City as justification for approving a plan that would:

  • completely raze the 46 acre East River Park;
  • kill approximately 1000 mature trees and all other vegetation in the 82-year-old park;
  • add a million tons of landfill over 1.2 miles of waterfront;
  • double the initial cost of the project plan; and
  • postpone even temporary flood protection for years.

If there is no Value Engineering Report, then there is no justification for the approved plan.

There has been a sustained outcry from community members and over 14,000 signers of petitions opposing the plan, including 2,000 NYCHA residents, who will be disproportionately affected. Advocates call for flood control that will not completely destroy the park as well as interim flood protection and robust alternate park spaces during the years of construction.

Due to this latest news, we demand the city suspend the ESCR project until it can be reviewed in full, including all documents used to support the conclusions in the City’s final environmental impact statement, by a panel of independent experts.

This position should be communicated to the Mayor and all City, State, and Federal elected officials who represent Grand Street Democrats.

GSD January Meeting: 1/27 at 7 pm with Councilmember Carlina Rivera and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

These are the last of our 2021 candidate interviews for two races that are not heavily contested but nevertheless very important to our community — City Council District 2 and NYC Public Advocate.

GSD January Meeting
Wednesday, January 27
7:00 – 8:15 pm
Register for Zoom

We will also be participating in full candidate forums for Public Advocate on Feb. 6 and NYC Mayor on Feb. 7 ahead of our big endorsement meeting on Feb. 8.

Downtown Democrats Candidate Forum – District Attorney

There are a lot of candidates and a lot to take in, but it’s worth watching (or listening to) this candidate forum for Manhattan District Attorney since there are so many outstanding individuals running to bring real systemic justice reform to the office of Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

Grand Street Dems was proud to sponsor this forum with other Democratic clubs from Downtown Manhattan. We will do so again in January and February for the several other big NYC campaigns — Manhattan Borough President and NYC Comptroller on January 10, and NYC Mayor and Public Advocate on February 7.

Manhattan Young Dems Application for 2021 Board – Due December 21

Manhattan Young Democrats is focused on driving policy changes via legislative advocacy and grassroots organizing on issues affecting younger Americans, including affordable housing, the climate crisis, and education affordability/accessibility.

Applications to the 2021 Board are open to individuals between the ages of 18-35 who either live or work in Manhattan. Applications are due by December 21 at 11:59 pm.

Available positions include:

  • Political Director – Legislative Priorities
  • Political Director – Rapid Action Response
  • Political Director – County Committee Coordinator
  • Legal Director
  • Finance Director
  • Design Director
  • Event Director
  • Programming Director
  • Engagement Director
  • Communications Director
  • Technical Director
  • Social Media Director/Content Creator
  • College and University Liaison
  • High School Liaison
  • Create Your Own!

If you have any questions or want more information, please email

GSD December Meeting: 12/9 at 7 pm with three more candidates for Borough President

We are continuing our 2021 candidate interviews next week with three more candidates for Manhattan Borough President — Elizabeth Caputo, Lindsey Boylan, and Kim Watkins.

GSD December Meeting
Wednesday, December 9
7:00 – 8:15 pm
Register for Zoom

We’ve been holding these online candidate interviews for Grand Street Dems members for months, including with the other B.P. candidates Mark Levine, Ben Kallos, and Brad Hoylman, in order to make informed endorsements in 2021. Please come ready with questions.