Insurgent Brooklyn district leader candidates gain tentative leads in Tuesday primary

District Leader races
Samy Nemir-Olivares (left) and Julio Peña scored comfortable leads for local district leader races among in-person voters on June 23.
Ramon Pebenito/Rob Thomas

While hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots have yet to be counted across the Five Boroughs, a handful of young, left-wing, and reform-minded candidates gained comfortable leads from in-person voters during Tuesday’s elections for district leader — a unpaid low-level elected position with one male and female representative for each assembly district who serve as the governing body of the county’s Democratic party.

Bushwick activist and self-described socialist Samy Nemir-Olivares gained 62.3 percent of the vote with 5,213 votes, surpassing politically-connected incumbent Tommy Torres with 36.8 percent and 3,076 votes, according to figures by the city’s Board of Elections.

Torres took over the position from the late Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez in 2013 following Lopez’s retirement, which came after a state ethics panel found the disgraced politico guilty of sexually harassing his young female interns.

Nemir-Olivares celebrated with local state Senator Julia Salazar, saying that northern Brooklyn came out in support of two young socialists, dealing a blow to the Democratic party establishment.

“And North #Brooklyn did it again,” Nemir-Olivares said in a tweet Wednesday morning. “It elected two 29-year-old socialists represent the community -one Latinx woman and one Latinx queer… The times of conservative machine politics is over.”

In Sunset Park, community activist Julio Peña snagged three-quarters of the vote against Robert Berrios, a party-endorsed candidate and Red Hook civic leader, who recently garnered criticism for sharing personal information of Black Lives Matter protesters with the police, Gothamist reported.

Jesse Pierce, a Boerum Hill resident and a former leader of the reform-oriented Democratic club New Kings Democrats, ended Tuesday with a narrow lead of 52.2 percent and 5,382 votes over Gowanus housing and environmental activist Rachel Stein, who got 47.36 percent and 4,881 votes.

Fort Greene public housing resident Shaquana Boykin held a narrow plurality of 37.8 percent and 5,050 votes, taking a lead over incumbent Olanike Alabi who went into Wednesday with 35.3 percent and 4717 votes. Beverly Newsome, the president of the tenants organization of the privately-owned Ebbets Field Apartments complex, ended Primary Day close behind with 26.4 percent and 3,529 votes.

In Greenpoint, 35-year-incumbent Linda Minucci gained 55.6 percent and 5,324 votes, withstanding a challenge from Kristina Naplatarski, a staffer for Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who got 43.7 percent at 4,186 votes.

These results remain preliminary as election officials have yet to count a mass of mail-in ballots. The New York Post reported that more than 700,000 Democrats alone requested absentee ballots for the June 23 election. According to Board of Election Data, fewer than 2 percent of the 200,000-plus ballots distributed to Democrats had been returned as of Tuesday.