Primary elections in New York City are just two weeks away. I’m excited to share an update on the state of my race for Democratic District Leader and the plans that Community Free Democrats and I have for the rest of the 2017 election cycle and the year ahead.
First things first: after an energetic five weeks of petitioning early in the summer, our team collected over 1,500 signatures — three times the number required — to qualify me and my co-leader, Joan Paylo, for the ballot. Just as significantly, no other candidate qualified in our race, so we are running uncontested and will be elected automatically in the September primary. It’s not the most glamorous way to win, but I’m proud of the work we’ve already done, and we’re in a strong position to begin the work of organizing on behalf of progressive causes and other Democrats in and around New York City.
Running uncontested is not to be taken for granted, especially in this era of heightened political participation. Three districts directly around mine — in West Harlem, the Upper East Side, and Hell’s Kitchen — have contested races for Democratic District Leader this year; another District Leader from CFD nearly did, too. I am continuing to fundraise through September 12 to cover costs associated with introducing myself to residents of my district, keeping in mind that funds not spent will roll over to future elections. Thank you again to those who have already contributed!
Meanwhile, I am working hard to organize CFD’s efforts for Mark Levine, City Councilmember from Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights, in his primary campaign. Mark, whom I greatly admire, has been a champion for tenants’ rights, and is a contender to be the next Speaker of the City Council. He is very likely to win re-election, but is facing an unwelcome challenge from a perennial agitator who uses intentionally anti-Semitic rhetoric. We are determined to send a strong signal that we support the incumbent and reject those hateful ideas.
We are also making plans to send a bus of volunteers to a town in Long Island that has a competitive town election this year, and is in the heart of a highly flippable GOP-held congressional district. By starting now and keeping the 2018 general election in our sights, we hope to work with the local Democratic party there and support them in expanding their organizing infrastructure. This kind of local rebuilding, in New York and across the country, will be essential if Democrats are to win a majority in Congress next year and in state legislatures over the next three years.
In an already chaotic year, recent weeks have been especially tumultuous. The show of white supremacism in Charlottesville reminds us that insofar as America values diversity and protects minorities — still work in progress, to be sure — activists fought hard to get where we are. The far more numerous counterprotests across the country are an encouraging sign that America can and will keep moving forward.
Just this week, flooding in Texas demonstrates what I fear is another consequence of our too little, too late approach to mitigating climate change. Yet in the face of disaster we also see the best in people. I recently read a book, A Paradise Built in Hell, which documents this phenomenon over decades: despite incredible material loss, survivors relish the experience “Not of bravery, nor of strength, nor of a new city, but of a new inclusiveness.”
Originally distributed on August 30, 2017.
- This year I’m running for Democratic District Leader on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Please contribute to my campaign here.
- Community Free Democrats is an official Democratic club on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Find us online, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
- My election is the Democratic Primary in New York on September 12, 2017. Eligible voters are registered Democrats in Part B of the 69th Assembly District. See an interactive map of the AD here.