Newcomer Chris Banks predicted to unseat legacy Council Member Charles Barron in Dem primary

charles barron speaking primary
Longtime Councilmember Charles Barron is predicted to have lost his District 42 council seat.
Photo courtesy of William Alatriste/NYC Council Media Unit

Primary election results for New York City Council seats indicate longtime public servant and incumbent Council Member Charles Barron has lost to challenger Chris Banks in District 42. 

Barron, a former member of the Black Panther Party and civil rights activist who represented District 42 in East New York for over 20 years, was defeated by community activist Banks, who received nearly 51% of the vote with 99% of scanners reporting as of Wednesday afternoon, according to unofficial election results. Barron trailed behind with 43% of the vote.

Banks, a registered Democrat and co-founder of East New York United Concerned Citizens Inc., was endorsed by the NYC Carpenters Union and the United Federation of Teachers. 

The two participated in a debate hosted by Schneps Media on June 14, where they both discussed issues of education, housing and public transportation impacting the constituents of District 42, which includes parts of East New York, New Lots, Remsen Village, Spring Creek, and Starrett City.

Reacting to his predicted win, Banks said that the constituents of District 42 had voted to hold Barron accountable for his neglect of this district.

“This was — to me — a referendum on Charles’ last 20 years in the district,” Banks told Brooklyn Paper on Wednesday. “The people spoke, they came on and they said that they wanted change. Charles took his eye off the district and the people came on and they said ‘Listen, we want to go in a different direction’.”

chris banks city council primary
Banks, an activist and longtime East New York resident, said his victory was a “referendum” on Barron’s tenure. Photo courtesy of Chris Banks/Facebook

Responding to the results of the election, Barron said that his “excitement is high about all the future possibilities” and that he was proud of all his administration’s accomplishments.

“I’m feeling great about our accomplishments over the 22 years that we were in office in East New York,” Barron told Brooklyn Paper on Thursday. “No elected official in the history of our community has brought in three new schools – $88 million – $70 million worth of renovated parks 20,000 units of affordable housing… I could go on and on.”

Barron also spoke to the comparatively low voter turn-out in this election, compared to past elections he’s won.

“I’m not saying that’s the reason why we lost, I’m saying that this is not a mandate to leave when [Banks] only got 3,000 votes and put hundreds of thousands of dollars into all those unions and you are only able to muster up 3,000 votes when in the past we’ve gotten 8,000. It’s just no mandate to leave.”

Barron himself received 2,574 votes.

Banks and Barron previously faced off during the election for state Assembly in 2014, with Barron ultimately winning and serving until the end of the 2021 session. 

Barron in the past has faced criticism for vocalizing unpopular or unconventional opinions. 

In September of 2002, the pol invited then-president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe to City Hall, even as many lawmakers boycotted the appearance after Amnesty International accused Mugabe of crimes against his citizens. Barron at the time called Mugabe a “dynamic, bold African man willing to stand up to the world for his people.”

In 2011, Barron doubled down on his support of Mugabe saying “Robert Mugabe is my hero, and guess what, so is Muammar Qaddafi!” which prompted much criticism, including from members of the Jewish community.

As news of Banks’ victory spread, New Yorkers took to social media to chime in on the newcomers’ predicted voting results.

“I personally know Chris Banks and consider him a friend,” one Twitter user said on Wednesday. “He won the city council seat in the 42nd district, and Chris is a really good guy. He will bring well needed change to east NY Brooklyn. Charles [Barron] has lost touch with reality and let his district fall apart.”

Other users expressed their surprise for Barron’s unpredictable unseat.

“I’m glad Barron’s gone,” said another Twitter user. Hopefully for good. He was continually voted back to one office or another despite his district on a state of permanent decline. I don’t know much about Chris Banks but hope he can bring more academic & economic improvement to his district & NYC.”

Banks spoke to his own excitement of representing the constituents of District 42.

“There’s obviously a lot of work to be done and we are looking forward to serving and representing the people of the 42nd council district and being a voice for the voiceless and fighting for the community,” Banks said.

Last updated 6/28/2023 11:53 a.m.