StreetsPAC Releases First Round of Endorsements for 2017 Council Races

Who will be doing the people's business at City Hall in 2021? Photo:  Momos/Wikimedia Commons
Who will be doing the people's business at City Hall in 2021? Photo: Momos/Wikimedia Commons

September 12 is primary day in NYC, and it’s a big year for city elections. In addition to the mayoral race and other citywide offices, New Yorkers will be voting to determine every seat on the City Council, every borough president, and every district attorney.

Primaries are typically low-turnout affairs, in which a few hundred votes or fewer can be the decisive margin. But these elections have big implications for local transportation policy. Council members and borough presidents, especially, can make or break street redesigns on the turf they represent.

StreetsPAC, the political action committee that supports better conditions walking, biking, and transit, is interviewing candidates and has released its first batch of endorsements for this year’s City Council races. With term limits affecting relatively few districts, StreetsPAC gave nods mainly to incumbents, but there’s an open seat to watch on the East Side of Manhattan.

Council District 2: Lower East Side, East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay. Carlina Rivera is the StreetsPAC pick to succeed term-limited Rosie Mendez. Rivera, a former council aide, “wants to expand Select Bus Service and improve pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure in the district,” StreetsPAC says. Rivera supports prioritizing bikes and buses and implementing dedicated loading zones on 14th Street during the pending L train shutdown. There are six other Democrats vying for the District 2 seat. See Gotham Gazette for a comprehensive list of candidates in District 2 and other 2017 City Council races.

Council District 5: Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island. StreetsPAC wants another term for Ben Kallos. “He’s committed to filling the gaps in the Second Avenue protected bike lane, and to adding additional crosstown bike lanes in his district,” says StreetsPAC. “He’s also working to bring Citi Bike to Roosevelt Island, and Select Bus Service to 96th Street, and is dedicated to completion of the East Side Greenway.” Residents of his district will have to weigh those positions against Kallos’s record of teaming up with NYPD to harass working cyclists, as well as lobbying to make it legal for bus drivers to kill people with the right-of-way. He faces Patrick Bobilin in the Democratic primary.

Council District 7: Morningside, West Harlem, Washington Heights. StreetsPAC endorsed incumbent Mark Levine to continue representing his Upper Manhattan district. StreetsPAC calls Levine “a stalwart in advocating for transit improvements and safer streets,” who is “committed to making Central Park, once and for all, completely car-free.” Levine also told StreetsPAC he wants protected bike lanes on Riverside Drive and better greenway conditions, specifically for the hazardous Cherry Walk segment of the Hudson River Greenway. Thomas Lopez-Pierre and Matthew Gros-Werter are also on the ballot as Democrats in District 7.

Council District 10: Inwood, Washington Heights. Ydanis Rodriguez gets the StreetsPAC nod for a third term. “He’s a proponent of making portions of Broadway permanently car-free, and is committed to working for implementation of Fair Fares and a five-borough bike-share system,” says StreetsPAC. “He also plans to advocate for creation of a comprehensive, long-term transportation plan for New York City, along the lines of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Transportation Manifesto.” Democrats Arden Walentowski and Josue Perez are challenging Rodriguez.

Council District 38: Borough Park, Gowanus, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace. StreetsPAC supports incumbent Carlos Menchaca for a second term. “He’s been the leading champion for the complete-streets redesign of Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue,” StreetsPAC says, “and is committed to seeing his bill to permit bicyclists to use leading pedestrian interval signals enacted into law.“ StreetsPAC says Menchaca will “continue … to ensure that underserved communities have a seat at the table in determining the future of their streets and transportation systems.” Delvis Valdes, Sara Gonzalez, and Javier Nieves are also Democratic candidates in District 38.