Reynoso, Cornegy, Simon lead crowded field of borough president candidates on Election Night

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(From left) Borough president candidates Antonio Reynoso, Robert Cornegy and Jo Anne Simon.
Contributed photos

Brooklyn voters used ranked-choice voting to pick between nearly a dozen Democratic candidates running for borough president in the primary election on Tuesday, June 22, with three candidates vying for the top spot in the hotly contested race.

As of 11:30 pm Tuesday, Antonio Reynoso held a sizable lead over fellow term-limited Councilmember Robert Cornegy, with Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon in third place, with more than 88 percent of precincts reported, according to unofficial results from the city’s Board of Elections.

Reynoso secured 28.49 percent of the vote (47,748 votes), with Cornegy and Simon neck and neck behind him at 18.92 percent (31,700 votes) and 18.61 percent (31,190 votes) of the vote, respectively.

Only preliminary unofficial results, including ballots cast during the early voting period and on Election Day, will be available from the Board of Elections Tuesday night. Absentee ballots will not be a part of the initial tally, and finalized results aren’t expected in races like this one until at least July 12.

At a crowded Election Night party at Williamsburg’s Carneval, Reynoso said he feels good “no matter what happens.”

“I feel like the people that are behind me did an amazing job … I really feel like we did everything we needed to do to spread our message about how we can build a Brooklyn for all of us,” Reynoso told Brooklyn Paper at the Grand Street bar. “I’m just really happy, really grateful and I hope, when it’s all said and done, I can be the next borough president.”

Reynoso currently represents the 34th City Council District, which includes parts of Williamsburg and Bushwick. But, when asked about his campaign — which focused on economic recovery, affordable housing and climate change, among other hot button issues — and why he thinks it’s resonated with voters, the candidate said it’s about time leaders start “pushing for radical change,” and dealing in equity across all neighborhoods.

“I want to build equity into our system, I don’t want that the only places that get resources and help are the places that have more political capital,” he said. “I want to go to the places like East New York, Brownsville, and Coney Island, and let them know that regardless of the poverty rate that someone’s going to show up for them, all the time, and I don’t care whether you have 40,000 votes in a district or 4,000 votes in a district — I’m going to go to where the people need me.”

Not far from Carneval, Cornegy and his camp were awaiting what unofficial primary election results would come in at The Brooklyn Bank on Dekalb Avenue. There, the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights Council member thanked supporters for a race well run.

“I heard a lot of people talk about these ‘people-led campaigns.’ There’s no bigger people-led campaign that what ours was, and there was no campaign that united the borough like we did,” said Cornegy, a 6’10” former basketball player who was once recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest politician.

On Tuesday night, the borough presidential hopeful whose campaign prioritized economic recovery post-pandemic, small business development and police reform, invoked faith and God while thinking ahead to the final counts.

“As we look at the numbers, and ours increase, and we ask God to increase those numbers,” he told a crowd of close to 30 at The Brooklyn Bank, a Black-owned event space in his district. “Tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day we’ll be celebrating victory, but tonight we celebrate all of you and your commitment to this campaign.”

The winner of the Democratic primary in June will presumably sweep the general election in November and land in Borough Hall in January 2022. The post has been held by mayoral frontrunner Eric Adams since 2014. 

The next borough president will be tasked proposing legislation, approving zoning changes, making citywide budget recommendations, and directing for land use. Borough presidents appoint members to the New York City Planning Commission, and members to other local boards.

Candidates also on the ballot Tuesday included another outgoing councilmember, Mathieu Eugene, and community leaders Kimberly Council, Khari Edwards, Robert Elstein, Pearlene Fields, Anthony Jones, Lamor Miller-Whitehead, Trisha Ocona, and Robert Ramos Jr.

Per the new voting system, if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes, they win; but if no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes, then the votes will be tallied in rounds.

At the end of each round, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated. If the eliminated candidate had been the first choice on a ballot, the vote then transfers to whoever was the second choice on the ballot.

The process continues until there are two candidates left. The candidate with the most votes is the winner.

Simon’s campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment.