Will a higher turnout stifle a famous name?

Adam Moss, Tdorante10, Jim Henderson, Hugo L. González

Scenes from District 11, clockwise from top left: A house in Riverdale, an intersection in Bedford Park, a view of Wakefield and the entrance to Woodlawn Heights.

What’s in a name? The 11th district primary of the city council will likely find out.

Eric Dinowitz, a special education teacher who won a special election on March 23, was undoubtedly aided in this cause by his last name. His father, Jeff Dinowitz, has represented the Northwest Bronx in the State Assembly since 1994.

Dinowitz passed five other candidates to win in the special election, which was called after Andrew Cohen resigned to take up a judge’s post. Dinowitz is now the current board member, serving the remainder of Cohen’s term, which ends Dec.31.

The June 22 primary – early voting begins June 12 – will pick a Democratic candidate for the November general election. The winner there, who will almost certainly be the Democrat, will represent the neighborhoods of Bedford Park, Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Norwood, Van Cortlandt Village, Wakefield and Woodlawn on Council during the 2022-2023 term.

In March, Dinowitz led the field in the first ballot with 46% of the vote; its closest competitor, nonprofit leader Mino Lora, had 22 percent. Dinowitz broke the 50% threshold after four rounds of ranked pick scoring and finished with 58% of the vote in the fifth and final round.

Lora remains in the mix for the June election, as do lawyer Dan Padernacht and retired detective Carlton Berkley. Kevin Pazmino, a Tory videographer who ran in March, will not be entered in the June ballot. Environmentalist and entrepreneur Jessica Haller, who placed third in March, will be named after her on the June ballot but has dropped out of the race after taking charge of “21 of 21,” a project to increase the number of women on the Board. Two candidates who were not involved in the March special election – teacher Abigail Martin and businessman Marcos Sierra – are on the ballot this time.

The two newcomers have been running for many months, but they have chosen not to run in the special election. “Everyone knows that special elections favor machine candidates,” Martin says. “I wasn’t going to play this game and give the machine what it wanted.” Sierra says he skipped the March contest because of the pandemic. “My decision not to participate in the special election stems from ensuring the health and safety not only of myself and my family, but also of my team,” he says. “While the petition was going on for the special, Wakefield and Woodlawn knew close to 20% [infection rate]. “

Take 2, or a cool slate?

Aside from a few changes in the character cast, the question is if anything else will be different this time around. Dinowitz’s strong performance and the sustainability of the advantages he has harnessed to achieve it are a barrier to any major change. “I see a redesign,” says Haller. “The reason I gave up is that I don’t think anything dramatic will change in a three month period.”

To learn more about the upcoming elections in New York in 2021, click here.

But others believe there is a way for Dinowitz to be upset. On the one hand, the results of the special election indicate that Dinowitz garnered the votes of many candidates eliminated in the priority vote – suggesting that his rivals will have to draw a deeper distinction with him this time around, perhaps leading to sharper exchanges.

Meanwhile, the onset of spring and the COVID-19 vaccine suggest that in-person campaign events will return, giving other candidates a chance to scramble for support. If anyone takes advantage of a largely remote campaign like March’s, it’s the guy with high notoriety – and that advantage could be reduced in June.

About 9,600 people voted in March out of 63,600 voters in the district. The electorate will almost certainly be larger for the primary, given the high-profile mayoral race and crowded checkers contest – it could be twice as large.

Dinowitz’s vote count will also increase, but it’s unclear how dominant the family brand will be. In 2020, Jeff Dinowitz faced the only major challenge of his career representing the 81st District in the Assembly and defeated a political novice with 64% of the vote, a relatively modest share for an incumbent. On the same day, Eric Dinowitz won the election as district leader in the 81st by a fairly tight margin of 57%.

The 81st Assembly District and the 11th Council District overlap almost completely. The main difference is that the Council District includes much larger portions of Norwood and Bedford Park, areas that have lower average incomes and greater racial diversity than the larger area. But the political center of gravity in both cases is Riverdale, Dinowitz’s base. Candidates pay little attention to Norwood and Bedford Park because relatively few votes come from those areas – a strategy which, of course, means voters in those areas are less likely to vote.

It is not known if the money will matter in the current contest. The candidates who ran in March – Berkley, Dinowitz, Lora and Padernacht – have largely used up the funds they had raised: Berkley and Lora ended up with a few greats on the left, while Dinowitz was slightly in the red. Only Padernacht kept a decent balance, of just over $ 46,000. Independent spenders played a small role in March, with three PACs distributing $ 66,000 on Dinowitz’s behalf.

The runners

Here are the CD 11 candidates, in the order of their voting position:

Abigail Martin is a social worker. Its platform, which emphasizes affordability, includes a detailed housing plan that, among other things, calls for giving nonprofits and community land trusts the first chance to purchase real estate from apartments put up for sale and eliminate the tax break 421a. She called for property tax reform to ensure wealthy owners pay more, but also to make the reduction in the tax on co-ops and condominiums permanent.

Eric Dinowitz is a special education teacher in public schools and a member of Community Board 8. His platform emphasizes education, advocates for an end to high stakes testing, more literacy support for students , better mental health resources for schools and a greater emphasis on social emotional learning. He also says he wants participatory budgeting to apply to all of every board member’s discretionary funds (as opposed to some of those funds, as is now the standard approach).

Daniel Padernacht is a lawyer and a member of the Community Board 8. He is arguably the most centrist candidate in the race. Its platform calls for the development of affordable housing that matches the income profile of the neighborhood in which it is built, and for the city to provide tax credits and legal assistance to help small businesses afford money. space. He pleads for more STEAM training and sports offers in schools. And he supports the expansion of community policing and has criticized rival candidate Lora for her past statements in which she called for the abolition of the police.

Marcos Sierra is an entrepreneur and program coordinator for a senior center. He tells City Limits that his top priority is “to get our education system back on track to produce critical thinkers, instead of just passing tests,” “to provide sufficient funding for public health initiatives and mental health ”and work to expand the right to legal assistance. A district leader, Sierra endorsed council member Fernando Cabrera – a veteran lawmaker with a reputation as a social conservative – for the president of the borough.

Mino Lora is the founder of a non-profit organization called the People’s Theater Project which works with students. It was endorsed by the communications workers union, The Jewish Vote, Zephyr Teachout, The Senses. Alessandra Biaggi and Gustavo Rivera, Citizen Action and others. Its platform includes a call for cultural justice – an effort to uplift marginalized artists and offerings from communities of color, shifting billions from the NYPD budget to “schools, health and recreation programs for them.” youth ”and municipal voting for residents, regardless of their immigration status.

Carlton Berkley spent 20 years with the NYPD, achieving the rank of sophomore detective. He lives in the Wakefield section of the district. Berkley has run for Council twice previously, District 9 in 2009 and District 16 in 2013, and has also run for Assembly. Berkley says that public safety, housing and youth employment are his main concerns and swears that, if elected, “I will continue to fight for criminal justice reform, police reform and all. other injustices within the system in order to improve the quality of life for all. “

District 11 is home to three colleges (Manhattan, Lehman, and Mount St. Vincent), a reservoir, one of the city’s largest parks (Van Cortlandt), and Woodlawn Cemetery, whose illustrious residents include Celia Cruz, Bat Masterson, Miles Davis and Herman Melville. The Hudson and Harlem rivers border parts of the district, the Bronx River descends on its east side, and three highways – Major Deegan, Henry Hudson, and Bronx River Parkway – cross its territory. The combined effect of many of these features is to divide the neighborhood into distinct sections.

Indeed, District 11 offers stark contrasts, encompassing the view of the Hudson River from Riverdale and the dense boulders of Bedford Park, where there are still signs on the lampposts stating “Drugs Crucify”. There are yeshivas in Riverdale and mosques in Norwood and Bedford Park. There is an Irish enclave at Woodlawn in the north of the district, and concentrations of Latino, Albanian and Bengali in the south. The population density in Community District 7, which partly overlaps the southeastern corner of the district, is double what it is in CD8, which covers most of the territory.


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About Kristina McManus

Kristina McManus

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