With 97% reporting, BushwickBK is calling this race for DIANA REYNA, who won by 3% in a race involving barely 9,000 voters.
The Esposito campaign probably served to siphon off the incumbent’s votes, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to hand victory to the machine’s candidate, Maritza Davila, behind whom Dem Boss and State Assemblyman Vito Lopez threw all of his weight. Davila still has the option of running on the Working Families Party ballot in the November 3 election.
Lopez wasn’t completely defeated: his chief-of-staff and candidate for the 33rd, Steve Levin, seems to have won the district, taking 37% of the votes in a race with 7 candidates.
William Thompson, the current City Comptroller, won the right to run against Bloomberg for mayor.
We’ll be updating you on what goes on at the polling places with photos and quotes throughout the day, so watch this spot. If you haven’t yet, check out the candidate profiles on Community Board 1 District Manager Gerald Esposito, incumbent Diana Reyna, and Vito Lopez acolyte/RBSCC community organizer Maritza Davila. The most recent update is on top.
Now, the wait for results.
7:12 PM: The final stop of the night. PS 19 on South 3rd and Keap Street. This polling station should be one of the highest turnout locations in the district and it’s in the heart of the Dominican South Side. The place is teeming with Reyna and Davila volunteers. Rob Solano stops by handing water bottles out to Reyna volunteers, right in front of some thirsty Davila supporters. That’s how it is on the South Side.
According to Ramon Peguero, a Reyna supporter and the Deputy Administrator of Los Sures, there have been 700 voters in the site already, and they expect 900 by 9 PM. That’s higher than in Ridgewood, where a source notes 520 total votes at a site out there. A Davila volunteer says she has been at Lindsay Houses for much of the day, while a Reyna volunteer adds that she has been making the rounds to PS 250, JS 50 and schools in Bushwick. The volunteers are clumped together, and have been gently needling each other.
“Vito has staked his reputation on this race. He says Maritza is Vito’s choice,” says a Reyna volunteer. “We don’t say that this is Nydia’s campaign.”
It’s been a long day. Less than two hours until the polls close. I ask the Davila volunteer how many hours of sleep he had last night.
“I haven’t slept,” he said.
The Chicharron Man.
6:45 PM: In a small storefront on the corner of South 5th and Keap Street is the headquarters of The Chicharron Man. His name is Melanio and he has jerry-rigged his tricycle with a boombox playing a loop of pro-Diana Reyna messages and half a dozen Diana stickers. At campaign rallies and block parties throughout the summer, he has been selling bits of fried pork rind for $4 a pop out of a blue cooler on the front of his tricycle. We do a brief Q and A.
Q: How much money did you make today?
A: $400 cash. Everything. Everything.
Q: Where have you been today?
A: Graham, Bedford, all over the place, the south side and the north side.
Q: Will Diana win?
A: She is the king of the neighborhood! Numero uno!
I think he meant queen, but that got lost in translation.
6 PM: Rolling analysis from the B61 bus. 70% of the vote in the 34th District is in Williamsburg, which is where the candidates have been concentrating their volunteers. If Maritza wins, it’s because of heavy turnout in public housing sites like Bushwick/ Hylan Houses and senior centers in Bushwick. If Diana wins, she was able to pull heavy support from the Southside of Williamsburg, a community concerned with housing displacement. If Gerry wins, he would have had very high turnout in Ridgewood and sections of Williamsburg populated by Italians. There was almost no outreach done among the population of new residents: “hipsters,” “young professionals,” et al. At this point it’s unclear which way they voted — if they voted at all.
The seniors love Levin.
4:21 PM: More notes from the field. I call Lincoln Restler, a volunteer who I think is working for Diana Reyna to get his report for the day, but it turns out he instead chose to give his time to Jo Anne Simon, a candidate in the 33rd District race. He is at a Church in Boerum Hill. He was worried about a strong presence from volunteers with Steve Levin’s campaign.
“We need to get 50 percent plus for the vote in Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill. That’s a tall order,” Restler said. “Steve has a big cushion with Rabbi Niederman. Turnout is higher in pubilc housing that we expected and he is cleaning it up. Can Isaac Abraham do well enough in that community? That’s the big question.”
Restler wasn’t as optimistic as I expected, though that may have been due to lack of sleep. He thinks the margin in the 33rd will be very close.
“Levin’s got 16 people in Steve shirts plus a sitting councilman on the block. Steve worked hard for public housing and blocks of Hasidic voters. That was their strategy. Somebody told me he should have gotten a room to sleep there, he was there so much,” said Restler.
3:20 PM: According to contacts, Vito Lopez is firmly planted in the Democratic Club HQ on Wyckoff Avenue, directing the two campaigns of Davila and Levin. No word on their impeding victory party.
*previous text redacted at the request of the source*
Aaron has to go to another district to get food from the Simon campaign.
2:10 PM: Wonder where Councilmember Erik Dilan (D-Bushwick) is spending his Primary Day? Handing out Steve Levin literature at Wyckoff Houses in the Gowanus. I checked in with the Jo Anne Simon campaign in their Boerum Hill headquarters, when they discovered Dilan’s location.
“Send a volunteer there immediately!” said Karen Johnson, Simon’s political director.
I asked Simon’s campaign manager Kelly Donnelly what she thought of Levin campaigning at Taylor Wythe Houses for most of the morning.
“Because they’re afraid,” said Donnelly.
I have to note that of the ten candidates in two council races (33rd and 34th), only the Esposito and Simon campaigns offered me something to eat today. The Simon camp offered a cold, slightly wrinkled barbecue chicken sandwich from Dallas BBQ.
“Dallas BBQ, doesn’t get better than that!” said Johnson.
To be fully objective, I will need to try food from every candidate in this race. It’s only fair.
Reyna volunteer Rob Solano kidnaps our intrepid reporter.
1:26 PM: I am impatiently waiting for the B57 bus on the corner of Beaver Street and Flushing Avenue when a cavalry of Diana Reyna supporters in minivans rolls up to the curb.
“Get in the car!” shouts Rob Solano, Executive Director for Churches United for Fair Housing and a Reyna volunteer.
I climb into the Diana Motorcade, which weaves its way through East Williamsburg side streets, loudly honking their horns, psyching up Reyna volunteers near polling stations.
“Don’t forget to vote!” Rob yells out the side of the car to a young woman walking down Graham Avenue. The woman nods. “Thank you!”
He pops in “I Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas and briefly starts dancing in his seat.
“Feeling good. I think Diana got this on lock,” says Rob. “The union guys are a big help.”
Solano mentioned some reports from the field earlier this morning, where Diana appeared at JS 50 to rally supporters. Also, in South Williamsburg in the 33rd District, Steve Levin has been parked in front of Taylor Wythe Houses for much of the morning, fending off a spirited effort from almost 20 Isaac Abraham volunteers. Rob pulls up to Union and Metropolitan Avenue and lets me out so I can get the G train.
“Diana got a second wind,” says Rob. “At noon, thirty construction workers just got off their shift, came in and said, ‘Gimme some Diana Stuff!”
12:26 PM: I make my way down Graham Avenue and Humboldt Street to Bushwick/ Hylan Houses, several public housing towers where over 3,000 people live, and the Bushwick/ Hylan Senior Center, where a busy polling location has been set up. There are a dozen Maritza volunteers, including Will Harris, a Vito Lopez staffer, who is coordinating the site for the day. Maritza should pick up votes at this station.
The Maritza mobile at the Bushwick Houses.
So far, between 200 and 300 people had voted. I spoke with a few seniors here, all of whom are voting for Maritza. Some said they knew her for over twenty years.
“Diana Reyna doesn’t do anything for my community in 8 years in office,” said Juliana Rodriguez. “When people go to her office on South 5th Street, she does not give services to our community.”
Across the street, on the corner of Humboldt and Varet Street is another Maritza mobile, this one carrying the candidate herself. Davila is holding an impromptu conference with about seven volunteers, and politely shoos me away.
“Not now, maybe later, after this is done,” says Maritza. “Thank you for respecting me.”
Instead, I photographed the car.
Gerry Esposito near Fortunato Bros.
11:50 AM: Stopped by Fortunato Brothers on Manhattan Avenue in Italian Williamsburg to see what the seniors are thinking. A red Gerry Esposito campaign poster is taped to the window, like many Italian American-owned businesses in this neighborhood. Unfortunately there are few customers beyond a busload of tourists from Verona, Italy who came in to try the gelato. Sorry Gerry, I don’t think they’re registered to vote.
Speaking of which, the man himself was holding court on the corners across the street from the Swinging Sixties Center (211 Ainslie Street). Gerry is wearing a black suit with peak lapels and a snazzy vest. It is 75 degrees outside and he has been up since 5 AM, yet he is not sweating.
“How you doin’?” says Gerry as a black car drives by, honking its horn. Gerry goes to shake his hand. I ask Gerry how his morning went. He tells me that he and several volunteers from different campaigns were at the corner of Graham and Scholes at 10:30 AM when a police car showed up.
“We all just looked at each other and said, ‘Is there somethign going on here?’ The cops said it was a crank call,” says Gerry.
Civility reigns…so far.
10:42 AM: The corners at Driggs and South 3rd and Roebling and South 3rd are bumping. Scores of Reyna and Davila volunteers have staked out positions on the sidewalk, 100 feet away from Junior High School 50 (183 South 3rd Street).
Turnout is reportedly slow here too, but it looks better than Bushwick. Davila has sent many enthusiastic Bushwick volunteers to this site, and South 3rd, West of the BQE has been one of the hot blocks in this race.
In the middle of the two camps rolls a maroon minivan with Gerry Esposito and Doug Biviano posters. Esposito campaign staffer Morgan Pehme gets out of the car and asks a lone Esposito sign holder if she needs more help on the block. I ask if anything unusual happened so far.
The Esposito campaign rides in style.
“At PS 250 people are jockeying in front of each other, there are fake election inspectors, and the cops tell you to move when you’re allowed to be there,” said Pehme, before getting back in his car and heading to Maujer Street.
On the Roebling corner of the block, the Reyna volunteers, though outnumbered are unfazed.
“We are from this community and God is on Diana’s side,” said one volunteer.
Reyna volunteers in Williamsburg.
10:10 AM: Time to stop by Diana Reyna headquarters. Reyna chose a colorful storefront on South 2nd and Bedford Avenue to house her campaign office, which also includes a large backyard for entertaining and a large grill. I imagine this is where the after party will be held tonight, but the campaign has been skittish in finalizing a location. One problem. There’s no one here right now. Also, where’s the food?
“There is no food,” said volunteer (and District staffer) Will Florentino. “Food gets delivered to volunteers throughout the district. This office is completely dead.”
Florentino has already been awake for six hours. They have been mobilizing volunteers and lawyers (yes, lawyers) to polling locations throughout Williamsburg and Bushwick. I ask an attorney on site if there have been any shenanigans yet. “The usual stuff. People within 100 feet are being asked to move back. A couple of broken machines,” she said. C’mon guys, there’s gotta be some food somewhere.
The Maritza mobile.
9:26 AM: A quick stop at the usually bustling Wyckoff-Starr coffee shop to see if anyone from the morning rush voted. Your friendly neighborhood barista (and author) Paul Rome said people are talking about the election but he has not voted yet. There were three people inside. I ask a customer who lives in Ridgewood if she voted.
“Oh shoot! I was supposed to vote before work and now I’ll have to vote afterward!” she said.
Just then, a Maritza mobile, just one of nearly a dozen on the street, drove up Wyckoff Avenue, playing a looped message in Spanish urging people to vote for Maritza.
Cheery Davila volunteers.
9:07 AM: Time to go vote. My polling station, which sits on the Bushwick/Ridgewood border is also a middle school. Well, it’s primarily a middle school, and things are quiet in front. Really quiet. Some cheerful Maritza Davila volunteers and a guy with a Diana Reyna sign and a book stand outside across the street.
“People took the literature seemed not aware of the election,” the Reyna guy said.
This is the edge of District 34, but unfortunately I live one block into the 37th District so I can’t vote for a council candidate. No Maritza. No Diana. No Gerry. Tragic.
“It only takes half a block to knock you out. You’re over the borderline,” said Carol Romenick, a Democratic coordinator.
I asked a Republican inspector (Republican!) how many people voted this morning.
“Let’s see, this table has 3, that table has 5 over there, that one has 7, and 12 there.” 27 voters. Well, it’s early.
The also cheery Bushwick Democratic Club
8:23 AM: I swing by Kings County Democratic Club Headquarters (formerly the Knights of Columbus club) to check in with the Maritza Davila and Steven Levin camps. RBSCC’s Angela Battaglia is frantically moving boxes while Davila campaign manager Allison Frost is chatting away on her cell phone giving out instructions.
Since 5:30 AM, hundreds of volunteers have been pouring through the office, taking literature and signs, before getting dispersed throughout the 34th District like dandelion seeds. I stand in the doorway.
“I’m sorry, Vito said no press here,” said one senior staffer/ campaign volunteer.
“Ok, I’ll just take an exterior shot,” I said.
The traffic crossing guard across the street said the storefront has been busy.
“They only open it on election day,” she said.
As I leave, I notice Pam Fisher, sister of RBSCC Executive Director Chris Fisher, who is running for Civil Court judge enter the club. Hi Pam! She doesn’t hear me.
The cheery RBSCC Senior Center
8:02 AM: We’ve had two hours of voting already and I make my first stop of the day with the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Center at 319 Stanhope Street, site of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for thousands of seniors. One problem. This is Erik Dilan‘s district (37th) and there’s no competitive race for voters. You can’t even vote for Erik! Voters could still pick from among the Democratic mayoral, public advocate, and comptroller candidates, but so far, turnout was low.
“Usually in this thing we don’t have that many people but it’s busier than normal,” said Miriam Gonzalez, a volunteer poll worker. “There’s no big excitement here. The excitement is over there in the 34th District.”