Cuomo postpones Bushwick Council race to June 23 due to coronavirus

Governor Andrew Cuomo has postponed the special election for Rafael Espinal’s vacated Council seat to June 23.
Photo by Darren McGee. Courtesy of Governor Cuomo’s office

Governor Andrew Cuomo has postponed the April 28 special election to replace former Bushwick councilman Rafael Espinal’s seat to June 23 to avoid further spread of the coronavirus.

The state’s commander-in-chief issued an executive order on March 28 moving all elections happening on April 28 to the summer date in order to align with the regular state and federal primary elections and prevent people from gathering during the ongoing pandemic. That also includes a handful of special elections for federal and state seats as well as the presidential primary.

“We are continuing to advance emergency measures that reduce density as much as possible, and to that end we are going to delay the presidential primary election until June because it’s not wise to be bringing large numbers of people to one place to vote,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The governor updated his decree on Monday, adding that only candidates who were already eligible to appear on the ballot for April 28 would still be on the June 23 vote. He also rescheduled the borough president race in Queens, which was supposed to happen on March 24, to the June date.

The move followed calls from upstart candidate for the seat Sandy Nurse, who on March 20 tweeted her support of moving the election to June, saying that Bushwick residents were more concerned about their health and financial stability during this unprecedented crisis.

Her opponent, local district leader Darma Diaz, said it was up to Cuomo or Mayor Bill de Blasio, but noted that having the election sooner would allow someone to take the reigns and better manage the district during a time of crisis.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson has overseen the district ever since Espinal stepped down suddenly in January to take a job heading the Freelancers Union.

“This is the right move,” Nurse tweeted. “Democracy can and will take place, but not at the cost of putting lives at risk. Glad to see this happened.”