On June 22, Brooklynites selected a new crop of candidates to represent them in the City Council, but most are waiting on ranked-choice voting tabulation before they can claim victory.
Still, in a handful of races, candidates walked away with more than 50 percent of the vote on Election Night, meaning there are no further ranked-choice voting rounds necessary. That all but guarantees a clear path to the Democratic nomination (and for those without a Republican challenger come November, the seat).
In some races, there are candidates with large leads, but not enough to forgo RCV.
And in others, it’s still anyone’s race.
Though, things are still unpredictable — even in races where one candidate has a sizable lead, and especially in low-turnout local races. Last year, several state legislative races saw results flip from what they were on Election Night after counting absentee ballots. (Take Assemblymember Emily Gallagher for example, who managed to overcome a 15 point Election Night deficit to eventually beat 47-year incumbent Joe Lentol.)
Here’s what we know about the races thus far:
First-round picks, where no RCV rounds are needed
In Council District 34, candidate Jennifer Gutiérrez crushed the competition, coming out of Election Night with nearly 80 percent of the votes (which broke down to 11,683 votes with 96 percent of precincts reporting, according to the city Board of Elections). The activist and chief of staff to the incumbent, Antonio Reynoso, campaigned on “community-based solutions,” vowing to expand participatory budgeting and view issues through a “feminist lens.”
On Twitter, Gutiérrez vowed to make the district — which covers the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Bushwick, and crosses the Queens border into Ridgewood — proud.
“I’m so honored,” she said. “I’ll make you proud.”
Meanwhile, activist Bushwick Council candidate Sandy Nurse snagged over 51 percent of the vote (4,905 votes with nearly 97 percent of precincts reporting) in the race to represent District 37, trouncing Kings County Democratic Party-backed incumbent Darma Diaz, who walked away with just 24 percent of the vote (2,286) after taking the seat in a special election rife with controversy and confusion.
The daughter of an immigrant and single mother, Nurse said her upbringing prepared her to fight with and for the district’s working-class community, spanning Bushwick, East New York, Cypress Hills, Ocean Hill, and Brownsville.
Though hesitant to declare victory, Nurse said she felt “confident” in Tuesday’s results.
“This is a victory for our movements, and for the people who have worked for years in our district for real leadership,” she said in a statement. “There is a clear momentum for the left and progressive movements. Together, we are ushering in representatives who will bring our values and goals into local government.”
In District 41, where incumbent Alicka Ampry-Samuel and her three-term predecessor Darlene Mealy were fighting to represent parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill-Brownsville, East Flatbush, and Crown Heights, dark horse Mealy secured more than 57 percent of the vote against Ampry-Samuel.
Mealy previously represented the district from 2006 to 2017, at which point Ampry-Samuel was elected. As she fought to regain her old seat, Mealy prioritized issues like economic development, education, and public safety, with an emphasis on protecting women.
In District 45, which includes East Flatbush and parts of Flatbush, Midwood, Flatlands, and Kensington, incumbent Farah Louis handily beat back two challengers, Anthony Beckford and Cyril Joseph, winning 75.57 percent of the vote with 98 percent of precincts reporting.
Louis was first elected in 2019 to replace Jumaane Williams, who’d left his seat upon being elected Public Advocate.
Substantial leads going into RCV
In District 33, encompassing Greenpoint, Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, and part of Williamsburg, Lincoln Restler is running well above all of his opponents, nabbing 48.22 percent of the vote with 96.62 percent of precincts reporting, just short of a majority needed to forego RCV rounds.
Restler, a district leader, former aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and co-founder of New Kings Democrats, and a longtime fixture of local politics in the district, has more than double the votes of his closest competitor, Elizabeth Adams, a former aide to current CD33 Councilmember Steve Levin.
In District 38, including Sunset Park, Red Hook, and parts of Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, and Dyker Heights, DSA-endorsed Alexa Avilés has 43.46 percent of votes with 96.08 percent of precincts reporting, 25 points ahead of her closest competitor, businessman Yu Lin.
In an unexpected turn of events, former Council contender and nurse Mercedes Narcisse is running well ahead of her opponents in District 46, which includes Canarsie, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Gerritsen Beach, and parts of Flatlands and Sheepshead Bay. Narcisse has 35.78 percent with over 98 percent reporting, about 20 points ahead of competitors Shirley Paul, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and to Frank Seddio, and former Community Board 18 chair Gardy Brazela.
Sizable, but not insurmountable, leads
In the 36th District, including Bed-Stuy and northern Crown Heights, 23-year-old Chi Ossé has a 15 point lead over his nearest competitors in the race to replace term-limited Robert Cornegy. Ossé has 37.23 percent with 94.85 percent of precincts reporting. District Leader Henry Butler and ex-de Blasio aide Tahirah Moore are running neck-and-neck for second place, with 22.86 and 22.85 percent, respectively.
Ossé, a Black Lives Matter organizer, said he was confident the RCV process would push his campaign over the line.
“With nearly all ballot scanners reporting, we hold a strong double-digit lead over every other candidate in the race and we are extremely confident that the Ranked Choice Voting process will push us over 50% once all votes have been counted,” he said.
In District 39, which was expected to be a neck-and-neck race, Shahana Hanif, a former aide to current Councilmember Brad Lander, is doing better than expected, leading DSA-backed Brandon West by 10 points, 33.42 to 22.52 percent, with 99 percent of scanners counted. The district includes Park Slope, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Windsor Terrace, and parts of Borough Park and Kensington. Trailing behind are Justin Krebs at 16.03 percent and Doug Schneider at 13.6.
“We are thrilled and honored by the first-round results that show us in the lead with the most number 1 votes in our district,” said Hanif, who, if elected, would be the first South Asian and first Muslim woman on the Council. “While we won’t know the final numbers for a week or so, we are deeply proud of the multiracial, multilingual, intergenerational, and joyful coalition we built that embodies our beautiful and diverse district.”
The Barron dynasty will most likely continue to rule East New York’s District 42, with former Councilmember Charles Barron leading the pack to replace his wife, Inez, at 47.38 percent with 99 percent reporting. Challenger Nikki Lucas has 36.77 percent. The Barrons have taken turns representing the area in both the City Council and the Assembly, with at least one of them representing the area since 2001, though some forecasters pondered whether the dynasty was vulnerable this year.
Ari Kagan is leading the pack to replace his boss Mark Treyger, who has supported him enthusiastically in District 47, which includes Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Sea Gate. He has 42.65 percent of the vote with 96.06 percent reporting, trailed by activist Steven Patzer at 33.9 percent. The winner will take on Republican nominee Mark Szuszkiewicz, who nearly unexpectedly won the area’s Assembly seat last year.
“While we must wait for additional ballots to be counted, we are optimistic about the outcome,” Kagan said in a statement. “In the meantime we have a lot of work to do to improve the quality of life for southern Brooklyn’s families.”
Still up in the air
One of the most competitive and watched Council races this year was District 35, currently held by Laurie Cumbo, which encompasses Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, and parts of Crown Heights and Bed Stuy.
After Election Night, former Cumbo aide Crystal Hudson narrowly leads DSA-backed Michael Hollingsworth, 38.49 to 34.45 percent, respectively, with 98.8 percent reporting. Cumbo has garnered a reputation as a foe of the activist left, but the area is now represented in Albany by two Democratic Socialists, state Sen. Jabari Brisport and Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest, making the district a top target for DSA and other leftist organizations.
“The initial votes are in, and while we wait for the full ranked choice voting process to be carried out, we feel good about our victory in this race,” said Hudson, who, if elected, would make history as the first openly gay Black woman on the Council.
The race to replace Mathieu Eugene, the Council’s longest-serving member, in District 40 is also very tight.
With 99 percent reporting, educator Rita Joseph has the edge with 25.23 percent of the vote, but is followed closely by District Leader Josh Pierre, at 20.31 percent, and Kenya Handy-Hilliard, a political staffer who has worked at the local, state, and federal level, at 19.19 percent. How the race in the district, which includes Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, Ditmas Park, and Kensington, will pan out in RCV rounds is anyone’s guess.
“While we still have more votes to count, I am encouraged by our current position and am so grateful to everyone across District 40 who supported me in this campaign,” Joseph said on Twitter.
And finally, in the currently memberless District 48, which includes Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, and part of Midwood, local activist and former Republican candidate Steven Saperstein is narrowly leading the race at 31.15 percent, just ahead of former de Blasio aide Mariya Markh at 28.46 percent, with 96.72 percent reporting. The district was formerly represented by Chaim Deutsch until his expulsion from the Council stemming from a tax fraud conviction.
“It is an honor to be in the lead after the first round of ballot counting,” Saperstein said in a statement. “I am simply grateful for all the amazing people of this district who’ve supported our campaign. Looking forward to seeing the absentees and ranked choice voting process working out in our favor and then optimistically transitioning to the general election. This has been an incredible time.”