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Perkins Loses Harlem Council Primary Recount by 114 Votes to Democratic Socialist

SHARE Perkins Loses Harlem Council Primary Recount by 114 Votes to Democratic Socialist

Councilmember Bill Perkins and new Democratic nominee Kristin Richardson Jordan.

Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY, Kristin Richardson Jordan NY City Council 9/Twitter

The New York City 2021 primary is finally officially over and Harlem has a new Democratic nominee for its City Council seat.

In a major leadership shakeup for the area, Democratic Socialist and first-time political candidate Kristin Richardson Jordan has clinched her win over incumbent Bill Perkins, a New York politics veteran.

The close race had gone to a manual recount by the Board of Elections on July 26, and took nearly a month to complete. It was the last outstanding race to be certified from the city’s first ever ranked-choice primary on June 22. 

The race results were made official Tuesday afternoon by the city Board of Elections. 

Jordan, who was endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political action committee,  secured 9,034 votes — just 114 votes over Perkins, who was vying for another term while suffering from apparent memory loss.

Shortly after the Board of Elections commissioners voted to certify the election, Jordan released a statement celebrating her win as a victory for the Harlem community.

She also noted that the campaign was led by Black and brown women — and that she would be one of the first queer Black women to head to the City Council. 

“We made history and disrupted the election with radical love,” she said, noting that the win came without the assistance of political veterans and campaign consultants. 

“I want to make clear that this campaign was never about me, it was about us as a community. It was a campaign by the people of Harlem for the people of Harlem. We won. Harlem won. We, the community, did this.”

A Late Comeback

The Harlem primary tally was the last to be completed from the June primaries, in which New Yorkers for the first time used ranked choice voting to choose candidates.

Jordan ultimately won thanks to ranked choice: Hers was just one of three races in New York in which a candidate who lost with first-place votes later took the lead when second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place preferences were tallied.

Perkins originally took first place in the first round, but Jordan pulled ahead by Round 13, said her election attorney Sarah Steiner. Before the recount, Jordan had led by 104 votes. 

The results spell big changes for Central Harlem. Perkins has led the neighborhood as both a Council member and a state senator for more than 20 years. His popularity translated to a near-win in the crowded 13-person race — even though he hardly campaigned, City and State reported before the primary.

Perkins, in a statement conceding the race last week, thanked the district’s voters for their “support and confidence in me over the past 25 years” and congratulated Jordan.

“While my City Council will end at the conclusion of the year, I will continue making my voice heard fighting for justice, equality and opportunity for all,” he added.

 A staffer told THE CITY that the campaign had not personally reached out directly to Jordan, because they “did not have her number.” 

As the Democratic nominee, Jordan is very likely to win the general election in November, where she will face Republican community organizer Alpheaus Marcus. If she takes office, she will serve for an abbreviated two-year term due to New York’s redistricting process, set to take place in 2023.

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