BEEP BEEP! StreetsPAC Makes its Picks in Three Borough President Races

The coveted endorsements may provide a crucial edge in tight races.

The three StreetsPAC-endorsed borough president candidates (from left): Mark Levine (Manhattan), Antonio Reynoso (Brooklyn) and Donovan Richards (Queens).
The three StreetsPAC-endorsed borough president candidates (from left): Mark Levine (Manhattan), Antonio Reynoso (Brooklyn) and Donovan Richards (Queens).

Haven’t given much thought to the borough president races? StreetsPAC’s got you covered.

The city’s only street-safety political action committee has endorsed candidates in critical Beep races in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. With candidates increasingly vying to sound savvy about livable streets issues — StreetsPAC specifically said it was elated by the “quality of the fields in numerous races” — this group’s endorsements may provide a crucial edge.

“It’s not easy to endorse one reliable ally over another, but at the same time, and luckily for New York City, there are many more good candidates than there are elective offices,” Executive Director Eric McClure wrote in the endorsement announcement. StreetsPAC also gave the seal of approval to two dozens of Council candidates in all five boroughs (issued in two rounds here and here). The political action committee has been endorsing candidates since 2013 with the goal of supporting Vision Zero and livable streets more generally.

StreetsPAC declined to endorse in two other competitive races, one to succeed Ruben Diaz. Jr. in the Bronx; and the other a free-for-all in Staten Island. The group will likely wait until the general election to pick a candidate on the Rock, where Republicans run well)

Here are the endorsees:

Manhattan

Council Member Mark Levine. Photo: David Meyer
Council Member Mark Levine. File photo: David Meyer

StreetsPAC chose Mark Levine, the term-limited Council member from Upper Manhattan’s 7th District, for being “a leading voice for better bus service and safer streets,” who bucked other officials in order to champion 125th Street Select Bus Service and introduced a bill in 2017 to hasten transit-signal priority. Levine “supported expansion of the Amsterdam Avenue protected bike lane into Harlem, a road diet for Riverside Drive, and pedestrian-safety improvements on Morningside Avenue, all in the face of community board intransigence,” McClure wrote. “And he backed the replacement of three city-owned parking garages on West 108th Street with a 200-plus-unit affordable senior-housing project that included a shelter.”

As Beep, Levine would, per StreetsPAC:

  • diversify Manhattan’s community boards
  • pedestrianize sections of Broadway
  • implement safe crosstown bike paths through Central Park
  • advocate for busways on major east-west streets
  • rezone parking garages to allow them to serve as local package-delivery hubs.

McClure said that his PAC was impressed by Levine rivals, State Senator Brad Hoylman; Council Member Ben Kallos; and Lindsey Boylan, who served as a top state economic development official and laid out her vision for a safer city in a Streetsblog op-ed.

But Levine got the nod “for the promises he’s kept, the vision he’s put forth, and his energy and temperament.”

Queens

Public Safety Committee Chairman Donovan Richards. Photo: NYC Council
Donovan Richards. Photo: NYC Council

In the city’s most diverse borough, StreetsPAC endorsed incumbent Borough President Donovan Richards, who represented Southeast Queens in the City Council before winning the borough-wide post last year. For StreetsPAC, Richards “frequently played against type” for an eastern Queens pol, too many of whom kowtow to car owners in those car-sewer districts.

The PAC cited Richards’s support for congestion pricing and speed cameras, the Downtown Far Rockaway rezoning, improved transit service, new bike lanes, and reduced parking requirements.

And, lest we forget, Richards has come out strongly in favor of converting his borough’s premier open street — on 34th Avenue — into a linear park.

According to StreetsPAC, Richards’s “ambitious agenda” includes:

  • a network of protected bike lanes across Queen
  • expanded access to bike share
  • bike parking at subway stations
  • busways around Jamaica to speed up commutes
  • expanded open streets across the borough
  • $3 million to build the security fencing enabling the opening of the Queensboro Bridge south outer roadway to bikes.

StreetsPAC praised challenger Jimmy Van Bramer, a Council member who has championed cycling safety in Western Queens, and asked that voters rank him No. 2 in the new ranked-choice voting system.

Brooklyn

Antonio Reynoso. Photo: NYC Council
Antonio Reynoso.

Antonio Reynoso, a favorite of livable-streets activists and a young Turk of the City Council, is StreetsPAC’s No. 1 choice for the Brooklyn presidency. The PAC cited Reynoso’s commitment to biking, his efforts, as head of the Council’s Sanitation Committee, to pass the Commercial Waste Zone law that will curtail millions of miles of dangerous truck trips annually, and his advocacy for the Myrtle-Wyckoff pedestrian plaza, for the physically protected bike lanes on Brooklyn’s Grand Street, and for a busway on Berry Street.

High in its thinking: Reynoso’s desire to remake dangerous Atlantic Avenue, which even this week was the site of a hit-and-run crash that killed a senior citizen, and his pledge to complete the languishing Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway.

The PAC urged voters to rank Jo Anne Simon, a strong supporter of congestion pricing and speed cameras, No. 2  in the race — but the group still thinks Reynoso is best positioned “to use Borough Hall’s bully pulpit to fulfill his mission of breaking car culture.”

The Bronx

Though StreetsPAC did not make an endorsement, the main candidates in the Democratic primary are:

  • Council Member Fernando Cabrera
  • Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez
  • Council Member Vanessa Gibson
  • Sammy Ravelo
  • State Senator Luis Sepúlveda

The election is on June 22. Early voting begins on June 12. Click here for more information.

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