Back of Ballot Sweeps Voter Interest as Local Races Lack Drama |

Back of Ballot Sweeps Voter Interest as Local Races Lack Drama

Hell’s Kitchen resident, Ryan Farrish, 27, said he supported Councilmember Corey Johnson, saying he liked what he has done so far. Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic.

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | It is a tale of two elections. Last year, on Nov. 8, excitement filled the air, lines ribboned down blocks, and the result surprised many. This year, on Tues., Nov. 7, there were no eager voters queuing and the results surprised none.

Incumbents — Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer — handily won.

Democrat Corey Johnson sailed into a second term as councilmember for District 3, garnering a total of 24,639 votes versus Eco Justice Party challenger Marni Halasa’s 1,487, according to the city’s Board of Election’s unofficial election results as we went to press. (There were 153 write-ins, but for whom was not specified.)

The weather also got into the act of contrast — last year was a mild fall day while the wind, and, later, persistent rain made its presence felt on Tuesday. Chelsea Now spent about two and half hours outside of two polling stations — one in Hell’s Kitchen at PS 111 (W. 53rd St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.), and one in Chelsea at PS 33 (Ninth Ave., btw. W. 26th & 27th Sts.) — and spoke to a dozen voters.

Outside of PS 111, Frank Spadatora, 28, said he came out to vote “mainly to make sure there was a reelection for Bill de Blasio” and that he “sure as hell wasn’t going to let the Republican win.”

It was the first time the Hell’s Kitchen resident had voted in local elections, stating it was a “direct correlation” to the presidential election last year.

Spadatora was the only voter Chelsea Now interviewed who was enthusiastic about the mayoral race. Many had praise for Johnson and his work in the community while other voters, like Laura Sanzel, 49, spoke about the referendums on the back of the ballet.

Sanzel, a longtime Hell’s Kitchen resident, said she frequently votes in local elections and was most interested in “the reforms on the back of the ballot because I’m pretty sure the mayor’s going to have another term.”

One of three measures for voters to consider was whether or not a constitutional convention should be held. It was ultimately defeated.

Spadatora said that while a convention would be an opportunity to fix Albany’s issues, “I think it [would] cause a lot more damage if approved so I voted against it.”

Ryan Farrish, 27, said he was conflicted about the constitutional convention. He said that as a gay man he is worried about the LGBT community after last year’s election.

Farrish, who has lived in Hell’s Kitchen for three years, said he liked what Johnson has done so far and, “I stuck with him.”

“I can’t complain if I haven’t exercised my right,” Jayshree Mahtani, 33, said. Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic.

Jayshree Mahtani said the selection seemed “very status quo” and “it would have been nice if the selection would have changed something.”

Mahtani, who is 33 and has lived in Hell’s Kitchen for seven years, said de Blasio was the only viable candidate. She said the constitutional convention “theoretically interested me but I think that it would be a little bit of a waste of time right now.”

This was the first local election Angela Filly, 23, was able to vote in. Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic.

“I worry opening that black box now given our current political environment,” Angela Filly, 23, said about the constitutional convention.

Filly noted that a lot of the races — many for judicial positions — were unopposed, which she said spoke to voter apathy.

“I think if turnout is low people have less confidence in our democracy,” Jeff MacDonagh, 41, said.

MacDonagh said the constitutional convention issue was the “most important this time around.” The Hell’s Kitchen resident said he voted yes as it “opens a door to updating the governance of the state.”

Longtime Chelsea resident Lawrence Garment, 70, said, the convention “was a good idea with bad people. I voted against it because I don’t trust the delegates.”

John Sharp, a Community Board 4 member and a part of the New York State Democratic Committee, said, “In one sense, I would love to see it but with our current climate, it’s a dangerous thing to open up. I fear we would lose more than we could gain.”

Longtime Chelsea resident John Sharp, a part of the NY State Democratic Committee, said he voted straight party line Tuesday. Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic.

Another Chelsea resident, Rocky Lotito disagreed. “We need a lot of change in this city, in this state,” said Lotito, 30. “It’s worth rolling the dice” for the convention, he said.

Other issues, such as gentrification of the neighborhood and the race for Manhattan district attorney, were on voters’ radar.

Born and raised in Chelsea, Luis Fargas, 66, said he votes in local election and was “happy to be out and to be here to contribute,” but the specter of high rents and residents being pushed out of the neighborhood was on his mind.

Wanyu Rachel Lu, 44, supported and commended Johnson and his staff for the great work they do in the community, but said she came out to vote for the write-in candidate, Marc Fliedner, against Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who won reelection. “He did not bring charges against the Trumps or Harvey Weinstein,” she said.

(Propublica, WNYC and The New Yorker reported last month that Vance’s office was considering felony fraud charges for Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. for “misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell.”)

She said while she does not think that Fliedner had a chance, she wants to send a message to Vance’s office “to clean house” and “to set a different course.”

Rocky Lotito, 30, said the election on Tuesday was the first wave of backlash against President Donald Trump. Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic.