A look back at the politics of 2019
Dec 31, 2019 | 1926 views | 0 0 comments | 313 313 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It was relatively quiet year in New York City politics, but with a number of big elections in the coming year – including one for president – 2020 is shaping up to be much more action-packed.

Still, there were some big stories out there. Here’s just a few:

Katz pulls it out

Sometimes elections in New York City can be all-too predictable, but no one could have predicted what was going to happen in the race to replace longtime Queens district attorney Richard Brown, who officially stepped down earlier this year and then sadly passed away a short time later.

Tiffany Caban, a public defender who had never run for office before, nearly upset a longtime face on the Queens political scene in Borough President Melinda Katz.

In fact, when the polls closed on election night, many thought she had.

Caban declared victory after initial vote tallies showed she had a 1,090-vote lead, but Katz refused to give up. By the next day, that lead had dwindled to about 20 votes, which triggered an automatic recount.

The recount that was narrowly won by Katz after a judge refused to allow discarded ballots the Caban campaign was looking to have reinstated. It would take until August – nearly two months after the primary – for Katz to be declared the winner. She won by just 60 votes.

And because it’s New York City, winning the Democratic Primary all but insured she would win the general election against a Republican opponent, who until he decided to accept the GOP line was a lifelong registered Democrat.

In the end, Katz trounced Joe Murray by about 80,000 votes, a margin that did not necessitate a recount.

We guess that election was pretty predictable.

Voters don’t think its special

Speaking of unpredictable elections, special elections are probably the hardest to call. They take place on random days, and the fact they are nonpartisan means that the usual county political power brokers have less influence over the outcomes.

They are also characterized by low voter turnout, and only 9 percent of the registered voters out there bothered to go to the polls in the special election to replace Letitia James as public advocate.

Not only was it a special election, but it was a special election to fill a seat that most people barely know exists. A double-whammy!

But those of you who did go to the polls had a smorgasbord of a ballot, as a whopping 17 candidates were running. Where are the party bosses to get some people thrown off the ballot when you really need them!

In the end, Jumaane Williams won the election with 33 percent of the vote, but with only nine percent of voters heading to the polls, that means the next person in line to become mayor in a city with over 8 million people won the election with about 134,000 votes.

Not exactly a strong mandate from the people.

And because Williams left his City Council seat vacant, we had to have a special election to replace him, which was one by Farah Louis in May.

Louis served as Williams’ deputy chief of staff for six years, which wasn’t good enough to get his endorsement. Ouch!

No matter, in the end Louis took home 42 percent of the vote, besting two other candidates.

Bitter rivals

The seemingly ongoing fight to outdo the other between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo continued to amuse us in 2019.

The year started with Cuomo pulling an 11th-hour power move and calling off the planned 15-month shutdown of the L train the city said was necessary for repairs.

The city prepared residents and community leaders affected by the shutdown for years. Residents up and moved from neighborhoods along the line, and business owners made critical decisions based on the fact there would be no subway service for over a year.

All for nought, though, as the governor stepped in and decided it wouldn’t really be necessary after all. The repairs could be made overnight and on weekends, according to his own panel of experts.

And the year wrapped up with the Mother Cabrini statue debate. A committee led by First Lady Chirlane McCray staffed with diversifying statues throughout the city snubbed a proposal to build a statue to the saint, despite the fact it received the most votes in an online poll.

Those voters immediately cried foul, with some Italian-Americans even alleging that the decision smacked of racism. The de Blasio administration stood firm, but then Cuomo waded into the debate.

On Columbus Day, he announced that he was creating his own 19-member committee whose sole purpose is to find a place in New York City to build a statue of Mother Cabrini.

We can’t wait to see how these two go at it in 2020.
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