Democratic socialist Marcela Mitaynes defeats 26-year incumbent in Sunset Park Assembly primary

Marcela Mitaynes
Marcela Mitaynes, a Demoratic Socialist, has won the Democratic primary for the District 51 Assembly seat, unseating the 26-year incumbent.
Marcela Mitaynes

Democratic socialist Marcela Mitaynes won the primary for District 51’s state Assembly seat on July 16 after raking in more absentee votes than 26-year incumbent Félix Ortiz — making her the presumptive assemblywoman elect of the majority-Democrat district. 

Ortiz, who has represented the district that covers Red Hook, Sunset Park, and a sliver of Bay Ridge since 1994, conceded to Mitaynes in a Facebook post

“The votes have been tallied and the people of the 51st district have elected Marcela Mitaynes to represent them in the New York State Assembly,” wrote Ortiz at 1:45 pm. “I congratulate her and wish her the best going forward.”

The votes have been tallied and the people of the 51st district have elected Marcela Mitaynes to represent them in the…

Posted by Felix W. Ortiz on Thursday, July 16, 2020

Mitaynes, a tenant organizer and Sunset Park community activist, lost to Ortiz by seven points on election night, garnering 464 fewer in-person votes than the front-runner.

However, she quickly established a lead in the absentee ballot count, bringing in nearly twice as many votes as Ortiz by July 15, one day after the Board of Elections began processing absentee ballots for the race. 

According to Mitaynes’ campaign, Mitaynes ended up defeating Ortiz by 24o votes, winning 3,550 votes compared to Ortiz’s 3,310. The race’s two other candidates, Katherine Walsh and Genesis Aquino, won 2,430 votes and 926 votes respectively. 

Mitaynes, who received endorsements from the Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party, has put housing reform at the top of her agenda.

“Housing is my main issue,” she told Brooklyn Paper in March. “I’m seeing people who’ve been living here for 40, 50 years on fixed income being displaced.” 

Mitaynes blamed corporate landlords for the the increased displacement of Sunset Park’s low-income, immigrant community, and championed bills, such as the “good cause” eviction bill, that bolster tenants’ rights. Mitaynes, who moved to Sunset Park from Peru when she was five, has faced eviction herself, she said. 

Mitaynes also supports bills that restrict the power of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in New York, has advocated for the release of many prisoners in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, and opposes the Industry City rezoning on the Sunset Park waterfront, according to her website

Mitaynes may face third party opposition in the November 3 primary, although no opponents have announced their candidacy yet.

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.