After an initial and incomplete tally of the votes, Julie Menin is leading in the seven-person District 5 City Council race on the Upper East Side.
Menin, who most recently served as the city’s census director, had received 34 percent of the vote after all first-choice ballots cast on Tuesday and during early voting were counted, according to NY1. The early results showed Tricia Shimamura in second – trailing a little over 10 points behind Menin with 23.5 percent – followed by Rebecca Lamorte with 12 percent, Kim Moscaritolo with 11.4 percent, Billy Freeland with 10.4 percent, Chris Sosa with 6.1 percent, and Marco Tamayo with 2.5 percent.
The race to succeed the term-limited Council Member Ben Kallos has been a competitive one from the start. And while it is still too early to predict an outcome as absentee ballots have yet to be counted, and voters’ ranked second through fifth choices need to be tabulated, Menin felt confident with the initial results.
“I look forward to a full counting of the votes and the completion of our new ranked-choice voting system, but it’s clear tonight that the voters of the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, and East Harlem want strong, experienced leadership representing them on the City Council and that when the process is completed, I’ll be honored to represent them,” Menin said in a statement early Wednesday morning.
Mood of Celebration
The mood at Menin’s election night event Tuesday at The Mansion diner too was one of celebration. Supporters and campaign volunteers cheered each time the preliminary District 5 results scrolled across the big television mounted on the diner’s wall, showing Menin with a steady lead.
Community leaders, including NYCHA activist Saundrea Colemen, Community Board 8 member May Malik, East 72 Street Neighborhood Association President Valerie Mason and the group’s director of community engagement Cameron Koffmam, were on hand to take in the results and cheer on their candidate.
”It’s all about Julie tonight,” said Coleman, who at one point broke out into Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?” as Menin stood before her supporters. “I’m happy for our community and our city - and this is a big deal because a lot of rookies are coming in. She may be coined as a rookie, but not to government. She is a veteran in the government.”
And it was Menin’s deep experience in government as a three-time city commissioner, serving in both the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations, that seemed to be the most persuasive message for voters throughout the primary campaign. All of her endorsers spoke of Menin’s institutional knowledge and readiness to do the job on the Day 1 were she to be elected.
“Julie’s candidacy was based on her incredible experience in city government, and while we’ll have to wait for the ranked choice results, I think the initial tallies and the reception that we saw on the street and across the neighborhood shows how people are really believing that she will take that experience into being a great City Council member,” Koffman said over the loud chatter in the diner. “And the energy in here tonight ... it’s amazing that we can all even be here [after the pandemic].”
Opposing Candidates’ Statements
On Wednesday, opposing candidates recognized the unlikelihood that they could pull ahead of Menin with the remaining votes.
“While CD 5 won’t have an official winner for some days, that winner will not be me,” Sosa said in a statement Wednesday. “I’m incredibly grateful to every person who believed in our team and message ... This is the beginning of a journey, not the end.”
Similarly, Moscaritolo thanked her volunteers and staffers and acknowledged a come-from-behind victory was not in the cards for her.
“Though absentee ballots still remain uncounted, and we have several weeks to wait until ranked ballots are districted, tonight’s results are not encouraging, and at this point it looks like our campaign will not come out ahead at the end of the day,” she said in a statement.
Freeland, too, said it would be unlikely his campaign would prevail in the end, but added that he was proud of the progressive policies he ran on.
”We stayed true to our ideas and ideals even when we knew it might cost us votes,” said Freeland. “For now, let me say: I’m not going anywhere. I’ll keep pouring my heart & soul into our community, and into these ideas worth fighting for.”
Lamorte remained positive and said her campaign was holding steady in third place, giving her a “strong opportunity to win” after ranked-choice tabulation.
Shimamura — who is the candidate best positioned to possibly overtake Menin once the ranked choice votes are tabulated, though it would be an uphill battle — did not give too much away on how she felt about her chances to win, but thanked her supporters, endorsers (including Rep. Carolyn Maloney), and staff for their dedication to her campaign.
“From the start, our campaign has been powered by this incredible community that I’m proud to call home and our belief that a stronger, more equitable future for all of us is not only necessary, but possible,” Shimamura said in a statement. “It’s clear that our message and our focus on policies that matter to our families, seniors, and small businesses have resonated with our community.”
The city does not expect to have final certified results until mid-July.
“It’s clear tonight that the voters of the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, and East Harlem want strong, experienced leadership representing them on the City Council and that when the [ranked choice voting] process is completed, I’ll be honored to represent them.” Julie Menin