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New York City Primaries: Several South Asian American City Council Candidates Poised to Win

New York City Primaries: Several South Asian American City Council Candidates Poised to Win

  • While Republican Devi Nampiaparampil, who ran uncontested in the race for public advocate and has advanced to the November polls, it seems like a rough road ahead for Democratic comptroller candidate Reshma Patel, who is trailing in a crowded field.

New York City held its Democratic and Republican primaries on June 22 for the posts of mayor, public advocate, comptroller and several city council seats, where a record number of Indian Americans are running. All 51 seats on the city council will be on the ballot this November, The New York Times says, “and more than half of the incumbents are not running, meaning there will be plenty of fresh faces.” This has led to a plethora of new candidates, including several young South Asian Americans, competing in primaries, with many getting support from progressives. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed a slate of city council candidates, including Jaslin Kaur, Moumita Ahmed and Felicia Singh, along with her high-profile support to mayoral candidate Maya Wiley. 

AOC’s grassroots organizing network seems to be working for Democrat Felicia Singh, who is running to represent District 32 in the city council. The southeast Queens district includes parts of Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach and Woodhaven. Singh, an educator running for a seat in the New York City Council, was in the lead as of June 23 with 3,206 votes or 36.8 percent. Trailing behind her is Michael Scala with 3,094 or 35.5 percent votes. 

In a post on her social media handles, Singh wrote: “We set out to build a campaign that centered the diversity of District 32, and we did it. We set out to reach voters who have never been reached before, and we did it.”

She continued in a Facebook post: “They said I’d be lucky if I got 300 votes. That I’d “get to know what it’s like to knock doors in this district.” But the numbers we’re seeing show us that *we* built out the electorate. We know that absentee ballots and ranked-choice votes need to be counted, but we also know that District 32 voted for courage, change & community on Election Day, and I’m so proud of what we’ve created.” 

Also running from District 32 is Bangladeshi American Helal Sheikh, who is in the third spot with 880 or 10.1 percent votes.

In the 23rd District, Jaslin Kaur is in second spot with 27.04 percent of the votes, behind Linda Lee, who is currently leading with 27.55 percent. “Our movement in Eastern Queens feels strong as ever,” Kaur tweeted on June 23. “We have some time until the final results come in. But we’re making history and celebrating every milestone that brought this campaign to life. The Queens we deserve is possible. And it’s still ours to win. Stay tuned.”

Things are looking encouraging for civil rights lawyer Shekar Krishnan who is leading in the 25th District with 31 percent of the votes and is poised to win the Democratic primary. Krishnan has not declared victory, although he told Sunnyside Post that is confident that the results will hold. “We have come to the end of this remarkable Election Day and we are feeling very confident in the results,” Krishnan said in a statement to the Post. “Thank you to everyone who supported me. Thank you to those who spoke with their neighbors, who petitioned, canvas and phone banked, and who helped spread the word in any way they could.” 

Civil rights lawyer Shekar Krishnan campaigning in 25th District.

Leading in the 39th District is Shahana Hanif, a Kensington-born organizer. “Together we’ve done so much to build a Brooklyn where no one is left behind,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “I’m powered up to continue organizing with my neighbors for transformational change.” 

In District 26, Amit Singh Bagga is on the second spot with 17.7 percent. In the 18th District Democratic primary, Bangladeshi American Mohammed Majumder is in the fourth spot with 1,207 or 11.7 percent votes, and Pakistani American Mirza Rashid is way behind with 597 or 5.8 percent votes. 

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While there is a strong chance of a few South Asian candidates making it to the city council in November, some like Moumita Ahmed from District 24 have conceded. On June 23, Ahmed, hailed as a “brave socialist” by mayoral candidate and frontrunner Maya Wiley, was quite behind James Gennaro, who is poised to win the Democratic primary from that district. “We’re proud of the progress we made to engage working-class people in our communities to stand up to billionaire developers,” Ahmed wrote on her Facebook post. “We concede, for this moment, for this race. But the movement for housing justice continues, and we’ll be at the frontlines to fight FOR US.” Mujib Rahman, the conservative Democratic candidate from the district, ran uncontested and advanced to November.

It’s still too soon to declare an official winner in most of the races, given that absentee and affidavit ballots need to be counted and ranked-choice votes need to be tabulated. The city is using ranked-choice voting for the first time — a practice which, coupled with an extended deadline for the return of absentee ballots, means it could take weeks before the outcome is known. New York is seen as one of the left’s strongholds but there hasn’t been a whole lot to celebrate for progressives in the preliminary mayoral results.

It looks like a rough road ahead for Reshma Patel, candidate for New York City comptroller. Polling data as of June 23 shows Patel at the seventh spot in the crowded field of 10 democratic candidates vying to replace Scott Stringer, who is not doing well in his bid for the city’s mayor since sexual misconduct allegations against him began to surface. 

For the race of public advocate, physician Devi Nampiaparampil, a Republican, ran uncontested. An associate professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Nampiaparampil will face Jumaane Williams, who has served as the city’s public advocate since winning a special election in 2019, and Anthony Herbert, who will appear on the Conservative Party and Independent ballot lines, in November.“Congratulations, @CurtisSliwa and @NancySliwaEsq!!! I am looking forward to working with you on solving this city’s problems,” Nampiaparampil tweeted after the June 20 primary. Curtis Silwa, the founder of Guardian Angels, won the Republican primary for mayor by defeating businessman Fernando Mateo. Ranked-choice voting wasn’t a factor because there were only two candidates in the race. Nancy Silwa is the Republican candidate for the city council seat from District 6. She ran contested in the Republican primary and has advanced to the Nov. 2 elections. 

However, the most-watched race of them all is that of the city’s mayor. Brooklyn Borough President and former police officer Eric Adams as a sizable lead with roughly 32 percent of the vote as of June 23. Civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley almost 10 percentage points behind him and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia a close third. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang dropped out. But Adams must survive 12 more rounds of counting to win in the ranked-choice voting system. Republicans nominated Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, over restaurateur Fernando Mateo. The winner of the Democratic primary will be the odds-on favorite to succeed outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), reported The Hill.

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