Manhattan Victories

Levine triumphs in the Borough President primary, Menin and Brewer on track to be part of history as women are set to make up the majority of City Council members for the first time

| 09 Jul 2021 | 07:05

New York City will see a massive turnover in local leadership come 2022, and with the primary results released this week, there’s a pretty clear picture as to who will be representing Manhattan at the borough president’s office and at City Council.

It was the first city election to be carried out with ranked-choice voting, which made for more competitive races and some narrow winning margins; though, as with the mayor’s race, all of the candidates who held leads after the polls closed on June 22 still came out on top once the Board of Elections released its ranked-choice tabulations that included the large batch of absentee ballots.

The victors – though still pending official certification from the BOE – all must still prevail in November’s general election, but with registered Democratic voters far outnumbering Republicans in the city (especially in Manhattan), all those who earned the Democratic party’s nomination are expected to take office next year.

In the borough president’s race, the margin between current Upper Manhattan Council Member Mark Levine and state Sen. Brad Hoylman on primary night was razor thin. Both candidates were propelled to the top of the seven-person field through robust ground and digital campaigns, and in the several weeks leading to the primary, it was clear it had become a two-candidate race. But after absentee ballots and ranked-choice votes were factored in, Levine pulled away with a comfortable-enough victory, finishing with nearly 14,000 votes more than Hoylman.

“The absentee ballots have now been counted and ...WE DID IT!,” Levine wrote in a tweet reacting to the BOE results. “I am so grateful to the countless volunteers and supporters who made this possible. Thank you Manhattan! I will put my heart and soul into fighting for our comeback.”

Hoylman, though, saw the writing on the wall two days prior.

“At this point, it seems we’ve come up short in my election for Manhattan borough president. But we ran a campaign to be proud of,” Hoylman said in a statement, conceding the race. “I look forward to working with Mark in the future and also my fellow candidates in this race, who I commend along with everyone who stuck their neck out to run for public office during this tumultuous election cycle.”

Notably, Upper East Side Council Member Ben Kallos came in a distant fourth with 16 percent of the vote. Longtime Community Board 7 member and former chair Elizabeth Caputo finished in third, ultimately earning 41,896 votes.

The chair of the Council’s Health Committee, Levine rose to prominence during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic as he offered calm guidance on the latest science, testing information, and best practices to reduce transmission of the virus. If elected in November, Levine will have big shoes to fill in succeeding Gale Brewer as Manhattan’s next borough president.


In District 1, which covers much of Downtown, Christopher Marte took down two candidates with establishment backing in Gigi Li (sitting CD1 Member Margaret Chin’s chief of staff) and Jenny Low (who worked in Speaker Corey Johnson’s office) in the primary race, winning by a 4,699-vote margin. Low in particular had consolidated a lot of support from elected officials, including Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, and was expected to take over the seat. But Marte capitalized on the coalition he created in 2017 when he challenged Chin and came just 222 votes short of unseating her – this time around, that coalition delivered Marte a big victory. He beat out Low in the final round of ranked-choice tabulations 60.5 percent to 39.5 percent.

In District 3, which encompasses Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and Greenwich Village, Erik Bottcher declared victory on primary night, which was confirmed by the latest results. Bottcher had long been the favorite to win the district, having worked in New York State government and as Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s chief of staff. He ended up beating his nearest competitor, attorney Arthur Schwartz, by more than 10,000 voters. Bottcher, who made mental health and small business recovery a focal point of his campaign, ended up with 16,793 votes, or 71.5 percent of the overall vote.

In District 5, though the race tightened slightly over the rounds of ranked-choice tabulation, no candidate could overcome Julie Menin’s lead in the race she established on primary night. Her supporters often cited Menin’s long and vast tenure in city government as the clear reason why she should succeed Ben Kallos in serving the Upper East Side – but neighborhood electeds chose to back Tricia Shimamura, whose former boss is Rep. Carolyn Maloney. It was shaping up to be a competitive race, but the result was not as close as many anticipated. Shimamura trailed the former three-time city commissioner by 2,591 votes in the final round – making Menin the likely next Council member in District 5.

Menin is on track to be a part of history as women are set to make up the majority of the Council members for the first time ever, with at least 28 women expected to be a part of the incoming class.

Another woman who will be a part of this historic Council class is outgoing Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who took back her former seat in District 6 in a landslide victory. Her primary was one of the few races that was called on Election Night, with Brewer winning an outright majority of the first-choice votes. Of her five opponents, no one came close to challenger Brewer, who received 21363 votes to her closest competitor’s 5741 votes. Brewer served as the Upper West Side’s Council member 12 years, from 2002 through 2013, before stepping into the borough president’s office in 2014.

In District 7, the coalition of five candidates who teamed up to prevent frontrunner Shaun Abreu from winning the primary race were not successful in their scheme. Abreu, who was endorsed by current CD7 Member Mark Levine, earned 10420 votes (63.1%) after 13 rounds or ranked-choice tabulation. District 7 was one of the most crowded fields in Manhattan, with 12 candidates in all. Five of those candidates – Marti Allen-Cummings, Corey Ortega, Dan Cohen, Stacy Lynch and Maria Ordonez – attempted to block Abreu’s path to victory by cross-endorsing one another and encouraging their respective supporters to rank within their coalition. It didn’t quite pan out as they’d hoped.

Abreu’s closest competitor, Ordonez, was not close to eclipsing Abreu’s lead, as she fell short with 6088 votes or 36.9 percent of the vote.

The general election is set for Nov. 2.