You Can’t Complain About Albany If You Don’t Vote Tomorrow
The primary election is Tuesday, with a number of State Senate and Assembly seats up for grabs. Meanwhile, upstart Democrat Zephyr Teachout is, at the very least, seriously getting on Andrew Cuomo’s nerves.
Many races will be decided tomorrow. In some, incumbents are facing off against big name challengers. In others, political newcomers are vying for rare open seats — which they might hold for decades if history is a guide. StreetsPAC has endorsed candidates in several races (see here and here). Here’s a brief rundown of some contests to watch.
Senate District 31, Manhattan: Robert Jackson vs. incumbent Adriano Espaillat. Jackson voted for congestion pricing while on the City Council. More recently, he celebrated the demise of the original plan for Select Bus Service on 125th Street. Espaillat backed pricing but opposed tolls on East River and Harlem River bridges, even in the face of massive MTA service cuts. However, Espaillat told StreetsPAC he supports the Sam Schwartz Move NY toll reform plan (which does not call for tolls on Harlem River crossings). Jackson was termed-out of the City Council in 2013; Espaillat has emerged this year as a champion of safer streets and better bus service, which helped earn him a StreetsPAC endorsement.
Senate District 11, Queens: John Liu vs. incumbent Tony Avella. It’s safe to say neither of these candidates has a great record on livable streets issues. As a council member Liu half-heartedly voted for congestion pricing, but opposed bridge toll reform. Liu harped for years on the mythical MTA “two sets of books,” and he held up the Bicycle Access Bill when he chaired the council transportation committee. Liu has said bike lanes don’t belong in Brooklyn and Queens, and was a vocal skeptic of pedestrian plazas and bike-share safety. However, he is also the only politician we know of who has called for more NYPD crash investigators. Avella opposed a citywide default 20 mph speed limit, but voted for the 25 mph bill that ultimately became law. Avella is a vocal critic of the Move NY toll reform plan, he opposed congestion pricing, and pledged to fire Janette Sadik-Khan when he ran for mayor. On other transportation issues, he’s recently taken more progressive stances, telling StreetsPAC, which endorsed him, that he wants better bus service in his district, “real Bus Rapid Transit” on Northern Boulevard and other major streets, and would like to do away with Albany’s arbitrary and counterproductive time and day restrictions on NYC speed cameras.
Other Senate and Assembly primaries include:
- Assembly District 51, Brooklyn: Ceasar Zuniga vs. incumbent Felix Ortiz.
- Assembly District 52, Brooklyn: Doug Biviano, Pete Sikora, and Jo Anne Simon are vying to replace Joan Millman.
- Assembly District 60, Brooklyn: Former City Council Member Charles Barron runs for his wife’s former seat against anti-poverty activist Christopher Banks.
- Senate District 19, Brooklyn: Sean K. Henry, Dell Smitherman, and Elias J. Weir hope to unseat John Sampson, who is under federal indictment.
- Senate District 34, the Bronx: Former City Council Member G. Oliver Koppell is taking on incumbent and Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein.
Finally, Governor Cuomo’s record on transportation is well known to Streetsblog readers. For her part, Teachout says funds for transit as well as roads should not be diverted for other uses.
The polls open at 6:00 a.m.