It wasn’t just the mayor’s slot that was up for grabs on Tuesday’s ballot: The mini-mayors were also in play.
Four of the city’s current borough presidents are term-limited, leaving their seats open. The fifth, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who took office after winning a special election last year, is seeking a full term.
While the city Board of Elections on Tuesday night revealed which candidates notched the most first-place votes via the new ranked choice voting system, winners of many primaries likely won’t be finalized until mid-July. That’s primarily because all absentee ballots must be received before a full ranked-choice count can be performed.
As of early Wednesday, almost all of the borough president races across the city were still neck and neck.
Borough presidents are largely known as cheerleaders for their respective boroughs. Each year, they are given millions to distribute for projects like school repairs, park fixes, and support for select nonprofits.
They also have the power to introduce bills in the City Council and issue advisory votes and written decisions on proposed major development projects in their territory. Their opinion is not binding, but it can influence final decisions of the City Council or the mayor.
Here’s how the races are shaping up, based on the initial first-place vote results released beginning after polls closed Tuesday:
Reynoso Ahead in Brooklyn
Councilmember Antonio Reynoso scored the most first place-votes in the race to replace mayoral candidate Eric Adams, though with 12 Democrats running, no one emerged as an official winner.
Reynoso got about 29% of first-place votes, while Council member Robert Cornegy and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon both had nearly 19% of the votes each, according to the BOE tally early Wednesday.
The highly-competitive race took a strange turn the night before Primary Day with Cornegy sending an email touting an endorsement from Adams.
But Adams, who had previously said he wasn’t going to publicly back a candidate in the race, called the announcement “false” and urged his supporters to “rank candidates … according to their personal preference.”
Cornegy later said the press release was “mistakenly sent out” by a campaign staffer who was “immediately reprimanded,” he tweeted.
Levine Leading in Manhattan
City Councilmember Mark Levine and state Senator Brad Hoylman were battling for the lead in the seven-Democrat race to replace Borough President Gale Brewer, who is running for her old City Council seat.
Levine notched about 29% of the first-place votes, while Hoylman nabbed approximately 26%, the BOE reported with nearly 85% of the vote in. Councilmember Ben Kallos was in third with about 12% of the top-choice ballots.
On Tuesday afternoon, Levine had urged patience from all the candidates in the race while doing last-minute campaigning at P.S. 163 on the Upper West Side.
“Because of the outstanding mail-in ballots and because of the delay on ranked-choice counting, we’re all going to have to be a little bit cautious about how we read the results,” he said.
Two Competitive Races on Staten Island
On Staten Island, Ex-Rep. Vito Fossella, powered by a late endorsement and robocalls from former President Donald Trump, was narrowly leading his closest opponents for the GOP nomination. Fossella had about 42% of the initial first-place votes, compared to approximately 41% for Councilmember Steven Matteo and close to 14% for former GOP chair Leticia Remauro, according to the BOE’s early results, which took into account about two-thirds of votes.
Fossella only entered the borough president’s race in March and ran an unusually low-key campaign after more than a decade largely outside of the public spotlight. His campaign reported spending only $113 so far, aside from in-kind contributions.
The winner of the November election would replace term-limited Borough President James Oddo, a Republican and former boss of Matteo, who gained the Staten Island GOP’s endorsement.
Meanwhile, Democratic elected officials’ united support for Mark Murphy appears to have paid off as the son of ex-Staten Island Congressman John Murphy was leading in the party’s most competitive primary in two decades.
In a five-person race, Murphy had notched 47% of initial first-place votes, compared to 21% for activist Lorie Honor, his closest competitor, according to early results.
Gibson Up in The Bronx
In The Bronx, Democratic Councilmember Vanessa Gibson had a modest lead over her Council colleague Fernando Cabrera, according to early BOE results.
In another five-candidate race, Gibson had about 40% of initial first-place votes, compared to 34% for Cabrera, with about 83% of the vote in.
The vibes are immaculate at @Vanessalgibson’s watch party in Parkchester tonight — still very far from declaring victory, but she’s ahead in the Bronx BP race with 39% of the first-choice votes so far. Says she will wait until “every vote is counted and every Bronxite is heard.” pic.twitter.com/BtElfd6OTL— claudia irizarry aponte (@clauirizarry) June 23, 2021
State Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, who was endorsed by mayoral candidate Maya Wiley, garnered about 14% of Tuesday’s first-place votes. State Senator Luis Sepulveda received 10%, while retired police lieutenant Sammy Ravelo received close to 2%.
The winner of the Democratic primary would almost certainly replace term-limited Borough President Ruben Diaz Sr.
Richards Fighting in Queens
In Queens, former Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley was giving current Borough President Donovan Richards a run for his money in the race to hold the seat he just won in a special election last year.
Richards had about 42% of the first-place votes on Tuesday compared to Crowley’s 40%, BOE preliminary results representing about 81% of the vote show. The only other challenger, Jimmy Van Bramer, garnered around 18%.
While about 2,000 votes separating the top two candidates, some 24,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted in the borough, according to the BOE.
In statements to THE CITY, both Richards’ and Crowley’s campaign said they expected to win.
Most observers had expected the contest to be fairly easy for Richards, who last December became the first Black man to hold the position after succeeding Melinda Katz, who is now Queens district attorney.