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.

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.

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.

Gigi Li, candidate for City Council (CD1)

Twitter: @gigi_k_li

Thank you for the opportunity to seek the endorsement of the Grand Street Democrats.  Last week, we all took part in sending a clear message – we want a transition of leadership in the White House.  Building off that energy, we now shift our focus to local elections.  As all politics is local, the election in June will pave the way for how New York City will recover from COVID, restore the economy, and continue building on a progressive Citywide movement.   

As a third generation Lower Manhattan resident and a new mom – the future of our neighborhood is always on my mind.  I have spent my entire adult professional life advocating for change, working as a counselor/advocate for children and families impacted by domestic violence, organizing rallies at City Hall and in Albany to expand summer jobs for youth, and serving on the Mayor’s taskforce to expand the City’s afterschool system and design UPKNYC.   

Motivated to serve on the community level, I applied and was appointed to serve on Manhattan’s Community Board 3 in 2009, and was elected to serve as board chair from 2012-2016.  The ten years I spent on CB3 cemented the importance of government accessibility and accountability.  After all, it was my frustration with the government policies and bureaucracy that led me to become a social worker. 

My priorities include fighting for affordable housing and protecting existing affordable housing, preserving caregiving services in the challenging budgets ahead of us – for children and seniors, and economic recovery from COVID.  My commitment to serve the residents of LES remains steadfast, with a proven track record – leadership role in planning of Essex Crossing, fighting against NYCHA infill, navigating resiliency & recovery efforts, preserving childcare capacity and expanding SYEP capacity Citywide, and locally. 

Lower Manhattan deserves a candidate that can bring diverse coalitions together to achieve common goals, a candidate that will unify our neighborhoods.  I am committed to working hard for your support and fight for a community my family has been proud to call home – and for our future generations to have the opportunity to raise their families here. 

My extensive experience in both the nonprofit and government sectors, also serving as a chief of staff to a NYC Councilmember for the past two years has prepared me to fight for you starting on day 1.  I would be honored to have your support.     

Grand Street Dems asked each CD1 candidate to submit a statement ahead of our endorsement meeting on Sunday, November 15.

Jenny Low, candidate for City Council (CD1)

Twitter: @jennylamlow

Dear Members of Grand Street Democrats, 

I hope you are healthy and safe during these unprecedented times. Thank you for the opportunity to talk with  you and share my vision as a City Council Candidate for District 1 on Sunday, November 15. 

Please allow me to re-introduce myself. I am a life-long advocate for Lower Manhattan, serving as an elected  District Leader for the last twenty five years and a board member of a $190M+ nonprofit organization, while  keeping a professional private sector career for 29+ years. I’m ready to put my proven skills, passion for Lower Manhattanites, and knowledge to work and help District 1 and the City recover from the devastation caused by  COVID. 

I have spent my whole life helping Lower Manhattan, empowering women, immigrants and people of color, and fighting for our progressive values. 

  • I’ve been on the board of Eleanor’s Legacy for the last 10 years. We helped build a very progressive farm team of women and women of color in the state for elective office. 
  • As a District Leader for 25 years, I’ve been able to raise political awareness in our community and in doing so expanded our political voice and empowerment. 
  • As a board member of the Chinese-American Planning Council for 30 years, I’ve helped enable countless  immigrant and low-income families to become economically self-sufficient. 
  • I currently serve as the Director the Administrative Services Division at the New York City Council’s Office  of Speaker Corey Johnson where I oversee a team that manages the internal operations of the Council.  Before that, I was the Director of the Community Engagement Division, where I worked to engage New Yorkers through civic participation and enhance their connection with the Council. 

People have been asking me to run for years because of my proven track record and years of experience. And I’m  glad that Congresswomen Nydia Velazquez and Carolyn Maloney and NYS Senator John Liu have already endorsed  me. I have been thinking about running, but especially now amid the COVID pandemic, and seeing the devastation  across the district, I’m getting off the sidelines and ready to put my skills, experience, and passion to work, fighting  for an equitable recovery from this pandemic as the next Council Member in District 1. 

I am ready to put my decades of experience as a community leader and my skills in the private and public sectors  as our next Council Member to: 

  • Fight for working families 
  • Get small businesses the support they need 
  • Address our affordable housing crisis 
  • Demand real reforms at the NYPD 
  • Expand access to healthcare and support healthcare workers on the frontlines 
  • Improve the public schools that opened opportunities for me, and 
  • Help seniors and families with food insecurity 

2021 will bring huge turnover for the City Council. Our district needs a Council Member who doesn’t need any  training. With my demonstrated track record in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, I can hit the ground  running on day one as a Council Member representing the 1st District. 

Jenny Low

Grand Street Dems asked each CD1 candidate to submit a statement ahead of our endorsement meeting on Sunday, November 15.

Christopher Marte, candidate for City Council (CD1)

Twitter: @chrisMarteNYC

Christopher Marte has been on the frontlines of the major issues in Lower Manhattan for the past 5 years, especially when it comes to overdevelopment and displacement. He has worked with his community to stop the development of luxury towers, which could displace thousands of tenants and small businesses. He has built coalitions to stop the building of a new jail, and push for restorative justice reforms. He has worked with parents and students to prevent illegal and toxic contamination from dangerous construction sites. Since COVID started, Christopher has worked to create a network of donors and volunteers to distribute food and PPE to homebound seniors and low-income families and workers. The district has extreme wealth disparities, but Christopher has a track record of bringing communities together with a common purpose, and will continue that mission in the City Council.

Grand Street Dems asked each CD1 candidate to submit a statement ahead of our endorsement meeting on Sunday, November 15.